Rotherham United Manager Paul Warne was on iFollow Millers press duty ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime meeting with Ipswich Town at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers host the Tractor Boys knowing a win would take them back into the automatic promotion places, ahead of MK Dons’ game with Sheffield Wednesday later in the day.
Ahead of the game, Warne discussed the possibility of laying down an early marker before the Dons face the Owls, as well as giving an update on the fitness of Ben Wiles and Jordi Osei-Tutu.
Warne on Portsmouth result…
“I don’t think we were as good as we could have been at crucial moments in the game and we weren’t good enough in both boxes.
“I thought we started the game well but conceded a sloppy goal from a set-piece and then the game took a different path in the second half.
“We set out to win like we always do, I can’t knock the lads’ effort, but unfortunately, a few had an off day.”
Warne on whether he’d taken this position at the start of the season…
“The elephant in the room is that if you’d have asked me six weeks ago if I’d have been happy with this position I’d have said no.
“We weren’t to know that we’d go on the run we have. I don’t think there was a lot wrong with the Charlton performance but there was more wrong with the Portsmouth one.
“In the same way, we’ve won games by narrow margins and now we’re on the other side of that. If you’d have offered a lot of teams our position, they’d take it.
“It’s just disappointing because of the position we were in, but we know football is never easy. We’ve got five games left and we’ve just got to go out and give it a go.
Warne on trying to rediscover the team’s ‘best’ form…
“When we were promoted in my first spell, we lost 14 games that season. The lads have had an amazing season.
“Prior to Tuesday night, we’d had seven clean sheets in a row away from home. Results haven’t been great recently, I understand that but it’s still a great group.
“We’re disappointed that our performance didn’t deserve something on Tuesday night and the lads are desperate to put it right.
“I don’t think we’ve been as sharp up top as we possibly were at the start of the season. We’ve shown that we can do it, we just need to get back to that.
“In a lot of games, there isn’t much in it. Hopefully on Saturday it will go our way and give the place a bit of a lift.”
Warne on the strength of the league and how well the team have done be in contention for automatic promotion…
“I understand frustrations that the position we were in looked really healthy and as coaching staff and players, we echo them.
“I can see why people are nervous, because they want this team to go down in the history books. The league is probably the hardest I’ve ever known it and there’s a lot of teams at the top who are winning regularly.
“If our points tally come the end of the season is enough to get us in the automatics, then they’ve done amazing.
“If we do end up in the Play-offs, then we will have to pick ourselves up and try to perform in them. That’s all we can do.”
Warne on Jordi Osei-Tutu…
“He had a scan yesterday, which showed he doesn’t have a break, which is great news. We’re hopeful he will be available for the weekend but we’ll know more when he’s in the building.
“It’s the best news we could have had, but we need to see how his body reacts to his injury.”
Warne on Ben Wiles…
“He took a knock on Saturday, his knee had swollen up. They took some blood off it on Monday because he wanted to play.
“Unfortunately he took another knock on it and it stiffened up, he stuck his hand up and said he was struggling, so we had to pull him off.
“We’re hopeful again that’ll be okay for the weekend.”
Warne on other team news…
“We’ve got no other dramas. We got back early Wednesday morning so they were tired, but we’ll see how they are today.
“The physios didn’t speak to me straight after the game or raise anything, so I don’t expect any more dramas.”
Warne on whether there’s a physiological advantage playing before MK Dons…
“Only if we win. First of all, we want to win for the group, the fans and the whole club. I’m aware that when someone is breathing down your neck, you can feel it.
“So if we were win and go into second, it obviously applies pressure but they are a good team and well managed.
“It is an advantage if you win, no disputing that, but if we don’t win, it can give them a boost too.”
Warne on Ipswich Town…
“It’s a different Ipswich side of course, a couple of managers I’ve spoken too said that they are the best team they’ve played in recent weeks.
“We beat them away before and we were really good, but they’ve got great players and are now performing like the side everyone expected in pre-season.
“It is a difficult game for us, because they are a strong side, hopefully we can attack it in the right way and give ourselves the best possible chance of winning.”