Rotherham United: Wins, workrate and Paul Warne T-shirts ... Millers 2 Scunthorpe United 0
They're selling fast ...
T-shirts bearing a picture of Rotherham United’s manager and the slogan, ‘Just a fitness coach’.
That’s how many, including the man himself, viewed the Millers boss last term when he was thrust, reluctantly, into the hot-seat.
His side are fourth in the table, have won seven of their last nine League One matches and have triumphed in six of their seven league encounters at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
An enterprising Millers fan has had the town’s hottest fashion item made and they’re selling at £12 a pop.
Paul - “Every pound is a prisoner” - Warne hasn’t bought one yet. But plenty of supporters who love what they’re seeing this season are shelling out.
“I am aware of them,” the boss grinned. “I’m not sure that’s a good picture of me! I don’t know why I let my beard get so long.
“I’m happy they’re selling, but I’d rather be seen in a more attractive light. Fans are pretty funny. I like the humour. If it makes them happy, then great.”
Seeing off a strong Scunthorpe United outfit that made the play-offs last May was a third successive Rotherham win in the league, all of which have come with clean sheets.
Imagine how well they might be doing if they had a real manager.
After approximately 793 attempts, it finally happened for Will Vaulks.
The midfielder scored a long-range wonder-goal on his debut against Wolves in August 2016 but had to wait until Saturday before breaking the back of the net again in similar fashion.
It’s not been for the want of trying. Some shots have brought great saves, some have whistled just wide, some have found row Z and around 700 of them have crashed into an opposition body.
Against Scunthorpe, he was fed the ball after a two-man corner routine and his aim from 25 yards was thrillingly straight and true as his thunderbolt put the Millers into a 36th-minute lead.
He celebrated with a somersault, and afterwards Warne was doing cartwheels about the contribution of assistant manager Richie Barker.
“We worked on that corner routine on Friday,” revealed Just a Fitness Coach. “Richie has been ‘ledg’. He watches a lot of footage and saw that as a weakness in them, the way they don’t mark the edge of the box.
“When Will did it in training, I was in goal. We said: ‘Take two touches and hammer it.’ To be fair, we’ve done the hard bit. All he’s got to do is hit it in an area the size of a postage stamp from around 30 yards. That’s the easy bit!”
Warne recognised the importance of the strike in a hard-fought contest against arguably the best side to visit New York this season.
“The first goal was a massive goal for us,” he said. “They could have scored first and the game could have taken a different tilt. I don’t leave the ground thinking we are significantly better than Scunthorpe.”
There have been five-goal home demolitions and there have been backs-to-the-wall away triumphs where Warne’s men have held firm in horrible conditions, but this victory carried more weight than any that have gone before.
Two very good sides tested each other and Rotherham came out on top.
It was a win built on slick, quick play in attack, defiance in defence and all-out effort everywhere.
Will’s power lit up a first half where Richard Wood, Joe Mattock, Michael Ihiekwe and Anthony Forde had chances for the home side and Richard O’Donnell saved from Padden Madden, twice, and Josh Morris.
Scunthorpe hit the woodwork as they pressed after the break, but Rotherham were threatening a second goal. It arrived in the 71st minute when summer signing David Ball, making only his second league start, did brilliantly down the left to set up a tap-in for Kieffer Moore.
“Of all the home wins we’ve had, this is the most satisfying,” Warne said. “We’ve played some good teams here, but I think that’s the best team we’ve played.”
Moore’s simple finish settled the contest and the stadium was in full voice as the Millers saw out the game.
The striker became the first marksman in the Football League to hit double figures. 10 in total, nine at home. Him scoring at New York has become a wonderfully familiar sight.
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
Last week it was Ryan Williams chasing back more than half the length of the pitch to ensure victory at Rochdale.
This time it was Anthony Forde epitomising Rotherham’s desire with a shift of unstinting toil until he had to come off, utterly spent, in the 82nd minute.
“You can see Forde, when Scunthorpe clear it, literally flat out for 60 metres at times,” said Warne. “It’s really impressive on a continuous basis.
“You have to have the mind-set to really want to do that. The fact he wants to put himself though that amount of pain for the benefit of his teammates is testament to him. That’s the sort of group we have.”
Rotherham were without three first-choice midfielders in the injury absences of Darren Potter, Lee Frecklington and Jon Taylor.
Vaulks responded by being the game’s most conspicuous performer. There were goal-saving blocks by Richie Towell, Richard Wood and Joe Mattock. Every player stood up to the challenge.
Warne and centre-half Wood, who led by example again, shared a Wrecking Ball of a hug at the end.
“Whatever team we put out, and we’re licking our wounds a little bit at the moment, they will give everything,” the boss said. “I hope the fans can see that. They won’t win every game, obviously, but they’ll give everything.”
Fans in ‘fitness coach’ T-shirts. Players wearing the jersey with pride.