Neil Warnock believes the Premier League big guns heading for the Championship will make it virtually impossible for him to achieve his one remaining ambition with Rotherham United.
The veteran boss harbours a desire to win a record-breaking eighth promotion, which would see him move clear of the seven also achieved by Graham Taylor and Dave Bassett.
But, with Aston Villa relegated from the top flight and Sunderland and Newcastle possibly joining them, the man who has led Rotherham to Championship survival reckons the Millers simply can’t compete at the top end of the table.
“When you look at the teams coming down, it’s going to be about staying up again, unless something magical happens and we get three or four players in, they all fit in really well and they star,” he said.
“We will give everybody a game, that’s for certain. But you look the wage bill at Newcastle or Sunderland or Villa ... Villa said they were going to have to get rid of 60 staff at the training ground. We’d have to close the place down if we got rid of 60!
“There are some big clubs coming down.”
The 67-year-old is contemplating spending what he says will be his final year in management with the Millers after guiding them to second-tier safety with an 11-match unbeaten run which came to an end with Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
However, the promotion dream is occupying his mind as he comes to a decision he expects to announce within the next fortnight.
“If I stayed here, that would be the thing I have to give up,” he said. “I don’t think it’s possible with Rotherham.”
Chairman Tony Stewart has Premier League ambitions for the club he rescued from administration eight years ago, but the man he turned to in the Millers’ Championship hour of need in February reckons second-tier consolidation has to come first.
“I am probably three years too soon,” said Warnock whose short-term contract expires after next Saturday’s last-day clash at Hull City.
“I think they could build next year. The main thing is staying in the league, getting the income, making the training ground better and then look for the following season. I think it’s a three-year project.
“I’m not saying I am not going to be here because I do enjoy it. I am talking about it to the chairman, but it is going to be a different challenge for me.”
Some people point to Premier League Bournemouth as an example of what a smaller club can achieve, but Warnock pointed out: “The thing about them is that their chairman spent £45 million - that does help! I don’t think this club should be spending stupid money.”
Meanwhile, Millers midfielder and Blackburn old boy Matt Derbyshire has revealed how much the standing ovation he received from both sets of supporters meant to him when he was substituted in the second half against Rovers.
“It was lovely. You don’t see that too often,” he said. “I had a great time at Blackburn and I still live in Blackburn now.
“For various reasons, I left the club. I wanted to play football. Anywhere where I have gone and I haven’t played much football, I’ve always moved on quite quickly, because I’m in the game to play football. I’ll always love the club. I’m a Blackburn fan.
“It was fantastic from both sets of fans. I appreciate it from the Rovers supporters and the home fans as well. They’ve been great all season.”
Blackburn boss Paul Lambert thought his side could have won by four goals, but Derbyshire responded: “He thought they were comfortable winners? No, I don’t agree with that.
“I thought it was a good game of football. We conceded from a set-piece early on. I don’t think we deserved to lose.
Rotherham lost for the first time since February 23rd as Shane Duffy scored with a free header from a corner in the sixth minute.
“I think it’s the first time since the gaffer has been here that we’ve conceded from a set-piece,” Derbyshire said.
“At half-time, the gaffer’s rollicked him (centre-half Richard Wood)for not staying with him.
“We want to try to win every single game, or at least get something out of the game. We didn’t deserve to lose this one.”