Rotherham United: Why Warne left Emmanuel out of Millers side
Paul Warne defended his decision to drop young defender Josh Emmanuel as the manager faced up to a second Rotherham United defeat in three days.
Emmanuel played in every match of the 14-match unbeaten run which lifted the Millers to fourth in the League One table but found himself out of favour after last Saturday’s 1-0 home loss against Rochdale.
Warne opted for the experience of Shaun Cummings against MK Dons last night but two goals were conceded down the 29-year-old’s flank in Rotherham’s 3-2 setback at the relegation contenders.
“It was just a choice by me,” Warne said. “Josh had played about 15 games on the spin. He’s 20 years old.
“I watched his performance at the weekend and watched the clips back with him and honestly believed he needed to come out of the team just so he can reset himself and go for the rest of the season.
“MK did cause us problems down that side of the pitch, with Shaun and Fordey (winger Anthony Forde). But I stand by that decision. It was the right decision at the time.”
Cummings hadn’t started for the first team since December 2.
Emmanuel didn’t even make the squad as Rotherham, who travel to Northampton Town on Saturday, took an early lead through Semi Ajayi in Buckinghamshire before being toppled by a side that hadn’t previously won in the league in 2018.
The Dons hit three unanswered goals until substitute Jon Taylor pulled one back for the visitors.
“I have no complaints about the result,” Warne said. “I have plenty of complaints about half an hour of our performance.
“We started the game really well and deserved to take the lead. Then, for whatever reason, we let them back in. Their top two (Chuk Aneke and Osman Sow) called all kinds of problems. They’re big, strong lads.
“It’s a disappointing result. We’ve lost the last two games by one goal to two teams fighting for their lives. It’s a not a crisis. We need to get back to winning as soon as possible.
“At 3-2, I honestly thought we’d get an equaliser. We had a bad spell in the first half that killed us. We have to address that as coaches.”
Rotherham remain fourth in the table, but Warne could make changes for the Northampton clash as he looks to cement his team’s place in the play-off shake-up. The Millers are eight points clear of seventh-placed Plymouth Argyle with 11 games of the regular remaining.
“Taylor came on and gave us a bit of energy,” the boss said. “Matt Palmer was good when he came on. He was calm on the ball and kept trying to play forward. He was trying to make the lads tick. There are positives for me to take from the performance.
Striker David Ball was also left out against the Dons, dropping to the bench to allow loan centre-forward Caolan Lavery to make his first start.
“The same 11 played through the majority of the unbeaten run,” Warne said. “Maybe a few of them are fatigued. That’s no excuse. I’ll take the criticism for the team selection. I tried to change it a little bit.”