Manager Paul Warne held his players in the dressing room for an hour after the defeat at Charlton Athletic in a bid to put Rotherham United’s stuttering promotion push back on track.
The boss didn’t emerge to talk to reporters until 60 minutes after the 3-1 loss in London, having laid down the law to his squad who, after going 14 matches unbeaten, have now lost four of their last six games.
With six matches of the regular season left, the Millers remain in fourth place. However, other results on Easter Monday went against them and the chasing pack are closing in.
“It’s not my job to hammer the players in the press,” Warne said. “I don’t think that’s right. But I am allowed to say whatever I like in the changing room, which I have done.
“I’m trying to explain to them the importance of the next six games. I don’t want to waste a minute of my life and the lads shouldn’t want to waste a minute of their careers. Hopefully, they will still be part of something great this season, so I’m not getting too downbeat.
“But I need the lads to realise the enormity of every game, the enormity of every instant in every game. Defending a set-piece or attacking a set-piece or having your marker, whatever the case may be, if you’re going to be successful, those things are essential.
“I harp on all the times about winners doing more. Winners do do more. Charlton did more than us so they deserved to win.”
Rotherham, who had looked so impressive in Good Friday’s 1-1 draw with fellow play-off contenders Peterborough United, gifted Charlton, another team in the top-six frame, their opening two goals.
Right-back Josh Emmanuel headed a simple clearance straight to Michal Zyro who buried his 20-yard shot in the 28th minute , then Joe Aribo was allowed a free header in the Millers penalty area from a 54th-minute free-kick.
“The first goal is a shambles,” Warne said. “We don’t coach players to do that. I think the goal gave them confidence as the home side. I’ve lost loads of games this season - I’m still learning - but I haven’t often had the players in for more than half an hour telling them what I think. I definitely did that, to put a marker down with six games to go.
“But you don’t win football games in the dressing room, you win them on the grass. They have got to make the right decisions on the pitch. It’s our job as coaches to tell them where they’re going wrong but also to bring them back up.
“Fundamentally, you have got to be able to defend a wide free-kick. We did not do that. That made it 2-0, then we’re going for it and they counter-attack us for 3-0. It could have gone 4-0. I’m not trying to hide from that.
Aribo ran from the halfway line to scored his second goal of the afternoon before Richard Wood bundled home a consolation effort.
“That free-kick for the second goal is my biggest issue,” Warne said. “We just didn’t have enough desire to win it, which is something I don’t like to say about my team.”
Rotherham, five points clear of fifth-placed Posh and the Addicks in sixth, have a chance to put things right at home to resurgent Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
Warne allowed his players to have their say and was enouraged by their response to his home truths.
“We’re not going to lambast them all week,” he said. “We’ll pick them up and work a little bit harder.”
Meanwhile, the club have frozen some of their season-ticket prices for the sixth consecutive season. Fans can renew at the same price and supporters buying new tickets during the first phase of sales will benefit from no rise. Tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow.