Rotherham United: Record fee for Jon Taylor shows Millers mean business in a week of signings

New signing Jon Taylor
New signing Jon Taylor

On his last outing at New York Stadium, livewire Jon Taylor was too much for Rotherham United to handle.

The little winger turned in arguably the best individual display by a visiting player in the Millers’ 2013/14 League One promotion campaign.

He scored the opening goal for Shewsbury in a 2-2 draw on August 24 and Steve Evans’ side never got to grips with his pace and guile as he drifted in from the right wing to wreak havoc in ‘the hole’ just behind the strikers.

A slaloming run from out wide to the edge of the penalty area set up the second goal for the Shrews, scored by a certain Tom Bradshaw. More on him later.

Only Alex Pritchard, who masterminded Swindon’s shock 4-0 win at New York and is now set for an £8 million switch from Spurs to Norwich City, came close to matching Taylor’s performance that season.

Now Taylor can look forward to many more New York games, after Rotherham set a new transfer record to land the attacker who has more than 200 senior appearances to his name but has only just turned 24.

Scott Allan

Scott Allan

The fee isn’t the £1 million mentioned in some reports and is nearer £500,000. It certainly beats the estimated £350,000 the Millers paid for Jonson Clarke-Harris two year ago.

“He gives us options in terms of that he can play anywhere across the forward line, so that’s either wing or in behind the striker,” said manager Alan Stubbs.

“His role within the team will be to be dynamic. He is very quick. He looks like he enjoys taking defenders on, which is great to see, and I think that he will be a very exciting player.”

With opening day only three days away, Taylor is unlikely to be the last business before Saturday’s clash home clash with Wolves.

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart

Celtic playmaker Scott Allan is on the verge of completing a loan deal and an attacker is poised to come through the door very shortly.

New boss Stubbs spent the first two months of his tenure calling for patience over transfers as he waited for the right men and this week he is delivering.

Centre-half Kelvin Wilson in on Tuesday, Taylor yesterday, Allan very likely today, others in the pipeline.

The midfield in Stubbs’ squad is overflowing with attacking options. The Millers may still need a striker, but suddenly the optimism is growing and the pain in missing out on hitmen Lee Gregory and Bradshaw in July feels a little less acute.

There’s still almost a month of the transfer window left for Rotherham to strengthen further too.

Quality not quantity, the manager has repeated again and again as work has gone on behind the scenes since his June 2 appointment. “I sound like a stuck record,” he said, calling for patience for the upteenth time.

Value for money, chairman Tony Stewart has maintained as agents have tried to inflate fees to unsustainable levels.

Both terms have been thrown back at the club on social media by the vocal minority complaining of lack of ambition, particularly when moves for Gregory and Bradshaw fell through.

Yet both make sense for a club trying to compete with the likes of Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Derby County while not risking any debt in doing so.

Fans had every right to feel frustrated when a week which began with the prospect of signing Gregory and Bradshaw, or maybe even both, ended with the Millers having walked away from both deals.

Most understood the club deciding that £1.4 million was as much as they were prepared to pay for Gregory. It was a difficult pill to swallow when Barnsley jumped in at the last minute and offered £650,000 for Bradshaw after the Millers had thought they had an agreement at £500,000.

The disappointment of everyone was understandable. The abuse of the few went too far.

“Clueless”, “embarrassing”, “shambolic” were among the adjectives decorating Facebook and Twitter from the vocal minority.

I’ve taken out the swearwords.

Who remembers how cluelessly Stewart saved the club from administration, the embarrassment of the magnificent new stadium and the shambolic way he financed two promotions and two seasons of Championship survival?

The owner should never be above scrutiny, but a decent man who has ploughed close to £30 million into the club deserves respect.

A £1.4m Gregory bid proved Rotherham are prepared to dig deeper than ever before.

Yesterday, a new transfer record was set and there is every likelihood it could go again in this window.

There is interest in Swedish striker Christoffer Nyman, 23, who has made people sit up at take notice with his form for IVF Norrkoping: eight goals in 16 games in the Swedish First Division, including one against Malmo when former Miller Kari Arnason was playing, plus a number of assists. There is interest in other forwards.

On to Saturday and Wolves, opposition impossible to assess after a takeover, the sacking of a respected manager in Kenny Jackett the appointment of one new to the English game in Walter Zenga and a flurry of foreign signings.

There will be a new Rotherham style. Players will be encouraged to trust their ability, to keep possession and pass the ball. In pre-season, against Sunderland and at times in the first half at Scunthorpe, it has looked good when it has come off.

The trick for the new manager is to move the Millers forward while keeping the defensive solidity created under his predecessor.

If Rotherham land Allan and then make another addition in the next few days, they will have a squad not far off being as big as it needs to be and not as thin as many were fearing.

Taylor and Allan are exciting propositions and Wilson is an accomplished Championship performer.

Of the other Stubbs new boys in with a chance of starting, midfielder Will Vaulks looks a real prospect, fellow midfield man Jake Forster-Caskey has obvious class and winger Anthony Forde has been dangerous in patches, although he has yet to enforce his threat on a sustained basis.

Add to that the core of last season’s survival side - Matt Derbyshire, Leon Best and Grant Ward are the only notable departures from Neil Warnock’s warriors of the 11-match unbeaten run - and this week is looking as encouraging as the one last month seemed bleak.

When he sat in his office on his first ever day in management back in 2014, Stubbs had six players at his disposal.

From such meagre beginnings, he built an Hibernian squad which reached the Scottish Championship play-offs in successive seasons and won the Scottish FA Cup.

He held his nerve then, and he has held it again now.

Click here for six things about Jon Taylor