It didn’t seem likely that there would be a change so early, barring injury or suspension, in the middle of Rotherham United’s defence.
Craig Morgan, made skipper, and Claude Davis, were the first choice come 3 o’clock on opening day at Crewe. Just 50 minutes into that game, things had changed.
It was a big call by manager Steve Evans to take off Davis - a player he had drafted in for the second half of last season, doing so in the confident knowledge that Davis’s experience and physicality would be beneficial in the promotion push, which proved to be the case.
Davis walked off down the tunnel and has yet to re-emerge closer to the pitch than the subs’ bench.
Kari Arnason went alongside Morgan at Crewe. No more goals were conceded there in the final 40 minutes; they were kept together for the Sheffield Wednesday cup-tie when the concession was direct from a free-kick and last Saturday against Preston it was a clean sheet.
It is early on but the pair do seem to have hit it off in their two and half games together. Arnason, magnificent against Wednesday, showed the class then that makes him first choice for Iceland in that position.
Against Preston, the challenge was different because it was the physical, and very awkward, presence of Kevin Davies which confronted the pair. They handled it superbly.
As Morgan pointed out, you can’t nullify someone like Davies completely but the duo certainly did an excellent job.
“It’s horrible to admit but, against someone like that, you have to admit that you will lose some headers, you’re not going to win everything,” said the new Millers captain.
“So, you win as many as you can and then it’s important to deal with what comes after.”
Morgan, playing against the club which packed him off a year ago (then PNE manager Graham Westley said he wouldn’t be figuring in his plans), said he held no grudges and there was no extra edge because of it.
“It was a tough opening week and a derby game like [we had] in midweek takes it out of you.
“But we’ll take what we have although we have gone up a level and we have to be on our ‘A’ game every week,” he warned.
As a pairing they were excellent last Saturday and a key was not conceding in the first quarter when Preston were looking threatening.
It contributed towards the first goalless draw we’ve had at the New York Stadium against one of the sides who will surely be right up there, certainly top six.
As a yardstick, it gave the Millers an early chance to judge themselves and some indication that, as Morgan noted, they have to be on their game right across the board.
The fact that it was the home side who were pushing on late in the second half against a good side was a handy sign too.