ROTHERHAM United boss Paul Warne was proud of his side’s efforts at the Eithad Stadium despite a sobering defeat at the hands of current Premier League champions, Manchester City this afternoon.
The Millers found themselves behind early on when Raheem Sterling calmly stroked home, but they gradually got their foothold in the clash by more than matching their illustrious opponents for large spells of the first period.
However, Rotherham’s hopes of an upset were as good as over by the interval when Phil Foden’s fortuitously doubled City’s lead before Semi Ajayi inavertedly diverted the ball into his own net soon after.
Pep Guardiola’s side kept their foot on the pedal in the second period, and further strikes from Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and sub Leroy Sane left the Millers on the receiving end of a heavy defeat, as they bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup at the third round stage.
Speaking to the assembled media afterwards, Warne admitted that his side struggled to get to grips with the pace and intensity of City’s game for large parts of the clash.
“I think we came across a good Manchester City side, who thoroughly deserved the win,” Warne stated.
“I couldn’t ask for much more from my lads, but the gulf in class was there for all to see. I hope the lads learn from this experience and use it for the remainder of the season.
“It was a joy to bring my side here and I hope they can learn from how good Man City were, in terms of how they play and what they do when they lose the ball."
Despite the nature of the score line at the Eithad, Warne felt his side had their best spell of the clash just prior to the internal, although he conceded that City’s second and third goals soon after, gave the Millers a proverbial mountain to climb at the break.
“After 1-0, we had a good few passages of the game,” Warne added.
“If we get in a 1-0, I’d have been really pleased but two quick goals killed the game. At half-time, it was more damage limitation for us.”
Speaking afterwards, Warne was quick to single out the contribution of youngster Ben Wiles who belied his tender years, by continuing to make his mark on the game despite coming up against the likes of Kevin De Bruyne in City’s midfield.
“I thought Ben Wiles was great in midfield. It was just his third game. He did not show them too much respect. I’m really pleased with him.
“We are not embarrassed by the score line. I spoke to Pep (Guardiola) before and after the game and I shook his hand and appreciated the respect he showed our team by putting a strong team out.
Following the final whistle, Warne took time out to acclaim the large Millers travelling contingent, who made the trip over the Pennines and continued to support their side in trying circumstances - which was a point not lost on the Rotherham chief.
“The support was hugely impressive,” Warne enthused.
“I felt I let them down a little bit as they did not have a lot to shout about. I wish we could have got a goal. They stayed with the team. They appreciated what our lads tried to do against world-class players.”