Rotherham United caretaker manager Paul Warne said his players ‘gave me everything’ after leading the Millers to their first win in 16 outings.
Warne celebrated his first victory in caretaker charge after a blood and guts performance from his side, who deservedly took maximum points thanks to a first-half strike from Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown.
It could have been more for Warne’s Millers with Danny Ward crashing a shot against the bar, followed by a close range miss from the retuning Joe Newell.
But Warne was delighted with his side’s performance beaming with pride during another entertaining post match press conference
“You'd be surprised to know that it feels quite good,” Warne said.
“I think the lads gave me everything they had and I joked with them before hand, about not wanting them to be the guy that comes in and apologises for a mistake or not following a runner.
“I don't want an apology. I just want you to all come in and look me in the eye and if we've won, lost or drawn, I'll accept that. I think the lads gave me everything and they'll be exhausted come Tuesday, so I have to the problem of trying to get them recovered in time for that.
“I was proud of the way they played and it was obvious at the final whistle, the subs included, and the lads that didn't make the bench and the staff, you could see the joy. I think the players appreciate what we've done as a staff for them because we've come in at a hard time trying to pick them up.
“They're good players but they need a bit of love. I'm very proud of them and they're exhausted in there now, but so they should be, it's tough love.”
Warne restored Tunisian defender Aïmen Belaïd to the starting 11 for his first appearance of the season, and he played a huge role as the Millers claimed their first clean sheet since August.
The caretaker manager praised the returning Belaïd as well as goalkeeper Lewis Price who made several crucial saves.
“Everyone is really pleased,” he added.
“I was pleased for Belaïd and I thought the back five were outstanding. He hasn't played for about eight and half months and I've tried to keep him sane behind the scenes because I'm the fitness coach. He's a great pro and he deserved his chance and he was excellent. The back five were brilliant and they gave the rest of the team a platform to play.
“I just wish for my heart rate we could have got a second goal, but I'm over the moon with a win and a clean sheet because Pricey has been excellent. He's been Campy's number two all season and I don't know how mentally keepers do that, he has trained really well all the time.
“I've said it before; it's like a family here. All the staff care about the players and it's they're not commodities here. We're a good family club and I love working here and I think the fans appreciate it when the lads put a real shift in.
“If we would have conceded late on I think they would still have been applauded off because the fans appreciate effort and as a stand-in manager, that's all I want to see from my players.”
Ian Holloways’s side did threaten to spoil the party at AESSEAL New York Stadium late on but Warne admitted that he never felt like his side were in danger, on an afternoon when his defensive players excelled.
“I'm well aware of the run we've been on and how emotionally fragile the players might be and if they concede they might be thinking 'here we go again' but I just felt there was a bit more resilience about them today,” he continued.
“It sounds a bit arrogant but I didn't feel like we were going to concede.
“I felt like we were really strong and then right at the death I put Kelly on to make another centre half and they defended like men.”
The caretaker boss continued to add that he called on a battling display from his players in the pre-match briefing and he was happy that they delivered, yielding a value for money performance.
“I asked them to go out and play like warriors and make this feel like a fortress again and just be hard and ugly to play against,” Warne explained.
“I think if you paid your money today and watched our team and what they gave, you go home and think you've invested your money wisely.
“I just think they stood up and were men today and if you have the backbone of your team performing then the periphery follow.”