Re­cruit­ment on and off the pitch key to Millers’ rebound

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - RICHARD SUT­CLIFFE

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.”

PIC­TURE: NIGEL FRENCH/PA

PAUL WARNE: Over­saw a dra­matic up­turn in for­tunes af­ter a des­per­ate rel­e­ga­tion 12 months ago.

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