Date: 15th February 2018 at 10:45am
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Is Paul Warne The Most Underrated Manager In League One

Rotherham United quietly moved up the table into fourth place on Tuesday night making it the highest position the Millers have been in since Paul Warne took over the reigns at the end of November 2016.

If nothing else Warney was enthusiastic. His first game in charge was an away trip to Burton and from him taking over as caretaker until the morning of the game he’d got the remaining Millers fans into such a frenzy that we actually believed we were going to win. We didn’t, we lost two-one and the interview Paul Warne gave after that game brought a lump to our throats. Had a manager ever been as near to tears as our caretaker boss was after that game?

He then had the Millers ‘best player’ taken from under him when Chelsea took Izzy Brown back and then sent him out on loan to rivals Huddersfield. And although he could have thrown in the towel and said ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ (not unlike a certain person who got him into this ‘mess’ in the first place). Warney didn’t do that. He carried on.

To say he was a reluctant manager is a bit of an understatement so after the Chairman had told us there were ‘a number of applicants’ for the vacant position then gave the job to Warney until the end of the season made a few of the fans, admittedly me included, sit up, arch our eyebrows and speculate.

We speculated that ‘the number of applicants’ was perhaps a fabrication, we speculated that although we knew we were already down that season barring a miracle (which didn’t come) we’d be doing a double relegation dance but mostly we decided that it was ‘the cheap option’.

A relegation on your CV as first stint as a manager might have toppled other people but not Paul Warne who’d already told us in February that he was helping to build the team up for League One the following season – for whoever took over.

So when Warney was given the job on a rolling contract in April last year I don’t think it was much of a surprise.

He brought in his own staff, he brought in his own players, he got rid of players he didn’t think fit in with what he was doing. He became known as ‘Gaffer’ and not ‘Warney’ and he got on with the job. A job he suddenly found himself growing into.

He brought players in both on contract and on loan with a few of us scratching our heads and saying ‘who’? And OK it didn’t start so well losing the first game away at Fleetwood but no tears this time, just more enthusiasm. We won a cup game then we scored five goals at home and then a bit of a blip before we won away from home, the first away win since April 2015.

After winning five of the six games in December Warney was awarded the Manager of the Month, saying it was ‘for the team’ not just him – well all managers say that, but Paul Warne actually meant it. With him it’s a team effort from the starting eleven, to the subs, to the management team, to the team behind the scenes to the fans – we’re all in this together.

At the start of this season the bookies, pundits, fans (ours included) didn’t give us much thought expecting us to be around the bottom half of mid-table (if that makes sense). A few took a bit more notice when Warney got his award for December and I even heard he got a mention on that Channel Five football programme this week.

In the past we’ve had the likes of Steve Evans and Neil Warnock both who did well for the Millers and both who are, shall we say in the nicest possible way, fond of hearing their own voices. And I believe that Rotherham United would not have been the club it is without these two crossing it’s path.

But Paul Warne has built this team of mostly youngsters and in managerial terms has grown up with them. Whatever happens at the end of the season I hope Paul Warne gets the recognition he deserves, I hope he gets a proper contract but, most of all, I hope he’s still here.

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