Paul Warne's Rotherham face an uphill task in League Oneby Mike Holden / 18 July 2017, 15:15Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Paul Warne and Rotherham ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.
Paul Warne was given a free pass as an abysmal Rotherham side were relegated with 33 defeats and 98 goals conceded last season. He was on a hiding to nothing when picking up the pieces after Kenny Jackett’s shock departure in late November, with the Millers already 11 points adrift at the bottom and looking like a lost cause. Now he gets an opportunity to rebuild. A dozen players have departed. Darren Potter, Jamie Proctor and David Ball are the most familiar names among eight new arrivals.
Warne is a reluctant leader who openly distanced himself from the permanent position throughout his time as caretaker, then gave a remarkably candid interview with the Football League Paper in March in which he described himself as "a fraudster". He is, however, extremely popular and charismatic, going about his daily routine with a real zest. Players have repeatedly spoken about how much they would like him to succeed, even though he has promised them the most gruelling pre-season programme of their lives.
"I’d like to think we’ll finish top ten. That’s my personal goal. I’m not sure I should say that out loud because if we end up 12th, I’ll have people throwing tomatoes at me. The good thing this year is that I don’t think it’s damage-limitation when we play games. I appreciate there’s some really tough games in League One but I don’t think there’s so much fear for us. I think we can go a lot more positive into games feeling we can compete and, obviously, win more games."
Given how tough the last three years have been, an inherent lack of purpose could initially be a problem for the Millers because the ultimate prize of promotion is arguably less enticing to them than other clubs. And with everybody still in the dark as to whether rookie Warne is up to scratch or not, there’s high potential for this to develop into another miserable campaign should he fail to impose himself quickly. His popularity at the club means he could be afforded a damaging level of patience.