200 games, Wayne Rooney, the transfer window, Blackman v Johansson and Dan Barlaser's rubbish free-kicks ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne's Advertiser column

200 games, Wayne Rooney, the transfer window, Blackman v Johansson and Dan Barlaser's rubbish free-kicks ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne's Advertiser column

By Paul Davis | 24/01/2021

200 games, Wayne Rooney, the transfer window, Blackman v Johansson and Dan Barlaser's rubbish free-kicks ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne's Advertiser column
A great, great player plus Wayne Rooney

 

TWO-HUNDRED games as a manager.

Wow! It’s 199 more than I expected when I agreed to take the reins temporarily back in November 2016 when Kenny Jackett left.

Tuesday’s night’s match against Stoke City brought up the landmark but the Advertiser’s Paul Davis first mentioned it at last Thursday’s press conference before our trip to Derby County. I have to say, I thought he was tempting football fate a bit!

You get a ‘tucking’ at Derby and you get that phone call at 7pm on Saturday saying the board would like to see you. ‘Ah, that’s nice,’ you think. ‘Have they got me a cake?’

It’s been an absolute roller coaster. I’ve had really good times and I’ve had really dark times. Until you have done football management, you have no idea how hard it is.

I had conversations last week with two people who never intended to go into management but became bosses. One of them got out of it as soon as he could to go back to being a coach and the other is just surviving it.

It’s a unique job. It’s something I’m really glad I did and continue to do, but it is very challenging.

To get to 200 games is an achievement I’m proud of, and you know what I’m like — I’m not really one for patting myself on the back.

It’s a massive credit to the people I’ve employed that I’m still doing it. They’ve kept me sane enough to keep going for 200 games at one club.

My time here will end one day, I know that. Two hundred games at the same place isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s hard to keep the players’ mojo going.

I think for most managers three or four years at one club is their tops now unless you have a massive churn of new players every season. Me and my staff try to change training as much as we can, we try to re-invent the wheel every year as much as we can.

The fact I’ve lasted 200 games is down to the fact that the lads have performed at a level that has kept the owner happy. My four years is down to the players, my coaches and my sports-science staff. They’ve done an amazing job.

I’d like to think there could be 200 more here but the pragmatic part of my brain suggests it won’t happen.

Then again, had you asked Alex Ferguson after 200 games at Manchester United if he thought he would go on to achieve what he did, he would probably have said ‘no’.

More at my level, Dario Gradi lasted well over 20 years at Crewe and he might not have expected that after his first 200 matches. It’s all about whether people think we’re doing a good enough for this club. I think we are. I know what a tough division the Championship is and I’m really proud of how the lads perform nearly every week.

It’s not me who decides really. All me and my staff can do is our best. If I survive another 200 games, great. My beard will definitely be a little bit whiter! I’d like to stay that long but the owner makes the decisions.

What I have noticed as time has gone on is that I quite like being part of the ‘manager crew’. Speaking to managers is one of my favourite things as you realise they all have similar issues to you.

“They all have some ‘super fan’ who thinks they know better than them!

To get to 200 ... like I said, wow! Whenever it ends, I know I will have given it a good crack. I have not just dipped my toe in it, I have had a right good wade in the water.

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WHAT is it with me, managers and books?

After telling Carlo Ancelotti at our FA Cup tie against Everton how much I loved the one he had written, I was back on the subject of my favoured reading material when we travelled to Derby County last Saturday.

Wayne Rooney is in charge at Pride Park where he has just taken his first job in management on a permanent basis. It was good to meet a true legend of the game. It was even better that we beat his side!

I told him to buy a book called Living On A Volcano by Michael Calvin. It’s a series of interviews the sports journalist has done with a host of managers in the professional game.

Wayne will have some really dark moments in management where everything is his fault. If he reads that book he will know that some of the best bosses in the world have gone through the same thing.

Unfortunately, because of Covid restrictions, we couldn’t have a drink together afterwards.

I felt sorry for him. I know how much England’s record scorer was looking forward to hearing how great I was as a footballer at Diss Town and Wroxham FC.

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DAN Barlaser almost scored a free-kick ‘worldie’ against Derby.

He hit the inside of the post and the ball was eventually tucked away for the winner by Jamie Lindsay but the quality of Dan’s strike was worthy of a goal on its own.

The funny thing is, I see him practising free-kicks in training every day and he is rubbish. He is some kid — I love him to bits — but I repeat he is rubbish.

They never go in. My assistant manager, Richie Barker, went in goal the other week and offered him a tenner if he could beat him and he never did. He was absolutely honking.

When he took the one against the Rams and he was bending it, I was thinking: ‘Just put your laces through it.’ Shows how much I know!

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I'M not saying my dog, Chief, was nervous when we were holding on to our 1-0 lead at derby but this is how he watched the four minutes of added time.

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JAMAL Blackman has the goalkeeper’s jersey ahead of Viktor Johansson at the moment and I was pleased with his performance at Derby.

I do like to stay stable with a number one as that has brought me success in the past.  Every game matters, every point matters. If I think it’s right to play Jamal, that’s what I’ll do. If I think it’s right to play Viktor, I will.

We look at them all week in training.

We have the benefit of seeing them for around nine hours a week. It’s an ongoing process.

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TWO of our players, Kyle Vassell and Mickel Miller, left on temporary deals last week but loaning players from the Championship to clubs in Leagues One and Two is harder than it’s ever been.

Lower-league sides are struggling financially because of coronavirus and a salary cap has been imposed. That means you definitely don’t get the same return on your player as you used to.

For example, you might have a player on X amount of money and you want to get as much of that X as possible paid by the other club so you can re-invest and bring another player in.

Nowadays, you might get only a third of X so you have to get a few players out to be able to get one in.

Big League One clubs have come after a couple of our players and in previous seasons it wouldn’t have been a problem for them to pay our players’ wages.

Now they can’t. They just don’t have that amount of money left in their budget.

I spoke to a major League One side that literally only had £500 of their weekly wage budget left to spend. They could have millions in the bank and an owner who wants to throw money at it — which they do have — but the rules are what they are and because of that you’re left wondering: ‘Is it worth loaning this player out and getting such a small return?’

The other massive thing is the new ‘nine substitutes’ rule. That is having the biggest single effect on this transfer window.

Two or three months ago, clubs were saying: ‘Yeah, yeah, I think he’ll be available, Warney.’ Then the rule changed and suddenly no-one wants to let anyone go.

There haven’t been a lot of transfers in this window.

I’m not saying it won’t speed up, because it always does, but at the moment everyone is keeping their cards really close to their chests.

This is the quietest my phone has been in any window in terms of other managers ringing me and saying: ‘What about him? What about him?’

The 25-man squad limit has also had an effect on what you can do. There’s less room to bring in more players. We don’t want anyone outside of our 25-man list being paid not to play.

Other clubs have an under-23s set-up they can dip into. We don’t have that luxury. We have to make sure everything is right.

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CLUBS continue to see players contract coronavirus and I’ve been asked if I think football should have a short circuit break to try to bring down the number of cases.

My professional and personal views are two different things.

Managerially, I don’t see the benefit of a circuit break because when we come back in the problems are still going to exist. And I honestly believe that by playing on we might bring some joy to some people in our town.

We want to keep going because if we are pleasing people that is a good thing.

From a personal point of view, I’d love a circuit break because January is horrendous as a football manager, particularly with the added problems that all the Covid issues bring.

I’d love to have a week not thinking about training and transfer windows and everything. But that is just me being selfish.

I think the season should be extended so clubs don’t have to play so many games in such quick time. That is a better thing, in my opinion.

I understand the pressure the EFL are under and how they want fixtures to be played but surely there has to be a bit of reasoning when players are hit by the disease.

Some teams may have five, six or seven players out but are still expected to play. That happened to us against Barnsley after we’d reported five Covid cases in our squad.

If you have three players missing through coronavirus, that should be enough to postpone a game.

Maybe the 2021 Euros could be put back and the EFL season could run for an extra month. That would allow fixtures — if needs be — to be called off.




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