IF there’s anyone qualified to compare like-with-like and gauge what’s coming up for Rotherham United then it’s club legend Paul Warne.
After all, the player-turned-coach is the club’s link between the last back-to-back promotion and this one.
The man everyone calls Warney is now Development Coach but, as befits someone who has always prided himself on his fitness, is very much involved in work on fitness aspects of the squad.
Manager Steve Evans said many times during the season that there was no fitter team in League One.
Paul was up front in the side which came out of what’s now League Two in 2000 as runners-up and he barely stopped running in helping that Ronnie Moore team go straight through into The Championship the following season.
And the one-time striker, just turned 41, sees similarities between the team then and now.
“Neither was fancied for promotion from League One and we enjoyed being the underdogs back then but in both seasons, there are similarities in that both teams started to start to really believe a lot more about halfway through,” said Paul. “And they went on good runs.
“Both sides were extremely hard working. We were more the ruffians, the misfits, but we all got on so well together. This current side has great energy levels, works hard, is together but has a lot of ability. They were similar in that both were extremely good away from home.
“We felt honoured going into The Championship and we’d chuckle when we were in the tunnel at some of the names in the opposition but there was absolutely no pressure or expectation. The joke was could we get to 40 points.
“I think this current set of players, who have performed in the big games, will relish the challenges ahead. They certainly won’t feel inferior.
“I don’t think a lot of teams will enjoy playing against us and, sometimes, you don’t appreciate how difficult this side has been to play against this season.
“We may have to be a bit smarter at times but they have a momentum, are used to winning and that can help them next season.”