The last day ... Rotherham United boss Paul Warne on tomorrow, the survival dream and his future

Paul WarnePaul Warne
Paul Warne
MANAGER Paul Warne says it will "the underdog story of the season" if Rotherham United defy the odds to seal Championship survival on the final day of the season.

The third-bottom Millers will stay up if they win at Cardiff City tomorrow and Derby County fail to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park.

Warne's men have remained in the hunt despite operating on one of the division's smallest budgets, being hit by two outbreaks of Covid in their camp and being robbed by injuries of a number of key players during their campaign.

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"Saturday will define our season," the boss said. "It would be an amazing feeling for me to stand at the size of the pitch at Cardiff and the final whistle goes and we've won and I get told Derby haven't won.

"It would be a fitting end to a crazy year. We would be the underdog story of the season. This will feel like a play-off final to my team."

The squad were today training at AESSEAL New York Stadium. where a series of good-luck messages from supporters were displayed on the big screen, before travelling to South Wales.

Warne will use the evening in a hotel near the City of Cardiff Stadium to try to inspire his side even further.

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"I've got loads of stats I want to show the lads and clips of some of the greatest things we've done this season, to really make them believe it's achievable," he said.

"I'm not confident the other result will go our way and we'll get the result we want, but I am confident of a performance. The 11 I send out will definitely give it their job lot. They will not let this club down."

The manager will use the off-season to reflect on the events of 2020/21. Having been told by owner Tony Stewart that his job is safe even if the Millers go down, he doesn't envisage being anywhere other than at New York next year.

"I am just going to have a couple of weeks downtime," he said. "It's great to have the chairman's support. I want to be the right person for the job. I give everything I possibly can.

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"I am a Rotherham fan. I want them to do well. But I am ambitious and I want to do well for my family.

"I will be amazed if I ever come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be the manager of this amazing football club."

The Bluebirds clash will be the Millers' 12th match in 37 days - a frenetic run-in caused by Covid postponements  - and Warne is calling for one last effort in adversity from his weary squad.

"I just think we've been dealt an unlucky hand; not an intentional hand, not a conspiratorial hand, just an unlucky one," he said.

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"The lads will leave it all out there. They know that after the game they won't have to listen to my dour tones again for about seven weeks.

"A win is the only result that gives us any chance of staying up. We'll approach the game with fresh minds, fresh optimism and just go for it."

Rotherham could have been well clear of the drop zone but have paid the price for failing to convert too many opportunities in front of goal.

"I've had a meeting with my analyst," Warne said. "With the number of chances we've created, on expected goals we'd be something like 11th in the league. It's not a criticism of individuals. As a team, we've missed chances at set-pieces. Strikers, centre-halves and centre mids have all missed them."

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Eighth-placed Cardiff have the eighth-best defensive record in the Championship and Warne added: "This is a mathematical conundrum for Carol Vorderman. We're going to have to create a lot to score a lot against a team that doesn't concede a lot. There you go. I've done well to get that sentence out.

"It's going to be a tough game but it is on a big pitch, which I do think suits us.

"We've been competitive all season. We've lost 19 games by a single-goal margin, which is pretty hard to take. We've never sat behind the ball. We've always tried to win games. Saturday will be no different."