They've ruined my weekend, I'll ruin theirs ... Warne reacts to QPR 5 Rotherham United 1
Shameful Saturday gave way to '˜I'll see you on Sunday'.
Paul Warne wasn’t accepting what he’d seen in the second half at QPR as his team crashed to their second heaviest defeat of the season and their 19th loss in 20 away matches.
He knew his weekend was already over, so he was about to make sure his players weren’t going to have one either.
“It hurts me as a Rotherham lad, so to speak, to lose,” said the Millers caretaker manager, former player and club legend who was born in Norfolk but has long belonged in South Yorkshire.
“It needs to hurt them. We’ll have them in tomorrow. We’ll watch the game back. They can watch what we had to watch.
“I didn’t lose my rag with them after the game because it’s not worth my health. But, as I stand here now, I feel like they need to take some responsibility for what they’ve done.
“I know my weekend is ruined. I have no shame in ruining their weekends. I don’t give a monkeys. My Sunday will be horrendous at home with my kids and that’s not fair on my kids.
“The players can feel the pain I’m feeling.”
Rotherham are bottom of the Championship, 24 points from safety with only 24 left to play for. They weren’t relegated at Loftus Road only because results elsewhere went their way.
Warne said the scoreline was “embarrassing”. His description of side’s defending ranged from “a calamity” to “abysmal” to “howling”.
On many other days, we’d have been focusing on the quality of Joe Newell’s first-half equaliser, a 25-yard half-volley struck so sweetly that it’s a leading contender for Millers Goal of the Season.
It came eight minutes after QPR’s fifth-minute opener as Matt Smith shot across goal and in from the left and only two minutes before the home side regained the lead when Luke Freeman took advantage of awful Semi Ajayi dithering to nip round the Rotherham centre-half and beat goalkeeper Lewis Price.
But Newell’s moment of magic counted for nothing as Ian Holloway’s team took control after the break and added two more goals before an hour had been played.
Yeni Ngbakoto converted a 49th-minute penalty softly conceded by Aimen Belaid for a push on Smith and Massimo Luongo, once a Millers target when Steve Evans was manager, had all the room in the world to direct his header into Price’s left-hand corner after 57 minutes.
“I honestly believe we were the better side in the first half,” Warne said. “When they went 2-1 behind, the lads had a go. The set-pieces might have fallen for us on another day.
“At half-time, I said some home truths about our defending. I thought it was abysmal. As an attacking force, I didn’t think we looked too bad.
“To then concede two so early in the second half ... that was game over. You could tell, regrettably, our lads are used to losing. I’m not saying they threw the towel in. That’s not what they did. But they just wanted the final whistle after 65 minutes, which is disappointing.”
Th fifth goal, in time added on, a close-range finish from Nedum Onuoha as he lost marker Tom Adeyemi, was nothing more than a sorry footnote, simply summing up one side’s superiority and the other’s failings.
He should have scored, but he didn’t.
It wasn’t guranteed he would look good, but he did.
Young striker Carlton Morris made Rotherham wait six weeks for his loan arrival from Norwich City as he recovered from hamstring trouble.
Warne made him wait for 70 minutes for his debut in West London and the 6ft-plus 21-year-old pepped up the Millers late on with his pace, close control and one or two neat passes. Physically, he looks an athlete.
He dragged Danny Ward’s set-up wastefully wide three minutes after coming on. Other than that, in his first ever second-tier outing, he was a glimpse of promise on a dire day.
Previous manager Kenny Jackett bailed out after five matches when he realised just what he had inherited from Alan Stubbs. Warne, in interim charge ever since, has stuck it out for 21.
He’s enjoyed some parts and endured others of a season of a club-record 29 defeats and 11 losses in the last 12 outings.
With the international break now upon us, Rotherham can’t be relegated until April 1, when Fulham are at New York Stadium, after which seven fixtures will remain.
2015 whipping boys Blackpool went down on April 6 with six games to go, while last season’s big strugglers, Bolton Wanderers, dropped on April 9 when they had five matches left.
Warne has cried a bit, tried to smile a lot. And suffered more than he usually lets on as he’s done his utmost with a team and situation not of his own making.
“I don’t stay positive at all,” he said, as low as he was when his men lost 5-0 at Cardiff last month. “It absorbs your whole life. I don’t know how people do management for 20 years. It’s difficult. I don’t know who motivates the motivator, so to speak.
“I’ll speak to my wife and kids and try to get away from it if I can. But then I won’t because we’ll be back in on Sunday.”
The humour, briefly, re-emerged. Gallows-like.
“It’s never-ending really. I enjoy lack of sleep, having ulcers in my mouth all the time. It’s a right laugh.”