Rotherham United: Blood, sweat and beers in Yorkshire derby

There’s something with added spice on the menu for ex-Rotherham United manager Steve Evans this afternoon and, afterwards, he’ll wash it down with a drop of alcohol.

Evans, who led his former club to two consecutive promotions and then kept them in the Championship, admits that today’s clash between the Millers and his new employers, Leeds United, is no ordinary fixture.

“I think every game is a big game but when it’s against an old club and one that was there so recently in my life then it adds a little bit extra to it,” admitted the man who says Rotherham meant everything to him for three and a half years until he left at the end of September.

Evans is an admirer of Neil Redfearn - who is now in the AESSEAL New York Stadium hot-seat, having once been in charge at Leeds himself - and hopes that, whatever the result, the two of them will share a drink after proceedings at Elland Road.

“I haven’t spoke to Neil recently but I spoke to him when he called me within minutes of being appointed at Rotherham and we spoke within minutes of me being appointed at Leeds,” Evans said.

“Neil Redfearn is a man I have known for a long time and I don’t think I have to reveal publicly the respect and the liking I have for him.

“He will arrive on the team coach as a friend of mine and, win, lose or draw, we will have a beer.

“One will be happy and one will be sad, but he will leave as a friend.”

Redfearn heads to his old stamping ground seeking his first Millers win after six matches at the helm and with the club occupying bottom spot.

But he has added Premier-League experience to his squad during the international break and one-time Newcastle striker Leon Best and former Spurs defender Stephen Kelly are both in line for debuts today.

“I’ve got no doubt that over a period of time Neil Redfearn will do very well at Rotherham United,” Evans said.

“He represents a fantastic football club and he works for a great man in chairman Tony Stewart.

“Certainly, from an opposition point of view, I know very much what’s in that dressing room in terms of playing staff. We need to be fully focused and prepared.”

During his time at Leeds, Redfearn brought through several young talents, like Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt, who are likely to be in in the West Yorkshire giants’ starting line-up as Evans looks to build on victories against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town in his last two matches.

“I may be biased, but they’re some of the best young players in the country, in my opinion,” Redfearn said. “I had the foresight to put them in initially and they’ve gone on and kicked on. They’re becoming established top players.”

Redfearn heads back to Leeds for the first time since leaving at the end of last season after he had led them away from the drop zone last season despite the unstable regime of owner Massimo Cellino.

“It’ll be a bit different because I’m used to being in the other dugout,” he said. “But the bottom line is that we’re going there with the clear agenda that we have to get points quickly.

“It’s a tough game for us because Leeds have found a little bit of form. But if we go there and compete, set up properly and do the right things, we can go and get a result. In essence, I’m playing Steve Evans with his players and he’s playing me with mine.”

Meanwhile, as he relishes his new mission of pushing Leeds towards the play-offs, Evans still has time for his old flame.

“I was in love with Rotherham, a club that will always be in my heart,” he said.

“When I leave this world, some of the special times I had with those supporters, with a great chairman and with that club in general, will be with me for evermore.”