Gary Rowett press conference notes: Steve Evans response and key Birmingham City messages

“Damn!” Gary Rowett’s reaction to the managerial change at Rotherham United mirrored that of the rest of us - but for a slightly different reason.

Whilst we’re all fearing a new manager bounce after Rotherham sacked Leam Richardson and replaced him with Steve Evans, Rowett is more frustrated that his preparation has effectively gone out the window. Rotherham’s decision to sack Richardson came two weeks after their relegation to League One was confirmed.

The Millers have lost 13 of their last 15 matches and are very much viewed as the Championship’s whipping boys. Even for a Birmingham City side that has lost 15 of its 21 away games in the league, a trip to Rotherham is expected to yield three points.

However, their managerial change has created an element of doubt. For the second time this season, Rotherham’s players will go into a game against Blues looking to impress a new manager.

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Explaining his reaction, Rowett said: “Because what you would normally find with that is there’s a little bit of uncertainty in terms of your preparation and that’s just how it is.

"I’ve played against Steve a lot of times, I know he’ll bring a lot of energy to their team and certain qualities you are going to have to be ready for. He’s been there before so I’m sure from a fans perspective it will give them a little lift.

“But, ultimately, it’s about our performance and what we’re going to do. It just perhaps means we can’t be, ‘They are going to play this way’. You never truly know that anyway but, for example, Leam played a back five for so many games and now you are thinking what they are going to do. Your preparation is more focussed on your own team which at this stage of the season isn’t necessarily a bad thing anyway.”

Evans isn’t likely to stop Rotherham’s directness. The Millers have averaged the least possession in the Championship this season but they do rank third for aerial balls won.

The 61-year-old Scot has had Stevenage punching above their weight in League One this season. Evans had Stevenage on the cusp of the play-offs with an unapologetically direct style of football. As per WhoScored, Stevenage have won 34.4 headers per game - perhaps unsurprisingly, they are by some distance the leaders in this statistic in League One.

“You can’t be sure that’s what they will do,” commented Rowett. “With Stevenage - and everywhere Steve’s been - he’s got a team that wants to play on the front foot and put you under pressure. I don’t see that being anything different, that’s who he is and how he coaches. We have to think about what that might look like.

“The game is going to be very different to Coventry at home, therefore it might be the same team isn’t as equipped to deal with it, or it might be the same team is exactly the way we’re going to go.”

At various points during his pre-match press conference Rowett created some mystique around his own team selection. An unchanged team after such a brilliant, comprehensive victory over Coventry feels like a given but apparently it isn’t.

Maybe Rowett is just trying to keep us and Evans guessing having seen his own preparation somewhat disrupted by the Millers. Whoever plays at the New York Stadium, Rowett is demanding a repeat performance.

“You take what you need from the game, you look at the performance and show the players the good bits, and why we performed well. It’s not just, ‘We’ve won 3-0 and it’s all great’. Why did we play so well?

“I think it was the energy levels, the work-rate, the defensive structure, as well as really good quality on the ball at times. Everyone felt elevated and confident. What you have to do is be ready to work again and find the reasons to go with the same attitude.

“We have spoken a lot to the group about it, a good performance, let’s go and do something about our away form now. That’s a box that needs ticking because we’ve got two in a row.”

What changes should Rowett make against Rotherham? Have your say here