Rotherham United: They’re back! Boss Warne sets Millers league target on eve of pre-season

Paul Warne
Paul Warne

Boss Paul Warne has set his sights on a top-10 place in his first full season in charge of Rotherham United as his players prepare to return from their summer break.

The Millers are back in training tomorrow and Warne believes his squad - after four new signings, with more to come - are capable of cementing a place in the higher reaches of League One when the action starts in August.

Paul Warne in his playing days

Paul Warne in his playing days

“I’d like to think we would finish top 10. That’s my personal goal,” he said. “I’m not sure I should say that out loud because if we’re then 12th I’ll have people throwing tomatoes at me.

“I honestly think if we finish top 10, we might finish first, we might finish 10th.”

After their relegation from the Championship last term, Rotherham have been boosted by the capture of striker David Ball, midfielders Darren Potter and Ryan Williams and centre-half Michael Ihiekwe.

Centre-forward Jamie Proctor should be another arrival by the end of the week, and another frontman and a right-back are on the manager’s wanted list.

Rotherham have been in talks with Ipswich Town about potential loan moves to South Yorkshire for young right-back Josh Emmanuel and targetman Kieffer Moore.

Warne, who took the hot-seat permanently in April after a spell in caretaker charge, said: “The good thing, this year, is I don’t think it’s damage-limitatation when we play games.

“I appreciate there are some really tough games in League One and this year the league is probably the best it’s been in years, 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.”

The former fitness coach, famed for his work ethic in his playing days, has told his players to expect the toughest pre-season of their careers .

He is planning three sessions a day, but the squad could be pleasantly surprised when they arrive at the club’s revamped Roundwood base tomorrow morning.

“If I can, I’ll have the balls out straightaway, which will please the lads and shock a few because I think they’re all expecting to turn up witjh oxygen masks,” Warne said.

“I’m going to test them mentally big time. I’m not saying I’m going to break them - they’re not joining the SAS - but mental toughness is a big part of sport.”

One of the drills he has lined up is “blind running” at the end of the day when his men will be put through a serious of runs without knowing how many repetitions they have to complete.

The idea is to replicate the last few minutes of matches when players are running low on energy but may be required to make one last effort to help the Millers’ cause.

Warne recalled the era of Ronnie Moore as Rotherham manager as he confessed pre-season was his favourite time of the year when he was a Millers player

“I loved it. It was probably the highlight for me,” he revealed. “The training I did off-season to be ready was harder than the pre-season I came into.

“I was telling (assistant manager and fellow ex-player) Richie Barker, I used to be obsessed not to let him or Al (Alan Lee) or Robbo (Rob Scott), Darren Byfield, whoever the case may be, beat me at anything.

“In my head, they were the enemy, but that used to get me throught it. We used to have a hill run on a Friday at the end of the last week when Ronnie was in charge - the ‘pylon’ run, where you had to go three times round.

“It was brutal. It was flat-out running. And you were in groups. The ‘elite’ went first. Me, Rob Scott, people like that. Up, round, up, round. It was horrendous.

“Ronnie would just sit in his Peugeot at the top of the slope and maybe toot his horn now and again. You used to run up thinking ‘what a guy!’.

“You had to do well to get your Saturday off. That run had no scientific benefit for football. But it was a character-builder. It was a hard one!”

Players on the way out