“One town, one team.”
If Rotherham United manager Paul Warne has achieved anything over the summer, he hopes it’s healing the divisions between club and supporters which were an inevitable consequence of last season’s Championship relegation campaign.
Tomorrow is a new start: League One opening day at Fleetwood Town. Warne’s side and their sold-out away following head there full of optimism after seven signings, eight wins in nine pre-season outings and the exit of several players who were adding nothing to the camp.
In three months, Warne, now in permananent charge after a spell as caretaker boss last term, has transformed the mood surrounding the Millers.
“I harp on about being one team and one town,” said the man looking forward to first full season in the hot-seat.
Back in December, after the ill-fated reigns of Alan Stubb and Kenny Jackett, he lost his first match in charge, 2-1 at Burton Albion, and the emotion of the occasion reduced him to tears several times.
Things are different now.
“Paul Warne the manager is obviously a bit more experienced and I’ve gone through some bleak times,” he told The Star.
“I think I had a really troubled ship to steer. It was like a ship with no water around it really. It was difficult. But I looked and saw where my weaknesses were.
“I’ve gone and done my coaching badges in the summer and I’ve brought in Richie (No 2 Barker)who’s a massive help. Hammy (coach Matt Hamshaw) has shouldered a lot of responsibility over the last six months. He’s a bit of an unsung hero.
“As a manager, I’ve surrounded myself with better people and better players, so it’s an easier job. I say that now. It won’t be that easy if we go and lose the first 10 games. But it makes the job feel easier and it makes me a bit more settled in my skin.”
Pre-season results will count for nothing five minutes into the Fleetwood clash, but Rotherham are entitled to travel to the West Coast encouraged by the events of the last five weeks.
Whatever happens, the manager will handle it better than he used to.
“From a personal point of view, I try to allocate more time to my kids,” he said. I go home and turn my phone off for an hour, no matter what. I turn it back on and it’s an absolute disaster! I try to give myself a little bit more down time.
“I don’t feel I have to be involved in every single thing that happens at the club. I think in the early days I micro-managed too much. I’m a bit more relaxed. I’m not as stressed, although, in fairness, the season hasn’t started yet. I’m well aware of what’s around the corner.
“I’m just trying to look after myself. I read a thing the League Managers Aassociation sent me where a manager said when he first started he was having four meals a day and training and everything was fine.
“Then, within three weeks, he was having no meals a day, just surviving off caffeine and not training. I’ve promised myself I won’t give up on my own health.
“I’m still training really hard. I make sure I’m eating really well. I can’t cut down on the caffeine because I’m addicted! I hope if I look after myself that will then make me a better manager and a happier man.”
This week, he gave heartfelt thanks to supporters for their backing.
“I know that lots of fans have spoken to the players, wishing them all the best,” he said. “Everyone is in a positive mood. It feels like a fresh new club this year. The support from the fans has been great.”
Rotherham go into opening day united.
One town, one team.