13 deals, two transfer records and a £1-million-plus arrival ... the story of Rotherham United's transfer window

It was a busy summer for the Millers.
Sam NombeSam Nombe
Sam Nombe

IF you like your transfer windows to have a bit of heat to them then this was the one for you.

There were two record fees, the arrival of the club's first-ever seven-figure signing and a deadline-day curry to round things off.

When the bell finally tolled at 11pm on Friday Sepember 1, Rotherham United could look back on a successful three months of trading.

They'd spent at a new level to take their squad to a new level. The performance and the result a day later against Norwich City proved that. The Millers looked every bit a Championship side as they beat one of the best teams in the division.

The Sam Nombe deal was the real headline-maker: £1-million-plus Sam, the striker Rotherham manager Matt Taylor had spotted, recruited and developed in his days in the Exeter City hot-seat.

Some fans had wondered if chairman Tony Stewart would be true to his word about increased investment. They were wondering no more as the centre-forward arrived 36 hours before the close of play.

Even before then, there had been a major upgrade in the packages the Millers were putting together to attract new and better blood.

“Above and beyond,” is how Taylor described the backing on his way to bringing in 13 players.

As exciting as Big Sam's presence in S60 may be, the capture of midfielders Cafu and then Christ Tiehi - the record signing for all of 13 days before the Nombe numbers blew it out of the water - could turn out to be even more telling.

That pair are quality on a different scale to what Rotherham have possessed in the past.

Ben Wiles was the only significant departure, and the local lad will be missed after so many years in S60, but his walk though one door opened up another at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

“The Nombe transfer was do-able on the back of what happened with Wilesy,” Taylor said. “We weren't in a position to do it before Wilesy's sale. We basically ‘flipped’ that one.

“The amounts we have spent aren't going to scare the rest of the league but they are enough to say we are doing things the right way and being the best version of ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Tyler Blackett has quietly gone about being excellent and Dexter and Fred - we already don't bother with their surnames - have become big-smiling, big-impact loan hits.

In addition to all this, four - possibly five - of the Millers' walking wounded could be back by the end of the international break a week on Saturday, meaning those horribly-weak benches of the opening stages of the campaign should become a thing of the past.

“Players like Christ, Cafu and Fred are still getting up to speed,” Taylor said. “I'm looking forward to what it will look like when they're all match-fit and they've got people behind them champing at the bit to play. We'll be like a totally different outfit then. We're going in the right direction.”

In the final few minutes of deadline day, there was a much-needed last piece of business in the loan acquisition of Sebastian Revan to address the one remaining weak spot: the lack of cover on the left for Cohen Bramall.

The important question is, have the Millers emerged from the window stronger than they went into it? The important answer is, yes.

“I've generally been pleased with what the club has allowed me to do in terms of building a squad which we feel can compete,” said Taylor.

Now, it's all about building on the 19th-placed survival achievement of 2022/23.

“I think the squad is better equipped than last season," the boss said. "We have to show that with points and results. I've been so pleased with parts of our performances but they've been only parts so far.

“The display last Saturday still wasn't a full performance but was getting closer to it.

“I feel the team has more control in games now, even against a side like Norwich. The first half, that's the best I've seen us in possession.”

Thirteen signings could become up to 15 as Taylor has been in pursuit of two free agents this week.

Deadline-day evening once more found him away from his wife and young son, as he so often is in his drive to make Rotherham a sustainable second-tier concern.

“I was not to be seen at home last Friday,” he said. “In fairness to Sarah, she brought a takeaway to the training ground for me and the recruitment staff.

“It shows what she's all about. I really appreciate that. We were sitting there at eight o'clock having an Indian meal.”

A spicy end to a spicy summer.

The incomings (in the order they happened): Sean Morrison (one-year deal), Lee Peltier (one-year deal), Tyler Blackett ((one-year deal), Grant Hall (one-year deal), Dillon Phillips (two-year deal), Cafu, (one-year deal), Dexter Lembikisa (loan), Fred Onyedinma (loan), Andre Green (two-year deal), Christ Tiehi (three-year deal), Arvin Appiah (loan), Sam Nombe (four-year deal), Sebastian Revan (loan).