Rotherham United boss Steve Evans landed the player he says has “nerves of steel” and then turned his attention to applying the finishing touches to his summer recruitment.
The Millers made former Sheffield Wednesday forward Chris Maguire their 11th pre-season capture late last week, but Evans says he still has work to before the Championship season kicks off in 12 days.
“We have one or two finishing pieces to add to the jigsaw,” said the Rotherham manager. “I think there’ll be two more signings - one permanent, one on loan.
“Then we’ll be ready go.”
Evans has long been a fan of Scottish international Maguire and his admiration grew when the 26-year-old produced the goods in one of the most high-pressure moments of last season.
AFC Bournemouth were seconds from winning promotion to the Premier League against the Owls when, in front of a packed house and with the eyes of English football on the Goldsands Stadium, Maguire coolly stepped up to convert a penalty to earn his side a draw.
“He showed then what he’s made of,” Evans said. “You have to have nerves of steel to do what he did. The 90 minutes were up, and he buried it.
“He gives it everything, he cares, he has tremendous ability, he’s got a yard of pace, although you wouldn’t call him lightning quick, he scores, he plays on the edge - which is quality I like - and he has character.”
The Millers will look for a midtable place or better next season while operating with a compact squad of around 22, and the versatility of Maguire, who was on the listed of targets Evans presented to chairman Tony Stewart at the end of last season, added to the ex-Owls ace’s appeal.
“The lad can play as a number 10 or as a central striker,” Evans said. “He can also play out wide, and he’s a hard worker too.”
Rotherham returned unbeaten from their tour of Scotland on Saturday after drawing their final match 1-1 against Partick Thistle.
New goalkeeper Kelle Roos, signed on a season-long loan from Derby County and highly rated at the iPro Stadium, took his chance to impress in earlier matches against Greenock Morton and Dundee.
“Kelle has been stunning,” said Evans, who says the young 6ft 5in Dutchman and last season’s loan star, Emi Martinez, were the only shot-stoppers he considered bringing to AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“I mentioned both names to the chairman and when I said ‘Kelle Roos’ he said ‘who?’, Evans revealed. “But the chairman has been unbelievable in his support once again this summer and was happy to back my judgement.”
Evans says the 10-day tour has been a “wonderful bonding exercise” for his new-look squad, with players turning to karaoke to introduce themselves to their new teammates.
“There is a wonderful spirit among the group. The senior players have led the way and everyone has embraced it,” enthused Evans, who is known to enjoy a Perry Como tune or two.
“I didn’t sing a song to the players, although a woman at the hotel walked past my room while I was singing and thought I was Rod Stewart!
“It’s probably because I’ve grown my hair. Nothing to do with the voice!”
Next up for Evans and his men, on Wednesday at New York Stadium,are Premier League Leicester City, before the Millers wrap up their pre-season action on Saturday against German Bundesliga side FSV Mainz O5, again at New York.