PAUL Warne has signalled his intention to be the manager who leads Rotherham United in League One next season.
The boss has been considering his position after last weekend’s agonising last-day events saw the Millers relegated from the Championship after coming within six minutes of an against-the-odds survival.
But he is already deep into his planning for the 2021/22 campaign, when he could earn a third successive third-tier promotion, and isn’t intending to walk away from the hot-seat he has occupied permanently since April 2017.
“I can’t envisage not being the manager,” he said. “I just want what’s right for the football club. I’ve had to decide if that involves me as manager. I had to think whether it needed someone else to come in, strip the place bare and start again.
“I speak to the chairman a lot. I spoke to him on Sunday for a long period of time. He’s fully supportive and I can’t imagine me walking in to see him tomorrow or next week saying: ‘Look, Chairman, that’s me done.’
“I wouldn’t have been 100 per cent true to myself if I hadn’t taken a bit of time just to try to get my head right.
“Having said that, I’ve worked non-stop since the season ended. I’m going away with my missus and kids for a long weekend and hopefully that will refresh me with a new-found vigour.”
The intense run-in, which saw Rotherham play 12 times in 37 days and fall just short of their safety goal, took its toll on the 48-year-old who says he shoulders the responsibility for the drop.
“Fundamentally, the failure should fall at my door, not at the players’ feet,” he said. “I’ve done the job for four years. Unless you’ve been a manager I don’t think you can appreciate just how intense it is and how much you live with it. That’s why most managers don’t stay more than three years at any one club.”
Earlier this week, Warne was in much better spirits than last Saturday as he talked animatedly about a summer rebuild and the next phase of his career at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Supporters have been calling for him to stay and have set up a Facebook group to voice their backing for the boss.
“I’ve still got two years left on my contract here,” he said. “I don’t believe I will leave before then, although the chairman has the right to get rid of me whenever he sees fit.
“Equally, when I’m not happy in my own life I have the option to shake hands and part company. I’d like to think that if the chairman got rid of me next week or in six months’ time he would do it in a way I had huge respect for. And I think he would have huge respect for me if there was ever a day when I don’t want to work at the club anymore. I think he appreciates what I’ve tried to do.”
Warne, chairman Tony Stewart and other key figures at the club will hold an inquest into why the Millers lost their Championship status.
“We didn’t win enough crucial games at home,” the boss said. “That’s been our downfall this year. We need to take stock of where we think we went wrong. We obviously made mistakes as a club. The management team and the players, we’ve all made mistakes. We need to reflect on that.
“As I sit here now, I feel I will be the manager come pre-season. That’s as honest as I can be.
“Relegation is so raw still that the thought of going again and potentially losing some of my players seems a lot to think about. We need to rebuild the squad.
“I’ll be amazed, though, if I’m not, through my own choice, the Rotherham manager when the season starts.”
WARNE ON THE STRESSES OF THE JOB
“Everyone knows me as Paul, the football manager, or Paul, the former player. But I’m just Paul. I’m a husband and a father.
“I listened to a podcast the other day that said you need to tick all your boxes. You need to tick your work box, you need to tick your husband box, your son box, your father box and your friend box. I just don’t think I’ve been doing much ticking of anything else but the work box.
“To be good at your job, you have to enjoy it. I do enjoy it. However, I have never known anything like it in the last 40 days. I’d like to think people will understand how me, Richie (Barker), Hammy, (Matt Hamshaw) Andy (Warrington), the physios and everyone else involved on the football side of the club are absolutely drained.
“That’s why when I got asked after the last game ‘Are you looking forward to building a team for next year?’ I didn’t answer that I was.
“I could have easily stood there, like most managers do, and say ‘Yeah, we’re definitely going to bounce back’ but that’s not how I felt. I felt absolutely broken.
“If I chose to work away from football I will be absolutely amazed but it’s still my right as a human being to do what I want to do.”
EVERYTHING ON THE CONTRACTS FRONT
ROTHERHAM United expect to lose Matt Crooks and Clark Robertson in the summer and fear that Michael Smith could be a third big-name departure.
Midfielder Crooks and centre-half Robertson have rejected new contracts and see their futures elsewhere while striker Smith is wanted by Middlesbrough.
Crooks and Smith — who has also been made an offer by boss Paul Warne — have a year left on their deals at AESSEAL New York Stadium and the Millers can hold out for big fees for the duo.
However, Robertson’s terms expire in the summer and he is free to leave.
Wing-back Matt Olosunde’s contract is also up and he and the club are in discussions about a prolonged stay.
There is no option to extend the deals of either him or Robertson who is attracting plenty of interest and could return to Scotland where Aberdeen are among his admirers.
Twenty-nine-year-old Smith, a free transfer from Bury in January 2018, may go for around £1 million while Rotherham will consider only big-money offers for prized asset Crooks, 27, who they picked up for £200,000 from Northampton Town two and a half years ago.
Here is what Warne told the Advertiser about the quartet:
“Crooksy politely declined his offer a while ago and I would presume he would see his future elsewhere. But a contract is there for a reason for both parties and if we get offers for Crooksy, as we would with any of our players, we will look at them. I know that we’re a better League One team with Crooksy so for Crooksy to leave us it would have to be some offer. I would love for Crooksy to be in our side at the start of the season because he’s been fundamental to a lot of our success over the last few years. However, I’m also aware of the fact that if someone is willing to pay his market value and the player’s head is turned, it’s harder to keep the player. But we’re not in a position where we have to sell or where people can come in and mock us with low offers. We can sell him for what the chairman wants and if it doesn’t happen then he’s got a year left on his contract here and he’ll have to run it out.”
“Smithy had a year left as well and it’s the same with him as Crooksy. Smithy has been brilliant for us and it would be sad to see him go. But if the right offer came in for him, we’d have to consider it. We don’t have to sell anyone who is under contract. In that respect we can hold out for proper value.”
“I can’t see Robbo taking a contract with us. I think he is going to go and play north of the border. As it stands, I don’t expect to see him back for pre-season. We negotiated with him and gave him the best offer we possibly could. He respectfully declined it.”
“I’m still trying to re-sign him. We’ve gone as far as we can financially. All players want to stay in the Championship, I understand that, but we can’t have it going on for weeks and weeks. If Matt isn’t going to re-sign in the next week we have to start pressing the button on others. As I stand here at the moment, I’m hoping Matt will stay but I honestly don’t know. It’s not like he’s signing for Manchester United or Barcelona. There aren’t loads of things to discuss like personal sponsorships and all that. It’s a pretty simple contract. It always came down to, can he get better money elsewhere or can he get himself a better opportunity elsewhere? There’s a good opportunity here for him to keep improving and maybe he could leave us in a year or two years’ time for a bigger and better club. At the moment, I honestly believe the best place for him to be is here, but it’s about what him and his advisor think.”