Rotherham United boss Steve Evans tips John Ward to assemble promotion-chasing Bristol Rovers squad
Rotherham United boss Steve Evans is tipping John Ward to assemble a Bristol Rovers squad capable of chasing promotion next season.
Evans saw his side avenge the 3-1 defeat Rovers served up at the New York Stadium on January 26 by winning the reverse fixture 2-1 at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Rotherham boss was still highly complimentary of the job Ward has done since taking over a relegation-threatened Rovers from Mark McGhee in December – but also questioned some of the Memorial Stadium players after his watching his side end the Pirates’ recent six-game unbeaten run.
“We probably didn’t have as many problems in terms of the chances Rovers created as we had anticipated,” said Evans.
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“We knew we’d be in for a tough game because statistics don’t lie. We were up against a team that had won six of their last seven games, which is unbelievable.
“John Ward deserves full credit for that as do his players, but if I was the manager I’d be asking myself: Why didn’t these players perform like that when Mark McGhee was here?
“I’m seeing players not running a yard earlier in the season and yet they are now prepared to climb Ben Nevis for John Ward and that’s not right. I think one or two of those players should hang their heads in shame.
“I thought about that when I selected my own team ahead of the game and I knew that we’d need players that would put the kettle on and give me their full commitment and desire to match what John is getting from his players at the moment.
“I don’t know Mark McGhee that well but I am sad for him when I see the way things have changed in recent weeks. One of our scouting reports actually said: one wonders what these players were doing earlier in the season.
“Rovers supporters will be pleased with how John has turned it around, but if those players had done that earlier in the season they would be in the top three now.
“John deserves all the plaudits for doing a great job and if your looking for a team to be in the running for promotion next season then you wouldn’t go far wrong with Bristol Rovers.
“Whenever you come to Bristol Rovers as an opposition manager you know you will face a very difficult test.
“It is an outstanding football club that, like Rotherham, should be competing to be in the Championship and not in League Two.”
Joe Anyinsah, meanwhile, is confident that Rovers can bounce back from their Tuesday night setback by embarking on another long unbeaten run.
Anyinsah, who scored an 80th minute consolation strike in the 2-1 reverse said: We are disappointed with the goals we conceded. We made a couple of individual errors, which has been unlike us in recent times.
“We can’t let our heads drop. It is a little setback, but we need to pick ourselves up quickly and try and get on another run.
“The manager was very positive about the performance afterwards. He told us we had to learn from our mistakes and that it was very important that we don’t let all the hard work we have put in over the last few games go to waste.
“We have got ourselves in a good position in the league. Everything is in our own hands and if we keep doing the things we have been doing consistently then we should be fine.”