Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart: 'There will never be a January like the last one.'

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart: 'There will never be a January like the last one.'

By Paul Davis | 21/05/2019

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart: 'There will never be a January like the last one.'
Tony Stewart

CHAIRMAN Tony Stewart has pledged that the shortcomings of the January transfer window which have condemned Rotherham United to League One next season will never be repeated.

The Millers dropped out of the Championship this term after failing to land their New Year attacking targets and Stewart reckons that the lack of new arrivals was a major factor in their relegation.

He stopped short of blaming former head of recruitment Jamie Johnson, who departed within a month of the window closing, but says the club's talent-spotting department is in a healthier state after a revamp and new appointments.

"We've had meetings about it," he revealed. "You do the post-mortems and ask why it happened.

"Going into January, we had set the stage where we expected to sign a winger and a centre-forward. That didn't happen, and it didn't happen because certain circumstances didn't fall into place.

"All I can say is, that won't happen again.

"I think the gap we didn't fill in contributed to us going down in that we didn't get that freshness that we all thought we needed in January. Two more signings could have seen us stay up."

Under manager Paul Warne, Rotherham put up a valiant fight to preserve their second-tier status until they went down on the penultimate weekend of the season.

They now have former Millers player Rob Scott and analyst Chris Trotter, who left Middlesbrough to come to AESSEAL New York Stadium, leading their recruitment operation. The CV of new chief Scott boasts spells in the lauded talent-identification set-ups at Brentford and Watford.

"We decided to close the contract of the past head of recruitment," Stewart said. "I'm not saying anything ill about that.

"Life is about improvement and we thought we could improve things by taking the action that we did. I believe that the recruitment structure we have got now is better than what we had before."

Less than seven weeks into the job, the new duo are already making their presence felt, while an added advantage is that the club - unlike in 2018 - aren't being distracted by involvement in the end-of-season play-offs.

"We now have in place people who, recruitment-wise, will give the manager more options," Stewart said. "There are lots of options and things are already happening. There will be developments soon.

"You have to remember that this time last year we were preparing for the League One Play-off Final at Wembley so our recruitment was delayed. We have more time this year.

"That time is being put to good use. We're already involved in meetings with regard to potential new players."

Reflecting publicly on the 2018/19 campaign for the first time, the chairman added: "People ask me what Rotherham United are about. They're about football and excitement and fans appreciating the job being done by the manager and his staff.

"I think we witnessed all that this season. 16 draws is a statement. It shows we competed with clubs at all levels in the Championship. Derby County came to New York with their new manager and, wow, we took three points off them.

"I think it's a season that has had thrills and has had spills. Overall, I feel - and I think this is a feeling shared by a lot of fans - that the manager and his staff have given the club a spring in their step and reason to be optimistic about the future.

"The players have given everything, there is no doubt about that. Yes, relegation was a disappointment, but we have to pick up the cudgel - which we are doing - and move onwards and upwards."

This article first appeared in the Advertiser