Rotherham United: Millers excitement at triple coup

A new challenge at New York Stadium for Tom Thorpe
A new challenge at New York Stadium for Tom Thorpe

Three signings in two days and another seemingly imminent after manager Steve Evans spent the weekend talking finer details with his latest target.

Pre-season has suddenly turned very interesting at Rotherham United.

Tom Thorpe lifts the Premier League Under-21s Final trophy for Manchester United

Tom Thorpe lifts the Premier League Under-21s Final trophy for Manchester United

Fans were delighted when one of last season’s loan stars, right winger Emmanuel Ledesma, completed a permanent deal on Thursday.

One day on, in came Danny Collins, a centre-half with a long Premier League history, to be followed hours later by Tom Thorpe, an esteemed product of the famous Manchester United youth set-up.

To come this week ... well, time will tell, but the Championship club’s quickfire announcements have certainly ramped up the feel-good factor for the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful.

Thorpe, aged 22, and also a central defender, is perhaps the one to have captured supporters’ imagination the most.

Millers new boy Danny Collins

Millers new boy Danny Collins

Evans likens him to a young Kari Arnason - praise indeed, as anyone who watched the now-departed Icelandic international in his Millers pomp will testify - while Manchester United followers, still unable to believe their club have released their former Under-21s captain, were out in droves on social media with a comparison of their own ... Gary Pallister.

Whether Thorpe can live up to either billing will be one of the fascinating sub-plots of next season, but he’s certainly cut from the same ball-playing cloth as the former Old Trafford and England defender.

“I love defending, but I like bringing the ball out too,” Thorpe said. “I’ve had a history, briefly, of playing centre midfield but I’m primarily a centre-back.”

Click here for more Millers news

Emmanuel Ledesma back at New York Stadium

Emmanuel Ledesma back at New York Stadium

The young man has represented England in every age group from U-16s to U-21s, helped England U-17s win the 2010 UEFA European U-17s Championship and skippered the U-19s national side.

He also lifted the FA Youth Cup trophy in 2011, when the Red Devils beat Sheffield United in a two-legged final and one of the players under his captaincy was a certain Paul Pogba, now of Juventus fame and a beaten 2015 Champions League finalist against Barcelona.

Thorpe has little senior experience - one appearance for Manchester United and six games during a Championship loan spell disrupted by injury at Birmingham City last season.

But he was no stranger to Evans, and that was a big reason behind him choosing the Millers ahead of a clutch of other clubs.

Tom Thorpe captained Paul Pogba, now of Juventus

Tom Thorpe captained Paul Pogba, now of Juventus

“My old coach at Manchester United told me that Rotherham had contacted him,” Thorpe revealed.

“I met the manager and was impressed by what he had to say. He told me his plans for the future. I liked what I heard, and he knew about my game. That impressed me, and I was pleased to sign.”

Evans said: “This is a young man who I have targeted since the first day he was released by Manchester United There is no secret within the Millers that I tried to take young Tom on loan on a number of occasions last season, but at that time we couldn’t make it happen.

“This young man has everything that is good about the modern-day footballer. He has height, strength, speed, awareness and technical ability. There is no doubt that this lad, for me, is exceptional, and we are delighted to be able to attract a player who has had multiple options to sign for clubs in the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership.”

Veteran Collins, meanwhile, is at the other end of the career spectrum, and his experience after years in the top flight with Sunderland, Stoke City and West Ham could prove invaluable to the Millers as they look to build on last season’s survival, achieved in their first year in the second tier under Evans.

The 34-year-old has spent the last three seasons at Nottingham Forest, and just wants to play after a frustrating final year at the City Ground where he started only eight times - all in a February-to-March spell after Dougie Freedman had take over as manager from the axed Stuart Pearce.

Angel Di Maria was replaced in a match by Tom Thorpe

Angel Di Maria was replaced in a match by Tom Thorpe

He won six and drew one of those eight games and was on the bench when Forest beat Evans’ men 2-0 at home on March 18.

“The personal target is more games,” he said. “Last season was disappointing. I’m used to playing a lot more games through my career.

“It’s a great set-up here. I spoke to a couple of the boys before signing. It’s a lovely new stadium. Location-wise, it suited me, and Rotherham had a great year last season,

“The main aim is to kick on and consolidate at least a midtable position.”

Evans said: “The opportunity to sign Danny came up after I became aware that he’d been in negotiations with two other Championship clubs and we met up with him and had a chat.

“His references were impeccable in terms of his fitness, hunger and desire. “We’ve had a wonderful opportunity to bring him in for a year with the option of extending that if Danny proves to be as good as I think he can be.”

“I got the benefit of being able to watch him live a couple of times for Forest last season and he was simply outstanding.”

Collins joined in pre-season training at the clubs Roundwood base on Friday, while Thorpe will encounter his new teammates for the first time today.

“It will be good to meet them and get to know them all,” Thorpe said. “Hopefully we can gel in training and show that out there on the pitch.”

His aim is to make Evans’ starting 11 for the August 8 opener against MK Dons, and if he manages that he should take the ever-growing pressure and profile of Championship football in his stride.

His one game for Manchester United may have lasted less than two minutes as he came on as a substitute in time added on September 27 last season in a 2-1 home win over West Ham.

But not many players can say they’ve played in front of a 75,317 full house and replaced Argentine superstar Angel Di Maria.