BY ALAN TEMPLE, Rotherham – @CCP_Sport
Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart insists Alan Stubbs can be the Millers’ answer to Eddie Howe.
The Cherries, who boast modest resources and a ground with a capacity for 500 fewer fans than Rotherham’s New York Stadium, are preparing for their second successive season in the Barclay’s Premier League – and the riches which follow.
It has been a remarkable rise for a club who were plunged into administration just in 2008 and, having been subsequently deducted 17 points, only salvaged their football league status with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Grimsby Town.
Stewart cannot help but see parallels.
A local businessman and lifelong Rotherham supporter, the colourful Stewart rescued his beloved club from administration eight years ago and has gradually built them back up from the brink of financial ruin.
Now in a state-of-the-art new home – they moved into the New York Stadium in 2011 – and preparing for their third campaign on the trot in the Championship, the Millers chief is ready to take the next step.
And if little Bournemouth can reach the promised land, why not Rotherham?
He said: “I think every club has its aspirations. We have always had aspirations and I’m not a man who believes in impossibilities.
“Look at what has been achieved by the likes of Bournemouth. Very similar to us, eight years ago they were in administration, they were deducted 17 points and look where they are, they’re going to enjoy a second season in the Premier League.
“I think it is possible but I think you need the right manager and you need a little bit of patience. You have to develop it incrementally, get that band of brothers, get the spirit and drive.
“Who knows? In the next two or three years we could be challenging. Could it be even sooner? That’s even better.
“The Championship is a delicious division, isn’t it? Newcastle, QPR, Norwich – with our friend Delia (Smith) . . . we have all her cookbooks signed. It’s just so exciting and hopefully can do ourselves justice and compete.
“We all know about the Premier League, it’s big, big money and a lot of clubs in The Championship are throwing big money at it. We now have foreign people coming in with lots of money and some of them are gamblers.
“But we’ll do our best to be competitive and at the tail end of last season, under Neil (Warnock), we proved we could get big results.”
In an era of sheikhs, oligarchs and ludicrous wealth in the top flight of English football, Stewart would be a welcome addition.
Walking towards the New York Stadium, you can often see him in the smoking shelter outside main reception, puffing on a cigar and ready to extend a loud Yorkshire welcome.
The managers he has overseen have tended to be similarly boisterous characters, with Steve Evans and Neil Warnock standing out as no shrinking violets – and they both thrived in Rotherham.
Stubbs, while an engaging interviewee, is not quite so bombastic, nevertheless the former Hibs coach has undoubtedly succeeded in catching Stewart’s eye.
He continued: “There are a lot of managers I have known in the eight years I have been in football – and every single one of them have said what a good catch it is to get Alan.
“He’s learning fast, he’s performing at a good level. The Championship level in England is a bit tougher, although I don’t know much about The Championship in Scotland, so he will need to adapt to that.
“And there are certainly a lot more clubs down here vying for the promised land of the Premier League, but I’m really looking forward to the adventure with Alan.”