although his side are currently lying 11th, nine points behind the leaders and six from the top three, Rotherham United manager Steve Evans is still happy to live with the tag of being a favourite for promotion from League Two.
“People had us down as one of the favourites - plenty said we were the favourites - and I’m not going to go against that view even if people do point out where we are albeit with just seven games played,” said Evans.
“We’ve only just started the season; there’s all to play for.”
And he drew the comparison with the League Two table a year ago - “I was at Crawley then and it was a similar start whilst Swindon, who finished champions, had a poor start and after seven games were in the bottom half,” added Evans who takes his side to bottom side Barnet tomorrow.
He might have pointed out that Rotherham were second at this time last season and look what happened to them!
“Obviously a win the other night alters things completely but if we come out of the next few games within touching distance then fine,”
Evans said he chatted this week with former Millers boss Alan Knill who brought a side over for a private friendly.
“He said to me: ‘how are you managing the expectation level here?’ because he’d never known anything like it in Rotherham before.
“That expectation comes from a combination of things - the stadium, the chairman, the management team leaving elsewhere to come here and some of the players we’ve signed,” added Evans.
“Well, firstly, it will take time because of the number of new players there are but we will deal with it.”
He acknowledged that, because of Barnet’s poor start, people will expect the Millers to go to Underhill and win.
“Look, if we were going to Gillingham, and they’re top, then we’d expect to win,” Evans added.
“Barnet is a tough place to go with its sloping pitch and they have had a tendency to stay in this division by virtue of winning home games.
“We have to earn the right - you can’t just turn up and expect to win.”
Evans will again be without left back Laurie Wilson who has a knee injury whilst Kari Arnason remains a doubt as he recovers from an ankle injury. David Noble will be in the squad and looks likely to be on the bench.
Barnet, who lost 1-0 at Aldershot in midweek, could be without experienced right back Barry Fuller, previously of Gillingham. He suffered facial injuries and is a doubt.
In their side is former Doncaster Rovers winger John Oster. He was released by Rovers in the summer.
Former Blades striker Steve Kabba is still there but is still out injured.
Evans will again be at home with a live-feed of the match arranged from Barnet.
“Everyone is mystified at the punishment,” said Evans. “This is for foul and abusive lanaguage, for nothing else - I was found innocent of anything else - and yet I’m banned completely from games.
“I can tell you, people in the game are mystified.”
With the prospect of an appeal likely to cost in the region of £50,000, it seems hardly surprising Evans decided not to mount a challenge and thus accepted the decision.