In different circumstances, Rotherham United manager Steve Evans could have been sitting in the Sheffield Wednesday dugout for tomorrow’s derby showdown.
But that won’t stop him doing everything in his power to deliver victory to the Millers supporters on what he has dubbed ‘Fans’ Day’.
“Derbies are all about supporters,” he said. “A derby is Fans’ Day, whether you support Rotherham United or Sheffield Wednesday.
“It’s about going out for a beer that night, it’s about going to the paper-shop on Sunday, it’s about going to work for days, weeks afterwards. Local pride always comes into it.”
Wednesday made approaches to Evans before eventually turning to present boss Stuart Gray last season after the departure of Dave Jones.
Evans said: “I could have been in the other dugout. But I’ve never been a manager who reminisces.
“There are other managers sitting in Championship clubs recently where I could have been sat in their dugout.
“It’s not about reminiscing about where you could have been. I have got a fantastic job here working for a fantastic man. And I work for a wonderful football club.
“That has been a common theme in all my time here at the New York. It’s something I really feel passionately about.
In less than two and half seasons in charge, Evans has already triumped in derbies against the Owls, Sheffield United, Leeds United and Chesterfield, but he says there is no secret formula to his success.
“Players win football matches,” he said.
“We’ve always been able to identify players who respond to big occasions and respond to games where it means everything to everybody.
“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve worked with good players.
“You don’t prepare any differently for a derby than you for any other game. Perhaps the words stay in the minds of players for longer and with a little bit more intent than on other occasions. We’ve been successful in derbies because we’ve executed the game-plan.”
The Millers manager grew up in Glasgow as an avid Celtic fan and knows how much victory tomorrow would mean to the Rotherham fans who had sold out the Hillsborough away end by the middle of last week.
“How many fans have come up to me and said we need to win on Saturday? How many people are there in the town?” he said.
“I grew up as a wee laddie in Glasgow when Celtic played Rangers. And it’s a religion.
“You come to this game and you realise it’s special because it means so much to people. The atmosphere will be absolutely electric as we approach kick-off and I just want my team to give us a real opportununity of winning the football match. That means we have to turn up and play to the best energy levels we can.”
Defeat deeply hurts the Rotherham boss, and he admits he has hardly slept since losing at Reading on Tuesday.
And that is likely to be the case tonight, although he’ll be looking forward rather than back this time.
“Why are we in football? Why do supporters come to football matches? They come every week because they love their football club,” he said.
“When local rivalry kicks in and it’s on your doorstep it’s fantastic. There won’t be a lot of sleep on Friday night because it’s like Christmas. That’s what it’s like for a football manager when the big games come.
“Then you have to get up on Christmas Day and perform.”