ROTHERHAM United will keep faith in manager Paul Warne even if they suffer the Championship drop this season.
The third-bottom Millers are fighting for their lives and have three matches left to avoid an immediate return to League One, starting at home to Blackburn Rovers this weekend.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the campaign, Warne’s job is safe, chairman Tony Stewart has confirmed.
“The manager is there to excite, enthuse, encourage and to maximise what he can get from his team,” the chairman said. “What I’m seeing is good.
“I said to Warney two weeks ago: ‘Get your head down. Whether we’re up or down, I shan’t fire you.’
“We’ve got a guy who is still a young man and still learning. Let’s not forget that we’ve done Wembley with this guy, that we’ve got two promotions with this guy. I am happy with Paul Warne to carry on into next season and beyond.”
Warne has been in the AESSEAL New York Stadium hot-seat for more than four years. He has been promoted in both his seasons in the third tier once via the play-off final but has yet to keep the Millers in the division above for more than a single campaign.
The 47-year-old, whose has a contract along with assistant boss Richie Barker until 2023, has made Rotherham competitive in the Championship this term despite other teams having much bigger budgets.
Stewart is aware that clubs elsewhere will have taken notice of Warne’s achievements and may try to lure him away, particularly if the manager succeeds in his survival mission.
“I think you’d have to ask Paul on that one,” he said. “He’d have to weigh it up for himself. What he’s got at Rotherham is longevity. You only have to look at his mate, Paul Hurst. He jumped (from Shrewsbury Town to Ipswich Town) and it didn’t work out.
“You can never see inside a manager’s head. What I would say is, has Paul Warne been good for Rotherham? Yeah. Have Rotherham been good for Paul? Yeah. Does it fit like an old slipper? Yeah, it does. Is it comfortable? Yeah.
“We’ve made it as comfortable as we can do. We’ve never fallen out, we’ve always had constructive discussions and I take him as a friend more than a manager now.”
Rotherham face Blackburn at New York on Saturday before Tuesday’s trip to Luton Town and a last-day clash at Cardiff City next weekend.
Meanwhile, the Millers have taken advantage of the EFL’s offer of an interest-free loan to Championship clubs to help them combat the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Up to £8.3 million was potentially available to every side and Rotherham are receiving around £2m.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Stewart said. “An interest-free loan means cash flow. It’s a pay-back over four years if you’re in the Championship and six years if you’re in League One.”
MANAGER Paul Warne admitted the table “doesn’t look great” after Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at Brentford left Championship survival out of Rotherham United’s own hands.
The third-bottom Millers, who have three matches left, are now relying on Derby slipping up if they are to have any chance of safety.
“It’s a big blow, obviously,” said Warne after the Bees loss. “We came here to try to get something and we know Derby will be over the moon with that result.
“If we were to win on Saturday and Derby didn’t then we would be right back in it. It could swing. In fairness, even a draw on Saturday would keep us in it. We have a better goal difference. But at the moment the league table doesn’t look great.”
Rotherham are four points behind the Rams who have played a game more.
CHAIRMAN Tony Stewart has pointed the finger at bungling referees but stopped short of claiming there is a plot to manoeuvre Rotherham United out of the Championship this season.
The Millers’ bid for second-tier survival has been undermined by a number of blunders by matchday officials, the worst of which have come in recent games.
Midfielder Matt Crooks is serving a three-match ban after the FA refused to rescind a wrongly-issued red card at Middlesbrough last Wednesday while Rotherham lost goalkeeper Viktor Johansson to a second-minute elbow in the face at Barnsley on Saturday that resulted in a winner for the home side and no foul being given.
“Our main bogey in this campaign has been poor refereeing,” Stewart said. “We’re talking about seven or eight points if not more that we should have had where after a game a referee has said: ‘I’m sorry, I’ve made a mistake.’ They’ve admitted it was offside and shouldn’t have been a goal or we should have had a penalty.”
On the subject of whether he believed there were moves behind the scenes against the Millers, he said: “If somebody asked me if I thought there was a conspiracy ... no, I’d say no.
“I just feel that some clubs like Rotherham don’t get the same cut of the cake as the bigger clubs. The referees have mental pictures in their head and I don’t know what you can do about that.”
Stewart was angered by the Oakwell performance of referee Gavin Ward who failed to act when Carlton Morris’s elbow caught Johansson flush in the eye during an aerial challenge that led to the former Millers loanee scoring.
“We lost at least a point on Saturday because of a bad decision and there have been too many,” he said. “It’s like trying to fight with one hand tied behind your back. The standard of refereeing has been dire. It’s not just me complaining, many people are complaining about it.
“To award the goal and then stand in the goalmouth for four or five minutes while the concussed goalkeeper is trying to get his wits together ... you couldn’t write it. It’s unbelievable.”
THE referee at the centre of the derby-day ‘no foul’ storm blanked Rotherham United manager Paul Warne after the game.
The Millers were left fuming at Oakwell last Saturday when Gavin Ward (right) allowed an early Barnsley goal to stand despite goalkeeper Viktor Johansson being caught in the eye by scorer Carlton Morris’s elbow.
Warne approached the Surrey official following the Championship contest against Rotherham’s South Yorkshire rivals only to be turned away.
“I tried to speak to the ref, but he did not want to speak to me,” the boss revealed.
The incident came three days after midfielder Matt Crooks had been wrongly red-carded against Middlesbrough by Darren Bond, the referee who had done the same to striker Michael Smith at Sheffield Wednesday last month.
Smith’s dismissal was overturned but the FA rejected Rotherham’s appeal in Crooks’ case and upheld a three-game suspension.
Many observers believe the decision was taken only to spare Bond the stain of a third rescindment of the season.
The Lancashire man didn’t officiate at a match last weekend and Warne said: “I don’t think he has having a busy week. You can read into that what you like.”
Centre-half Clark Robertson is due to return to training tomorrow (Friday) after an achilles complaint although it is unclear if he will feature in the Millers’ remaining games.
Warne said: “I don’t want to come out and say his season is over but he has to get a lot of things right to get back into training and to get fit.”