The self-proclaimed best manager in the Championship has put speculation about his own future to one side to have his say on the fate of his survival heroes next season.
Boss Neil Warnock’s Rotherham United are on the brink of second-tier safety after once being cut adrift in the drop zone and could make it a mathematical certainty at home to Huddersfield Town tonight.
The man who has masterminded a run of nine matches without defeat after being appointed on a short-term mission to keep the Millers up has looked beyond the Yorkshire derby to focus on which players should stay and who should go at the end of the campaign.
“I have talked to the chairman (Tony Stewart),” he revealed. “I have given my opinion on what I would do if I was here long term. It is up to Paul (Douglas, chief operating officer) and Tony to take it on board, which I think they will do.”
Players like centre-halves Kirk Broadfoot, Richard Wood and striker/midfielder Matt Derbyshire are out of contract in the summer but have been key figures in the remarkable upturn in form since Warnock took over in February which has seen Rotherham move nine points clear of the drop zone with only four matches left to play.
The 67-year-old added: “I have done everything that a manager should do at a club. You have got to plan for the future. Rotherham can’t afford to get left behind. Rules are changing next year with the loan players so you have to have a bigger squad from the start. You’re not going to get any help after the window closes.”
Warnock has managed three times in the top flight but believes he is better suited to the division below and few would argue with his assessment that: “In the Championship, I don’t think there’s anyone else to touch me. My record is as good as anybody’s.”
He says he will remain in management next season, and his relationship with Stewart could work in favour of a club who are hoping he decides to stay with them. The pair plan to meet in May for discussions.
“Managers work better with good chairmen. I am enjoying working with Tony,” Warnock revealed. “I keep him informed of everything that’s happening and he lets me manage. It’s hard and stressful enough even with a good chairman. But if you have one, it doesn’t half help. I have had a lot of good chairmen, but a lot of medium to bad ones too.
“Being a Yorkshireman, when I shake someone’s hand, that’s it. But over the past ten years, because I have shaken people’s hands and not had things in writing, I have been let down on occasion, and that is diasppointing. But Tony is a little bit like me. He shakes people’s hands and expects that to be it.”
If the Millers win tonight and MK Dons fail to match that result at Sheffield Wednesday, Warnock will have presided over a miraculous esape act.
Rotherham’s only injury concern is Lee Frecklington who is nursing a stiff calf, and the midfield man will have a big say on his own fitness before the side is named. Attacker Danny Ward will be hoping to start against his old club after impressing in recent matches from the bench.
Whoever plays against the Terriers, the Millers boss is confident his side will lack for nothing in spirit.
“A lot of teams at our level who have a lot more money than us, you wouldn’t want some of their players in the trenches with you,” he said.
“The challenge of doing the impossible has always driven me on, I love it when I have lads like these in the trenches with me.”