Recruitment on and off the pitch key to Millers’ rebound
A SURPRISE video show of messages from the Rotherham United players’ nearest and dearest helped inspire the club’s instant return to the Championship, manager Paul Warne has revealed.
The Millers prevailed under the Arch thanks to two goals from Richard Wood, their talismanic captain.
He was one of those shown a video message from his family in a team meeting called by Warne for yesterday morning.
“We got the lads together before we left the hotel,” said Warne. “All the families sent a clip in for the players so we had a presentation.
“None of the players knew. I was trying to take the enormity of the game away from them. Yes, it was a game of football that we wanted to win. But, if you don’t win, these are the loved ones you are going home to. It is not life and death, quite obviously. That was the message I wanted to get across.”
Warne’s tugging at the emotions of his players clearly worked. Rotherham, barring a spell early in the second half, were by far the better side despite finishing eight points behind Shrewsbury Town in the regular season.
Promotion was a remarkable and fitting achievement for a band of brothers who have given everything in the quest to banish what was a quite horrible 2016-17 at the New York Stadium.
Just five wins all season and relegation being confirmed with seven games remaining says everything about just how bad things got for the Millers and Warne, who was drafted in as caretaker manager following Kenny Jackett’s ill-fated short stint.
To turn such a desperate situation into victory at Wembley just 12 months later is nothing short of remarkable.
“Last season was tough,” added Warne. “I questioned myself no end of times. It was the chairman (Tony Stewart) who convinced me that I had the attributes to be a good manager.
“I still try and convince myself of that most days. Obviously, it is really tough. Until you have done the job and stood in the technical area, you have no idea of the pain that you go through.
“You can have been on top for 60 minutes but not scored and then the other team score, that then prompts people behind you to say you must change the system and all sorts of malarkey.
“It is a lonely place to stand, that is for sure. But, during the summer, I recruited players and personalities I wanted.
“I wanted people in who would buy into my humanistic approach. I surrounded myself with really good people. I wanted to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Asked if he felt he had grown into the role of manager, Warne replied: “I am definitely going to struggle to get a job as a fitness coach now. I don’t know many managers who would want me standing behind them with the cones in my hand.
“But, yes, I have embraced it. The key is to delegate and surround yourself with the right people.”
Yesterday saw Warne go head to head with former Millers teammate Paul Hurst
“I love Hursty and his team is excellent,” added the Rotherham chief. “They are as fit as mine, which kills me. I am disappointed for him and that makes it a little bit bitter-sweet for me, I don’t feel that much pleasure.
“But winning promotion is great. If you stand there and everything you try to implement comes off, you can sleep with a smile on your face.”
PAUL WARNE: Oversaw a dramatic upturn in fortunes after a desperate relegation 12 months ago.