Rotherham United manager Paul Warne spoke to the local media on Tuesday, after his side won automatic promotion to the Sky Bet Championship over the weekend.
The Millers secured an immediate return to the second tier with a 2-0 victory over Gillingham, with Warne’s team finishing runners-up in Sky Bet League One, in a historic campaign which also saw Rotherham lift the Papa Johns Trophy at Wembley.
The manager spoke of the celebrations that ensued following full time, his reflections on the season and a look ahead to planning for life next season.
Warne on the feeling of promotion…
“It feels great, the weight of the world is off our shoulders and it is great to be able to sit here and look forward to the trophy parade.
“I’m really pleased for the lads after an amazing season. I still look back to that 95th minute goal we conceded against Wigan and think ‘could we have won the title?’ but then you’ll drive yourself mad thinking about little games like that.
“I’m absolutely proud as punch of the lads.”
Warne on the ‘relief’ of getting over the line…
“It’s my job to come out and positively spin bad news at times and keep people upbeat and over the course of 10 months, it gets exhausting.
“That photo of me sitting in the tunnel with my head in my hands, that is what it’s like being a manager.
“I’m not overly celebratory, it is all about the players and as staff you are joyful and relieved that the lads have made a memory no one can ever take off them.”
Warne on the celebrations…
“I’m quite emotional all the time, but this time I didn’t have any release of emotion at all really.
“I had a great bus journey home with the lads. They started off by having that crazy drunk phase, where they were signing like lunatics and then they went through the ‘chatty phase’, where they forget who they were talking to!
“I really enjoyed that bus journey back, because a lot of the time you don’t get four hours with the lads following success, you’re either straight back to the hotel at Wembley or shooting off after a home game.
“We went out with all the lads on Saturday night and then with our wives on Sunday. I went to Slug and Lettuce in Sheffield, had an amazing time and a dance.
“I told my mum this story because I left when it was light, but it was seven in the evening, not the morning, I’m not that giddy!
“They were playing dance music from the 90’s, a favourite of mine and my wife! As you know, a pint of confidence and then you can start dancing, I had a great time.
“Like I said, it was just relief for me after the game, it wasn’t emotional at all, which is strange for me.”
Warne on the contrasting fortunes of the final day at Cardiff compared to Gillingham…
“There is symmetry, I knew it was going to be a random game and until we got a second goal, anything could happen.
“I had the ‘Doom Master’ Andy Warrington telling me how great MK Dons were doing. We said to the lads at half time “MK have won, a draw will not be good enough.”
The fact we got the second goal and Georgie came on and scored, was surreal. I know it’s a Disney thing to say, but it hasn’t sunk in, it was such a joyful end to an amazing season.”
Warne on his reflections of winning the Papa Johns Trophy and promotion…
“I’d reflect with unbelievable pride for what the lads have done. I can’t thank them enough, we’ll be glued as friends for the rest of our lives.
“The relationships we have with our players is pretty unique, we have the upmost respect for the players, as they do us.
“The fact we went to the Papa Johns Trophy final and still got promoted is really unique. It takes a lot out of you – nervous energy as much as anything.
“The fact the lads still won that, had a little wobble but came back to gain promotion is testament to everyone here.
“Every member of staff has played a part in that and I can’t thank them enough.”
Warne on approaching next season in the Sky Bet Championship…
“I think we have to deal with the punches as they come. Will we lose a couple? Maybe. Will we have to recruit others? Yes.
“This is fundamental to every football club, every year. We have many players this year who have a year left on their contract, but if the value isn’t right, we won’t sell.
“We need to recruit up to nine players, who are better than the ones we have. I go into the summer with a beam of optimism and hope new characters will bring new joy to the team.
“We’ll attack the league like we always have. I think we get everything out of the team and we’ll do that again next year.”
Warne on contract talks with players…
“Nothing is close. I’ve got options on loads of players and I’ll be speaking to them next week. I’ve got all summer to renegotiate with other players.
“If bids come in, we’ll deal with them. I could give a player a 10 year contract, but if a silly bid comes in the next day, they are off.
“We’ll let the dust settle for a weeks and go through each conversation as it comes.”