He was the man with the long-term plan who became the boss who served Rotherham United for the shortest ever amount of time.
And that, says Neil Redfearn, was the major disappointment of his time with the Millers.
“The main regret is that I wasn’t given the chance to do the job I was appointed to do,” said Redfearn, speaking at length for the first time since being sacked as manager just over three weeks ago.
“I was brought in to develop the youth side of things, to add strength under the first team, to help the club develop their own players, and that was the principle reason behind me accepting the role.”
Redfearn was fired after just 120 days as successive Championship defeats against Charlton and Bolton left Rotherham in the Championship drop zone.
But he is convinced he would have led the Millers to second-tier survival.
“We had seven results (five wins and two draws) in 20 league games,” he said. “That’s about right for a club like Rotherham at this level. We had beaten enough sides - and top sides like Hull and Brighton, don’t forget - for me to know we were capable of beating people and had enough about us to stay up.
“We were unlucky with injuries. Leon Best and Stephen Kelly were signed as big players for us but were hardly available and we really missed Frecks (skipper Lee Frecklington). He brings so much to the side with his energy and attitude.”
After the departure of Steve Evans, the Millers brought in Redfearn and also introduced a technical board, which included the new boss, chairman Tony Stewart, vice-chairman Richard Stewart, chief executive officer Paul Douglasn and head of recruitment Gee Evans, to oversee the club’s transfer policy.
“I understand the need for the board after the signing 90-odd players in just over three years,” he said. “There had to be more control.
“The flip side is that sometimes I wanted to do something and it got in the way. It wasn’t just me making the decisions, and when you’re a manager you need to stand or fall by your own decisions.”
But he looks back on his Millers spell with “fondness”, saying he met plenty of decent people and always appreciated the backing he was given by fans.
“It’s a good club and I hope they don’t go down,” he said.
Redfearn revealed he had enjoyed a “good relationship” with owner Stewart who had been supportive right up until that fateful Monday on February 8 when the manager thought he was attending a meeting about loan signings and was shocked to learn of his fate.
“There’s no bitterness,” he said. “That’s how football has gone. As in a lot of areas of life, everything is so immediate. It’s like fast food. People have to eat right now.”
One thing that isn’t about ‘now’ is Redfearn’s next move. After feeling he was discarded too soon, he’s ready to bide his time, despite already receiving several offers.
“I’m doing some radio summarising and enjoying that. There’s less pressure,” he grinned.
“One thing I’ve learned down the years is that I have the ability to make players better. I know football. The next job has to be right for me and right for the people who want me. We have to share the same ideas and I need to feel trust on both sides.”
“I have an open mind about whether I’ll be a manager or a coach next time. I’m hands-on and like being on the training field so, whichever it is, I’ll be in a tracksuit.”
The Star understands defender Aimen Belaid, who hasn’t featured under Neil Warnock, could be allowed to go out on loan.