The Paul Warne Column: The Rotherham United boss writes for the Advertiser

The Paul Warne Column: The Rotherham United boss writes for the Advertiser

By Paul Davis | 29/03/2020

The Paul Warne Column: The Rotherham United boss writes for the Advertiser

THE world is a surreal place at the moment. 

As much as we all love football, that's not the most important thing as we come together to fight coronavirus.

There will be loads of things happen that we haven't foreseen or haven't been written in the laws before. 

The season normally has to finish by June 1 but that's been changed by the EFL. There is a lot of change. 

Hopefully, in the weeks and months to come, things will go back to normal and we can enjoy the lads running round again. 

With the position we are in in League One, we would obviously love for the season to be finished properly, but we wouldn't want that to be at the risk of anyone's health or well-being. 

If the season had to be written off, of course I'd be disappointed but you have to put it in the context of what's happening around the world. 

I'm not a fan of the season finishing behind closed doors. That doesn't seem right, in my opinion. 
When we first heard that football would be off until April 3 at the earliest we kept things the same really and the lads carried on training. 

We were going to play Sheffield United on Thursday of last week but in the end we called that off. 
We tried to train in a manner which meant there was a target at the end of it: a game of sorts. We wanted to keep the lads motivated and give them something to work towards. 

We played a five-a-side game on a full-size pitch instead of playing the Blades. It was good fun for me watching them blow!

While we were trying to keep it business as usual, we took no unnecessary risks. We gave the players their spare kit to take home so when they turned up for training they were already in their gear and could just meet us on the pitch.

Then we were told that all football was postponed until at least the end of April and we decided to suspend training at our Roundwood HQ completely.

It would have been remiss and naive of me to just keep training the lads because they'd get to the stage eventually where their bodies aren't going to want to take it and mentally they're not going to want to take it either. 

We've been off all this week. If the games restart in May or June or even July, we don't want to be at  a point where the lads have just had enough of the staff's voices. We need time apart. I want the players to be with their families for obvious reasons. 

I'm already missing the Saturday action. The pressure of matchday is the hardest part of the job. It's the hardest part and the best part in equal measure. 

You take out Saturday and you take the pressure keg out of the job, but the pressure and the drive and the excitement are what make you do it. 

Things have been changing with coronavirus day by day. In fairness to the Government and EFL, they have been trying to do what they think is right. 

No-one knows at this time exactly what is right or wrong. In two years' time, we'll look back and say 'Well, maybe we could have done or not done this'. I don't think there is an answer that is going to please everybody. 

If they cancelled this season, it would be hugely disappointing but in the bigger scheme of things ... well, hopefully we'll all look back on 2020 and have lived through it. 

If we all get through this crisis healthy and happy, I won't lose sleep over what's happening with the football. 

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ON the football side of things, I'm delighted our centre-half, Michael Ihiekwe, doesn't require surgery on his injured knee.

I think Icky has been our stand-out player this season and he was devastated when he hurt himself in our 1-1 draw at Coventry City.

He saw a specialist in London a week last Wednesday. The specialist convinced him during a long chat that he doesn't need an op and that he's got enough fibres on the side of his joint to withstand his recovery. 

He's going to need around nine week of rehab so he could be available by the time we kick a ball again. 

He's already walking virtually pain-free, so that's a positive thing. 

Another of our central defenders, Clark Robertson, has been resting his broken foot.

Robbo has another scan in about three weeks and if he gets the all-clear from that he can kick on with his training as well. 

Potentially, we'll be close to having a lot of defenders back when we play again. That will be universal throughout the league - every club will be getting their injured players back because of this long lay-off. 

If we are fortunate enough to resume playing again this season, all the the clubs will be back somewhere near to full strength. 

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AT some point, the Warne family are getting a dog. The decision has been made.

I've always loved dogs. I was brought up with a dog, my brother's had dogs and I've had dogs in the past. We're a dog sort of family. 

I haven't had one at Warne Acres for about two years and I'm ready to do it again. 

I love playing at Burton Albion because their manager, Nigel Clough, always has his dog in his office after a game. Brilliant. 

He's got a Hungarian Vizsla and they are a cool breed. She is crazy as well. It was great after the game. It was such a stress-reliever. 

We were just sat there feeding her. She had so much chicken - even more than our old goalkeeping coach, Mike Pollitt, could manage, which is very impressive. 

I think that getting a dog will be a good stress-absorber for me. And, as John Breckin always tells me, if you shut your wife and your dog in the boot of your car and leave them there for a day when you undo the boot your dog is still pleased to see you. 

When I get home after a defeat or a poor performance, the kids and my wife sometimes don't look at me for a bit because they know I've got a face like thunder. 

A dog, though, won't be bothered, will it? It will just be: 'He's back, where's my lead? Let's get out.' That will be good. 

The kids are desperate for a dog as well. I'm going to get another Rhodesian Ridgeback. I've had them before. 

My kind of breed

The comedian, Ricky Gervais, tells a good story about them. Gervais is a raving atheist, I know, but he says that when God is sorting out dogs God decrees: 'Let's sort the jobs out. 

'Labradors, you go and find the cake, eat as much as you can and generally just be lazy. Beagles, you go and constantly smell things and chase anything you can. Ridgebacks, you're going to chase lions, run at the side of them as fast as you can and bring them down.' 

'Yeah, yeah,' say the Ridgebacks. 'We're not so sure, God.' 

Ridgebacks are my kind of dogs!

We've contacted a breeder in Doncaster. If I get sacked, I can buy a Winnebago, spend days with my dog in Derbyshire and live happily ever after. 

The kids want to call it Chieo after our winger, Chiedozie Ogbene, because they're say that’s what I'm already used to shouting most Saturday afternoons. 

'Chieo. Chieo. CHIEO.'

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I'VE been working on my physique since our win at Lincoln City last month. 

The Warnes had a weekend family break at Center Parcs after the Friday-night win at Sincil Bank and I wasn't happy with what was coming back at me in the mirror.

When I got home I had a good spell of reducing my running and upping my weights. My body started to look a bit more like it. My abs were back, which was good. 

With one eye on my next holiday - whenever that might be - I might start doing interviews wrapped in Cellophane to keep the weight off.

No, I don't have a pair of tight-fitting Speedos. I do, though, have a pair of pants that the old kitman got me saying 'The Property of Mrs Warne' on the front. 

He got me a size small, which makes it a nice gift but a little bit offensive.

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I SOMETIMES see other managers at official get-togethers, although there will be less of those meetings while we combat coronavirus.

Initially, going up against experienced, successful managers was really intimidating for me. I used to feel like an absolute fraudster. 

But the more LMA meetings I've been to and the more bosses I've seen in their civvy gear, the more I've realised they're just normal people. 

They just like me, only a bit older and wiser. It's quite a unique crowd to belong to. Every manager appreciates the pressure all other managers are under. We're all pretty nice to each other. 

When managers change their job or get sacked, the other managers all text them to wish them all the best. We're quite a tight crew.

 



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