Penalties, hate crime and the Italian Job ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne writes for the Advertiser

Penalties, hate crime and the Italian Job ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne writes for the Advertiser

By Paul Davis | 17/07/2021

Penalties, hate crime and the Italian Job ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne writes for the Advertiser
Marcus Rashford misses from the spot against Italy

NO complaints. Italy deserved to beat England in the Euro 2020 Final.

I watched the match at home and had a couple of friends round, good people who aren’t football lunatics so they weren’t shouting at the screen.

I can’t bear all that kind of stuff and I was in quite a calm state.

Me and my assistant manager, Richie Barker, laughed about how nervous everybody got on the day of the final.

The nerves fans felt is probably the closest they’ll ever be to being a manager. That is how we feel every single game.

You can understand why managers look a little older or drink too much alcohol because that is the stress we go through 50 times a season.

People were texting me before kick-off saying: ‘What do you reckon? 2-0 or 3-0 England?’ I’m thinking: ‘Are you joking?’ Italy are excellent, haven’t lost in more than 30 games and have a bit more experience than us.

For us to get to the final is some achievement but we’re a long way off being European champions, in my opinion.

Italy were technically better than us, were much better at the dark arts than us and thoroughly merited their victory.

We didn’t deserve to win but we were possibly only one penalty away from bringing home the trophy. I think if Marcus Rashford’s penalty had gone in then the shoot-out would have taken a different path.

When the opposition miss one, you have got to follow that up with you scoring. That was the turning point for me.

I feel for the three England lads who missed. They will feel the pain for a long time. It’s a brave thing to step up and take one when the pressure is on like that.

Football is a team sport and that is the only time it becomes an individual one. The whole of Europe is looking at just the one of you.

You can have done as much psychological training as you like but you still have demons as you walk up to the ball. You worry that the keeper has guessed which way you’re going to go so then you double-guess yourself.

Had we played like Italy did and then lost on penalties it would have been much harder for me to take, but we lost to a better team and that makes it easier to accept.

It’s easy to forget how young the trio who missed are. Bukayo Saka is 19. He’s three years younger than our own Ben Wiles.

People have criticised the coaching staff for allowing him to take one, but if he’s good enough to be in the side, has been the best penalty-taker in training and says he wants to take one, then why wouldn’t you let him?

It wouldn’t be good management to tell him: ‘Look, I know you’re the best penalty-taker and you want to take one and I’ve trusted you to play in a Euros final, but I don’t trust you in a shoot-out.’

Having said all that, I did think it was odd that he took the last one.

It says a lot about Saka’s character that he was willing to take one. It just wasn’t to be.

Once we’d lost in the manner we did, with three black players missing from the spot, I knew what was coming.

My 15-year-old daughter has chosen for her English project the subject of social media and the effects it has. She’s got all these stats about young girls and likes and dislikes and she’s also included a bit about how her dad is affected when he gets abuse.

I picked her up from her mate’s house where she’d watched the final and she was visibly traumatised.

She was like: ‘Oh no, Dad. Saka’s missed. He’s going to get abused now.’ She knew it was about to happen.

It was my first thought as well, and it shouldn’t be. I hate it. It makes me embarrassed to be English when I see some of the stuff that’s written, although I accept it also happens in every country around the world.

It’s just abhorrent. The same idiots who pretend to support players abuse them when things don’t go well. If you’re a supporter, the clue is in the word: you support people, you don’t hammer them.

It’s got to a stage now where the authorities have to act because the social media companies like Twitter and Facebook aren’t regulating it themselves.

There has to be more control over who is allowed an account. If someone makes a racist comment at a football ground, they get evicted and face prosecution.

We’ve made good progress in that area, although it’s still far from perfect. If you do it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever, it should be jail time.

Social media has become a platform for hate crime. Enough is enough.

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LAST Sunday was the first time England have played in a major final in my lifetime.

I’m still the right side of 50 so the 1966 World Cup triumph was before my time.

All I’ve really known is a lot of hurt and disappointment.

I’ve said to my 17-year-old son that he’s not allowed to enjoy it as much as me. I’ve had 48 years of suffering, then he’s turned up on the scene and had a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final.

He thinks it’s great being an England fan. It is not great.

You suffer year on year and earn any tiny slice of joy you get.

There should be a pecking order based on age when England finally win something again.

Supporters in their 80s and 90s can go crazy if their bodies allow them to, then it comes to the late 40s or above and we can go daft as well.

But you teenagers with your Phil Foden haircuts who’ve been bouncing around in the street and throwing cans in the air for the last month, know your place.

You don’t get to celebrate until us oldies are lying face down in the garden with a bottle of lager in each hand.

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IT’S great to be in Budapest where the players and staff are together 24:7.

I do love a boot camp. Four training sessions a day and early alarm calls to go running. What’s not to like?

It’s been very difficult to organise but I think it’s essential that we got away this week.

I’ve made no bones about the fact that the end of last season and our relegation from the Championship hit everyone hard.

I think the change of scenery will do us good. Also, the pitches at our Roundwood complex are still coming through and it will give them a break.

The lads will be trained hard but I’m looking forward to having some fun with them as well. It’s not all work.

We’ve not taken any new faces with us so we don’t have to have as many laborious meetings as normal because the lads already know what we expect of them.

We can have a bit more of a ‘craic’, which will be nice for us all, although the early-morning running and quadruple sessions will obviously still happen.

We had to do so much paperwork to get here and the backroom staff have done brilliantly to get it all sorted.

We had to have confirmation from the Hungarian police — they couldn’t have been more helpful — and we’re being Covid-tested all the time.

To be honest, I was a bit afraid that we’d get here and get turned away but everything has been good. We flew out on Monday night and come back on Sunday.

The accommodation is ‘ledg’. There are pitches, a gym with loads of spinning bikes and a pool. There is everything we need.

A couple of other teams are here as well so me and Rich have watched them train and they’ve been watching us.

It’s very warm. I don’t normally choose such a warm climate for a pre-season trip. It’s going to be a real test for the lads.

I’m compiling this column late on Tuesday morning and so far the players have been doing loads of ball work just to get Monday’s journey out of them.

They’ll get slaughtered in the fitness session on Tuesday evening, though. They’re not supposed to be aware of it but I think they know it’s coming.

On Wednesday night we’ve got a game against an Hungarian Second Division side and it’s likely to be in 40-degree heat. That’s going to be tough, but we can have a look at a few things and a couple of different systems.

It’s just nice to come away and have some quality time with the lads, to be able to sit outside and have a coffee and a chat with a few individuals.

We’re changing the morning run this year a little bit and turning it into more of a triathlon thing so we can run on the grass and also make use of the spinning bikes and the pool

It’s really friendly out here; the opposite of London.

Everyone keeps coming up and saying ‘hello’. It’s right up my street.

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WE’RE up and running.

It was good to blow away the cobwebs with our first pre-season friendly last Saturday against our non-league neighbours, Parkgate FC

Our supporters were back for the first time since March 2020, the sun was out and it was a brilliant day.

It’s a nice way to say ‘hello’ to the fans at the start of the season and it’s a nice way to thank Parkgate for the terrific relationship we have with them.

Both us and the Steelmen call Roundwood home and we know this annual fixture is of real financial benefit to them. We wish them all the best for their season.

This was the first sort of big practice the lads have had since we came back for summer training. Obviously there are a lot of things we need to work on, but I really enjoyed it.

Fans watching again, eh? It seemed a bit weird, to be honest. I’m not saying I was uncomfortable with it but it did feel odd after playing in empty stadiums for so long during the Covid pandemic.

It was lovely to hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ going about. Sadly, we couldn’t have as many spectators as we’d normally have in there.

Also unfortunately, we didn’t have any new faces for anyone to look at, but that will come.

It was nice that people could see the players in the flesh. I laughed with our goalkeeper, Josh Vickers, before kick-off. He’s been here for 12 months and this was the first time I was seeing him in a competitive game.

I said: ‘If you’ve got no hands I’m in big trouble. You’ve conned me into a new deal.’

Our young striker, Josh Kayode, made his first appearance for us since his season on loan at League Two Carlisle United where he went to build up his experience.

He played the first half and I thought he did well, although I would have liked him to let the trigger go earlier a couple of times.

The first couple of things he did weren’t the best. That happens in football. You just have to let it go straightaway. He then played himself into the game well and was a threat.

In the first half, we didn’t cross the ball quickly enough. We took too long to put the ball in Parkgate’s box. But me and my number two, Rich, had made a decision to just let the lads play.

We weren’t going to stand there, scream at them and demand certain things. On another day we would have been ‘encouraging’ them more.

Josh should be pleased with himself. It’s tough to get into our team and his performances in pre-season are going to have to be at a high level for him to get on the pitch in our League One campaign.

I’m all for trying to encourage our young players to come through and these kind of games are a great opportunity for them.

The two Jakes, Cooper and Hull, were good and young Sam Greenhouse at right-back did well in the second half.

I really liked our midfielder, Curtis Durose, in the first half. He was excellent. I’ve seen him play a lot because he plays centre mid with my son in the under-18s.

I think he’s got a really good footballing brain. We asked him to play narrow and pick up pockets of space and he got the ball in good areas.


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