Ahead of ‘Stan Bowles Day’, the home fixture with Rotherham United, we spoke to budding writer and Millers fan George Sanders (@GeorgeyRUFC). Here’s what he told us…
Q. The Millers secured their Championship status on the penultimate day of last season. How did survival feel?
A. It felt amazing, it was the same kind of relief and joy we felt when we won at Wembley. To be deducted points and still remain a Championship side was the best feeling ever!
Q. The close season has seen a lot of players in and out at the New York Stadium, including former QPR man Emmanuel Ledesma joining your ranks. How prepared is the Rotherham squad for the new season?
A. I believe the team has the right mentality. Losing your captain (Craig Morgan) and other experienced players like Kari Arnason and lively winger Ben Pringle was a blow. However personally I feel in some ways we’ve replaced departing players and not necessarily improved the team. The brand new back four we have on some occasions looks a bit disorganised but on others looks very solid.I think maybe the season came slightly too fast and they needed a bit more time to gel, you can see however improvements game by game. Attacking wise is also inconsistent, at times we look deadly others we just can’t find the space.
Q. Your manager Steve Evans is a colourful character, but has led the side to two successive promotion. How is he seen by the fans?
A. Most fans have faith in the manager, there’s no way you can knock what a fantastic and successful time he’s had at the club so far. Although there are grumbling by some fans from now and then, overall the fans support him game in game out.
Q. Due to financial issues Rotherham United has been nomadic in recent years. What do you think of the New York Stadium? How does it feel to be settled?
A. It’s very calming to be settled and what our Chairman Tony Stewart has done to the club is fantastic. You see other struggling clubs like Hereford and you just think, this could’ve happened to us. I myself went to Millmoor as a youngster but only went to the odd game at Don Valley with my father as the atmosphere was dead and the athletics track gave it a reserves game feel. The new stadium is great. It’ll be important in inspiring future supporters and when that place gets rocking it’s immense!
Q. Any views on Chris Ramsey?
A. I do feel Chris Ramsey is an intelligent man and I’m sure he will get the best out of the players.
Q. How do you think Evans will set up your team to face QPR?
A. I’m not sure. The formations have been fairly unusual so far this season with some players out of position. Most likely though I think Evans will play a 4-4-2 with the Millers’ last season top scorer Matty Derbyshire sure to start. Ritchie Smallwood (last seasons player of the season) will likely to be a defensive midfield player while new captain Greg Halford will be sure to start.
Q. Who are the Rotherham players to watch out for at Loftus Road?
A. Former Leeds man Aidy White (pictured below) can be really lively, he has a real eagerness to take players on while confidently retaining possession. Another key player as mentioned before is Matty Derbyshire, his goal scoring ability is undeniable as well as his tireless work rate. Other players like Lee Frecklington, Danny Collins and Christ Maguire will also be key players.
Q. Which current QPR player/s do you rate or admire, if any? What about QPR players of the past?
A. QPR are a team who’ve had many great players in the past, unfortunately am ashamed to say I don’t know them in detail. However I will mention the young former Ranger Tom Hitchcock who most notably scored a great hatrick during the 2013/14 league One campaign against Gillingham whilst on loan with us. In terms of the current QPR squad Paul Konchesky and Leroy Fer stand out at first glance.
Q. Which three teams do you tip for promotion this season and why? What about the drop?
A. Wolves, Hull and I hate to say this but looking at rivals Sheffield Wednesday they could be hit and miss for promotion. Maybe Ipswich and yourselves also it’s too early to say in my opinion. In terms of going down I’m not sure at this point in the season also. I am confident ourselves won’t go down, we’ve had a bad start due to unlucky errors but I’m confident in the manager and squad.
Q. Score and prediction for Saturday afternoon?
A. I think it will be a 2-2 draw, perhaps this is a little biased but I’m going with my gut. That’d be a good result for us I think although I think Steve Evans will only be looking for 3 points.