Having the fight for the Championship, Richie's coffee concern, Chieo's new role, why there's no debate on corners and the party at his house he didn't know was happening ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne's Advertiser column

Having the fight for the Championship, Richie's coffee concern, Chieo's new role, why there's no debate on corners and the party at his house he didn't know was happening ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne's Advertiser column

By Paul Davis | 06/08/2022

Having the fight for the Championship, Richie's coffee concern, Chieo's new role, why there's no debate on corners and the party at his house he didn't know was happening ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne's Advertiser column

DO I have the fire for another fight against Championship relegation?

I was asked that question last week, just before our opening-day match against Swansea City.

I am hoping this season is not a battle against the drop, I am hoping it turns out to be like the final day of the Tour de France where you can just pedal freely and take everything in.

I don’t want our campaign to become a battle, a slog, a desperate bid to stay up, a year where I worry constantly and hardly ever sleep.

I’ve done enough of that the last twice I’ve led this great club in the second tier and gone down. I’ve done enough of that the last three times I’ve led this club in League One and gone up.

The answer to the question is, I don’t know. That is the honest truth. I know it might not be what fans want to hear from the manager but I have always been candid with people during my time in charge and I’m not changing that policy. It’s who I am.

The go-to managerial answer, of course, is: Oh yes, 100 per cent I have the fire. But, as I’ve just admitted, I don’t know. Right now I feel up for any fight that comes our way.

However, I have no idea how I am going to wake up and feel tomorrow.

I’ve had some pretty horrendous personal news over the last few days, news that makes you look at life differently.

I think — and this has always been the case since day one of me becoming manager — that while I have got the respect of the dressing room and the majority of the fan base, I will always give it everything.

If I feel like that is slipping away ... well, I am no different to anyone else. No-one wants to walk in front of a crowd that doesn’t support him or stand in front of a dressing room that doesn’t believe in him.

I still do the Lottery twice a week. I could win and be travelling the world with none of the pressure that has filled my life for more than five and a half years.

Hopefully we can get in all the players we need, have the sort of start that will get fans buying into the team and just have a really good go. I was pretty enthused by what I saw against Swansea City on opening day.

Whatever way you look at it, a season is ten months of my life so I have got to try to get more enjoyment out of it. I have listened to the ‘Moment of Truth’ podcast I’ve done and realised how hard I am on myself: too hard, way too hard.

I am up for the fight, but if it was to become a brutal fight that sapped everything from me and took its toll on the people around me  ... I keep saying it, I don’t know.

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LAST Wednesday evening saw me sitting at a table at a little coffee place with my assistant manager, Richie Barker, having an Americano or two with him.

He’d invited me out because he was a bit worried about me. We’d played a behind-closed doors at Sheffield United the day before and I wasn’t happy with our performance.

Richie was concerned I was getting in a bit of state. I wasn’t, I’d just been more animated than usual on the touchline because we played some of the young pros in the second half and I was kicking every ball with them.

However, I appreciated his friendship in pulling me to one side and checking up on me.

He and coach Matt Hamshaw are rocks in my life; rocks in different ways.

They’ve got completely different personalities, which I see as a good thing. Hammy sees it a little bit differently to me, I see it a little bit differently to Rich. Between the three of us and goalkeeper coach Andy Warrington, we have many a heated debate when we’re picking the team.

Rich loves the analytical part of things, loves watching the opposition and then reporting back to us. He’s brilliant at that.

Hammy is really good at individual details and is very good on attacking set-pieces.

He and Rich stop a lot of things they don’t think I need hassling with from coming to my door, which is crucial.

I think Hammy’s biggest strength is that hes a real relationship guy. He texts the players and keeps them on their toes.

He’s a straight shooter and if they haven’t performed well he tells them. But because he also gives them a lot of love they take it from him well.

He will become a very good manager while Richie has already been a very good manager. The fact he’s managed before makes him the perfect assistant boss.

If my career takes a different path and in a few years’ time I was someone’s assistant, I would be brilliant at it. I would know what the manager does and doesn’t need to know, what he wants and doesn’t want to know.

The pair of them help me at the training ground, help me on matchdays. They do more than I could ever wish for and virtually run the club for me.

You’re only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself. Luckily for me, I’ve had absolute diamonds.

I think that is why we’ve had, in my eyes, a really successful time at this club. I would never want to replace either of them.

***************

COME in, number 9!

It’s very possible that we will be using Chieo Ogbene in a central attacking role again after his goal and performance against Swansea.

Football is about getting your best players in the team and he can play anywhere really. He looked a real threat against the Swans last Saturday.

The way the Championship is, centre-forwards don’t get beaten up.

There is a lot more ball play so the role definitely suits him.

I like Chieo up top, Chieo likes being up top and he doesn’t have to chase back, so it’s a win-win.

It’s the dream position for him. No-one grows up wanting to be a wing-back, everyone wants to be a striker.

Right now, I definitely see him as a very good 10 behind a 9 or as a 9 himself.

***************

I WAS taken by surprise when I read last weekend that it was 13 years since Sir Bobby Robson died.

It doesn’t seem that long since we lost one of the best football men this country has ever produced.

If there is one coach above all others who I’d have liked to have played for it is him.

He made Ipswich Town one of the best teams in Europe and then worked abroad and did brilliantly in Holland and Spain.

He was a great guy, a sincere guy, a really good person.

Players would run through brick walls for him.

It’s not about shouting and screaming, it’s about the way you treat people. He was ahead of his time on so many levels.

***************

WELL, that escalated quickly!

Maybe I need to stay off the topic of corners from now on.

We never leave a man up when the opposition have one and not every Millers fan agrees with that tactic.

I know this because I have it brought to my attention by supporters probably more than any other subject — and their concerns arent always expressed in language I’d be happy for my dear old mum to hear.

I said in a radio phone-in last week that fans who are obsessed with it shouldn’t come and watch us because our policy won’t be changing.

It was meant as light-hearted frustration to a supporter’s question but a lot of people seem to have taken it very seriously. Let me make it clear now: I was joking!

Our record at defending corners last season was excellent — the best in the division, I think.

It’s all about not conceding when the other team has one, not about you finding a way to score from it.

I accept that if we changed our system and left a player up on the halfway line it might lead to the opposition moving one of their players back to mark him.

But I would argue that that would give the opposing team more space in the penalty area to attack us, and I’m not prepared to let that happen.

I’d like people to send me a video of their ten favourite goals of teams breaking from defensive corners and scoring.

It’s like a unicorn or Mrs Warne being happy with her weight. I don’t believe it exists.

***************

MY best mate’s son is leaving home to go to university in America so him and all his pals, including my boy, Mack, met up for a farewell get-together.

For some reason, they decided — without telling me — that it would take place at my house!

I was sitting there happily watching TV with my missus when about 15 lads just came walking unannounced through Warne Acres.

I asked what was going on and Mack informed me: ‘Oh, it’s Ryan’s leaving party, Dad.’

My next question — quite reasonably, I thought — was: ‘Why isn’t it at Ryan’s house then? Ryan’s gaff has got a hot-tub and everything. I wouldn’t have minded an invite to a party there myself.

They ended up playing pool and having a good laugh. Meanwhile, I ended up in a queue to use the bathroom in my own fricking home.