Miracle-worker Neil Warnock says Rotherham United must make new signings if they are to build on their Championship great escape.
The survival saviour has saluted the spirit of the Millers squad who have gone 11 matches unbeaten to seal their place in the second tier.
But, after masterminding the club’s remarkable climb out of the bottom three to 19th place since his February arrival, the manager knows reinforcements are required to avoid another battle against relegation next season.
“The recruitment has to be spot on,” he said. “We need four or five players and see where it goes from there.”
Warnock has yet to decide whether he will remain at AESSEAL New York Stadium when his short-term deal expires next month but has already made recommendations to chairman Tony Stewart about which out-of-contract players are worth keeping.
Among those whose terms run out in the summer are midfielder Matt Derbyshire, centre-halves Kirk Broadfoot and Richard Wood, right-back Stephen Kelly and striker Leon Best, all of whom have played major roles in Warnock’s revival.
Other players whose contracts are due to end are goalkeepers Alex Cairns, Adam Collin and Paddy Kenny, right-backs Frazer Richardson and Lewis Buxton, central defenders Danny Collins and Lloyd Doyley, midfielders Paul Green and Emmanuel Ledesma, winger Jerome Thomas and centre-forward Luciano Becchio.
No boss in the English game has won more promotions than Warnock’s seven, but the 67-year-old believes the job he has done at the other end of the table with Rotherham, who were once six points adrift of a safety spot and now stand 10 points above the drop zone, tops anything in his past roll of honour.
“It ranks alongside me getting Scarborough promoted as my first managerial success,” he revealed. “I took over there in the summer and I only had one player signed. I took 40-odd players over, told them this was the Man Utd of non-league and convinced them to join us.
“That was a fabulous achievement. But this is the Championship, a lot higher standard, with a group of players who couldn’t really believe they could do it.
“But look at them now. Everyone wants to be in that dressing room because that is what football is all about, getting results, the camaraderie it builds.”
Warnock, having stated his intention to manage in the Championship again next season, is holding talks with Stewart this week about the prospect of staying with the Millers.
Supporters are desperate for him to sign up for another year after witnessing an 11-game undefeated sequence which is Rotherham’s best at this level since 1966.
“They will be talking about this in 20 years,” he said. “I feel immensely proud of what we have done. We haven’t brought anybody in - we have brought in only a couple of fringe lads - but they have all responded in a a magnificent way. I have enjoyed every minute of it.”