Mansfield Town opted for the ‘phenomenal’ goalscoring of Peterborough’s Ricky Miller after failing to lure a Manchester City youngster to the One Call Stadium.
Evans had two names at the top of his list to beef up his striker department and, when City eventually declined to let their players out, Stags boss Steve Evans had to make a dash in his car to speak to Miller, who had been one of his summer targets.
“The striker options were a lad at Manchester City, who has been involved with England and such like, and Ricky Miller,” explained Evans.
“We only got word yesterday that the Manchester City boy was being kept in the building by Pep (boss Guardiola) which is a decision we respect.
“So early afternoon the chairman (John Radford) and Carolyn (CEO Radford) said they were going to pick up the phone and talk to Peterborough. It all happened very quickly thereafter.”
Miller has scored 125 goals in 254 career games, including 45 goals in 46 games for Dover in 2016/17, and Evans has kept tabs on him since his failure to sign him before the season started.
“We tried to get Ricky back in the summer and your opinion on players doesn’t change,” he said.
“I respected why he joined an ambitious League One club like Peterborough and he had a fantastic pre-season for them.
“Then he had his start of the season suspension, which he had to accept, and then, to be fair, the boy (Jack) Marriott was on fire.
“He was like a red hot poker in front of goal and, with the system they play of predominantly one striker, it makes it hard.
“It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself as a player and it’s easy as a manager as you’re winning game and on the front foot.
“From about October/November I knew Ricky Miller was going to become available. I am close to the people at Peterborough.”
Once the Manchester City deal was turned down, Evans quickly asked the Radfords to pursue Miller.
Evans said: “I got a call from Carolyn Radford to say it has been agreed with Peterborough but she said there are two others that have agreed as well so you’re going to have to get in the car and meet him.
“I needed to sit down and talk to him as I’d never spoken to him before in my life, contrary to what some might have thought
“I wanted to know what this challenge would mean to him. To be fair the kid came across as really hurting and wanting to prove a point. He wanted to sign.
“Lots of people have been there in their career and gone on to do fantastically well. He knows the quality of players he has joined here as well.”
Evans outlined the striker’s attributes, saying: “Miller plays off the shoulder. He rats around defenders and never gives them a minute. “He’s strong, he’s aggressive and anyone who can score all those goals in a Conference season, it was incredible.
“He is tenacious. He works extremely hard for the team – and he hates losing.
“We played Peterborough in a behind-closed-doors match a couple of months ago and he was outstanding.
“He gave our back four a terrible time – and that was against a very experienced back four, of which three of them are in the team now.”
Evans now wants Miller to get back among the goals – once he has proved he deserves a start.
“We just want him to score. To score over 40 goals in any season at Conference level is phenomenal and probably unprecedented.
“We thought we had a great one in Matt Tubbs in our Conference winning season when he scored 34/35, which we thought would be unprecedented. But Ricky took it to a new level.
“But he won’t be judged on that. He’ll be judged what he does in a Stags shirt from when he gets one – he has to earn the right in the next two days to get one.
“We try to pick our best XI players to start a game and we pick a bench to affect the options we have on the pitch. We pick the team honestly.”