TWO former players, loved by the fans, making a name for themselves as the management duo of the club they represented on the field for so many years.
Where have we heard that before?
Rotherham United manager Paul Warne and his new assistant Richie Barker pulled on the famous red and white of the Millers and enjoyed arguably their most successful time as players, rising to the second tier of English football and staying there.
The management team of that era – club legends Ronnie Moore and John Breckin – also both had very successful playing careers with the Millers.
That draws natural comparisons and when the news of the 41-year-old’s appointment was eventually confirmed on Thursday fans took to social media to highlight just that.
And although only time will tell whether Warne and Barker can replicate their old bosses, the latter would be happy to experience half the success that they achieved.
The former Charlton and MK Dons assistant told the Advertiser: “You’ve got two people who have a big affinity with the football club (Moore and Breckin), and who know what it takes to be successful here.
“That’s not always a ready-made success but if we can achieve half of what Ronnie and Brecks did then we’d take that now.
“They’re arguably the most successful management duo this club has had. Then you put in how many games they’ve both played, the contribution that those two have made over the last 40 or 50 years is huge.
“If we are to be the new Ronnie and Brecks then that must mean we have been successful.”
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Barker, who had managerial experience with Crawley and Portsmouth, isn’t shy when looking back to the past and remembers the Millers’ unlikely rise through the leagues with fondness.
But Barker says it is the players’ work ethic, determination and spirit that helped them overachieve, and that is something he would like to replicate following Rotherham’s relegation to League One.
He said: “It’s no coincidence that three of us have ended up back here. One thing I would say is nearly everyone who played in that team has gone on to be a manager or coach. Polly (goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt), Chris Swailes, Rob Scott, Hursty (Shrewsbury manager Paul Hurst), Martin McIntosh, Chris Sedgwick, Andy Monkhouse has started, myself.
“I think that gives you a fair indication of what type of people we were. We were grafters, workers; people who liked playing the game. We weren’t in it for the money or the fame.
“We could probably get a team together that played and everyone has been a coach, which for a team like Rotherham United 15 years ago, is a hell of an achievement for a group of people.”
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Warne and Barker have been friends since their playing days. Their wives socialise, their children are around the same age and they used to go running together on Herringthorpe playing fields while everyone else was tucking into their Christmas dinners.
But did Barker ever see Warne stepping up to the manager’s hot seat? “Not a chance,” he said with a smile.
“All managers get to where they want to be in different ways,” he added.
“I roomed with Hursty for four years and I’d sit there doing my coaching work and he’d go ‘I don’t know what you’re messing about with all that for’, now he’s a manager in League One.
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“People get to wherever they want to get to in loads of different ways – there’s no one set way.
“Warney has an affinity for this place now and people have an affinity for him, if you ask him I bet he didn’t think he was going to be a manger.
“But all managers are different, and they all get there in different ways.”
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