Steve Evans on benching Viktor Johansson and the time frame for the Rotherham United goalkeeper's departure

RUFC v Sheff 02.03.2024RUFC v Sheff 02.03.2024
RUFC v Sheff 02.03.2024
MANAGER Steve Evans revealed today that he expects Viktor Johansson's time with Rotherham United to come to an end within the next fortnight.

The new boss made the declaration as he explained why he had benched the sought-after goalkeeper for the Millers' final match of their Championship relegation campaign, at home to Cardiff City.

The Swedish international, a huge fan favourite during his four-year spell at AESSEAL New York Stadium, came on in the dying minutes in place of Dillon Phillips in the 5-2 victory over the Bluebirds and received an ovation he will never forget.

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Evans, who has been at the helm for three matches, told the Advertiser: “It's likely, I would say, that in the next week to ten days we'll see Viktor leave the club. It will be a life-changing move for him.

Viktor Johansson on bench duty for Rotherham United against Cardiff City. Picture: Jim BrailsfordViktor Johansson on bench duty for Rotherham United against Cardiff City. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Viktor Johansson on bench duty for Rotherham United against Cardiff City. Picture: Jim Brailsford

“I don't want that to happen but, you know, he has his future to consider. He's been brilliant for Rotherham United, a terrific servant.

“He's been an opponent against a team of mine (Gillingham) and I've also watched him live a number of other times.”

Phillips has been Johansson's understudy all season and, with a year left on his contract, is set to be at New York next term.

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Evans has felt compelled to watch him in competitive action in the final two matches of the campaign as preparation for an anticipated League One promotion push, even though it deprived Johansson of the start supporters were hoping to see.

“As a manager, you have to detach yourself from the emotion of a situation,” the boss said. “I had to have a look at Dillon. Viktor is the present but Dillon is the future.”

Phillips played well as the Millers won for only the fifth time this season to finish in bottom spot on 27 points.

“To Dillon's credit, if that had been a Viktor performance today Viktor would have been named man of the match,” Evans said.

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Johansson is poised to depart because of a release clause in his contract that allows him to leave for a fee of around £1 million and there are numerous teams interested in signing him at that price.

“I've been getting phone calls about Viktor's character so I know clubs are really well on with their research into him,” said Evans who suggested earlier this week that ‘eight or nine’ Championship sides are hovering.

“The chances are, we will be watching him next season being a top, top player whoever he joins.”

Johansson had family over from Sweden for the game and they had an audience with Evans.

“Today I met his grandad who is spending time in this country," the Scot said. "I told him: "Forget Viktor's footballing abilities, just be proud you have a grandson who conducts himself so well.”

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