Embarrassed boss Paul Warne accused his players of failing to ‘man up’ as he said sorry to fans in the wake of Rotherham United’s 5-0 drubbing at Cardiff City.
The Championship’s bottom club crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season in South Wales on Saturday and are now 15 points from safety with only 13 matches remaining.
“I’m not going to come out here and criticise my players. It’s not who I am,” the caretaker manager said. “But, collectively, not many of them manned up today.
“That’s disappointing because I don’t ever question the character of that group. They have done really well for me. But, today, it was men against boys, and that’s the honest truth.”
At the final whistle, Warne went straight to the travelling supporters, numbering around 200, to acknowledge them.
“It’s a four-hour drive for the Rotherham fans,” he said. “I walked over and clapped them and, in fairness to them, they didn’t throw anything at me. I appreciate their efforts.
“I’m embarrassed that the fans didn’t get much for their money today. To get ‘drummed’ like that is embarrassing for the club. The fans don’t deserve that and I apologise for it.”
Rotherham, up against former boss Neil Warnock, were without key men Danny Ward and Lee Frecklington (both injured) and Tom Adeyemi and Semi Ajayi (both ineligible to play against their parent club).
“From a small squad, the team I put out was the best I could do,” said Warne, who handed a debut to centre-half Joel Ekstrand. “I’ve no regrets in the team I picked. Some of the lads let themselves down.
“I’m not going to try to wrap it up as something it’s not. I’m not going to say we were really unlucky because we weren’t. They were significantly better than us. I’m hugely embarrassed to come in after a 5-0 defeat.”
The loss was the 16th in 17 away fixtures this season for the Millers who hit the road again next week for the visit to Brentford.
Warne spared his players the hair-dryer treatment after goals from Kadeem Harris, Junior Hoilett, Craig Noone and two from Kenneth Zohore had given him his worst day since taking the reins from Kenny Jackett in November.
“I’ve just gone in there and I haven’t ranted and raved at them,” he revealed. “I’ve just said to them: ‘Look, you’ve got to be honest with yourselves. If you want to knock on my door on Monday and tell me why you think it didn’t go right, tell me.’
“I’ve got no issue with that. I haven’t got an ego. My self-esteem is pretty good, but I don’t think I’ve got all the answers. I obviously haven’t because I’ve lost 5-0.
“I thought the lad up front for them (Zohore) was a handful all day, running in behind. He was too quick and too strong.”