The feedback that persuaded Matt Taylor to sign Daniel Ayala for Rotherham United
The Millers were granted permission by the EFL late last month to bring in an emergency recruit when their injury crisis was made even more acute by Andre Green requiring season-ending surgery.
Taylor identified Spanish centre-half Ayala as his wanted man and went about completing his due diligence on the former Middlesbrough defender who had been without a club since leaving Blackburn Rovers in the summer.
“I spoke to various people who have played alongside him or worked with him in the game and they all gave glowing reports,” the manager said. “He's a good person.”
Taylor wants the 33-year-old acquisition to bring his know-how to bear, on and off the pitch, on younger members of the squad as Rotherham bid to exit the Championship drop zone.
“We need Daniel to be himself and be an influence in and around the group,” the boss said. “Just him being an experienced body and a good voice in the changing room will settle some players down at certain times.”
Ayala, who started out as a Liverpool trainee before spending seven seasons on Teesside, has competed at the top end of the second tier for much of his career and also had a year in the Premier League with Boro.
He refused to drop down a division when his time at Ewood Park came to an end and took the gamble of waiting for a Championship side to show interest in him. That meant he had free-agent status and was available in the Millers' hour of need.
“He’s a little bit short in terms of sharpness and game intensity,” said Taylor. “But when he's defending that box and when he's close to the action, he's capable of doing exactly what he's done all his career. He is a quality player.”