Caretaker manager Paul Warne says he expects Rotherham United’s next permanent boss to be in place before the end of the season. And, speaking to The Star, he revealed for the first time that he is open to accepting the job himself if chairman Tony Stewart offers it to him, as long as certain guarantees are in place. Here’s how he answered questions put to him by our Millers writer, Paul Davis.
PD: At the end of last season the club were left playing ‘catch-up’, particularly in terms of recruitment, when it took Neil Warnock three weeks to decide not to stay. When do you think a decision on the next manager will be made?
PW: I was critical of that situation when it happened, so I won’t be part of that this time around. The decision will be made before the last game of the season without any doubt. If the club have got someone else coming in then, knowing what football is like, they’ll probably be in the stands watching every week, so they will have good information on the players. Some players will leave through natural erosion, but there aren’t a lot of players to make decisions on this year, as opposed to last year.
We as near as damn it know what division we are in next year. I would expect the club to make an appointment before the end of the season. I can’t see it going longer than that. No chance. If it’s not me, a new person will be in, even if they’re just coming in on a passive basis to start with - coming to the training ground, meeting the lads, having a couple of weeks behind the scenes but not taking the team. I could imagine something like that. How it happened last year, I don’t think the club would make that mistake again.
PD: Is the managerial situation something you and Tony Stewart are discussing regularly?
PW: We chat all the time. I speak to him daily. He seems happy with the way the team are performing. We have had casual chats about it. We haven’t had any cemented ones over recent weeks. I presume it will get to a stage soon - maybe this next international break - when the club will have an opportunity to sit down and find out what everybody wants to do.
PD: What’s your thinking on it?
PW: It’s weird. When I took over I said I didn’t want to do it long term. I have changed a little bit. I have grown into a little bit. It’s a bit like when you have a kid, I think. Before you have kids, you can’t imagine a life with them. As soon as you have kids, you can’t remember your life without them. Although I didn’t plan for this route, it feels like I have been a manager for ages. I know it’s been only three months, but it’s probably been the longest three months of my life! I can’t remember being a fitness coach really. So, now, it doesn’t seem such a shock if my route was to take me that way.
But my message is still the same as it’s always been. I’m just happy to work at the club. That is the gospel truth. If the chairman said to me ‘Warney, I definitely want you to do it. Sleep on it, tell me what you think’ and I chose to do it, great. If the chairman said he was definitely giving it to someone else, I’d say ‘great’. I’m not banging the drum in either direction. I’m just trying to do my best in the situation at the moment. I still have this oddly romantic view that I just want the best person to be the manager of this team. If that’s me, great. And if it isn’t me, also great. I have no issue with that.
PD: If Tony Stewart says he wants you to be the next manager, do you know, today, what your answer would be?
PW: That’s a good question. With certain things in place, I know what my answer would be. With certain guarantees of what I can and can’t do, I would do it.
In other news: The Millers have signed Swansea City loan winger Alex Bray on a permanent deal until 2019.
Rotherham head to Wolves tomorrow 19 points adrift of Championship safety but boosted by the return of striker Danny Ward who missed out against Brighton last Tuesday. Left-back Joe Mattock, who limped off against the Seagulls with a hamstring issue, is also fit.
Loan striker Carlton Morris’s long-awaited arrival from Norwich City has been set for Sunday and his hotel has been booked. A pulled hamstring has prevented the 21-year-old, signed during the January transfer window, from heading north earlier, but he is now fully fit. “A full week’s training where he can get to know the lads will be great for him, and he will be in my plans for next week’s match at QPR,” Warne said.