Rotherham United: Barker becomes last piece of coaching jigsaw for Millers boss Warne

Richie Barker
Richie Barker

The arrival of former playing pal Richie Barker completes Rotherham United boss Paul Warne’s coaching line-up for next season’s assault on League One.

Barker’s long-heralded appointment as assistant manager was finally confirmed this afternoon, reuniting the pair who were Millers promotion heroes under Ronnie Moore in 2001.

The 41-year-old, who had been Karl Robinson’s right-hand man at MK Dons and Charlton Athletic, will be Warne’s No 2 and will also handle first-team coaching duties with Matt Hamshaw.

“I wanted to bring in an assistant manager to work with me and Hammy,” Warne, whose relegated side end their Championship campaign at home to Derby County on Sunday, told The Star.

“I don’t think a club our size can carry, really, a manager, an assistant manager, a first-team coach and another coach.

“If you have too many voices ... I’m not saying it dilutes the message but sometimes it complicates it. I think me and two coaches is how I want it.”

Richie Barker in his Millers playing days

Richie Barker in his Millers playing days

Warne also has another past teammate, goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt, on his staff.

Sheffield-born Barker has extensive experience of the lower leagues, having managed Bury, Crawley Town - shortly after the reign of ex-Millers boss Steve Evans - and Portsmouth before linking up with Robinson.

He was always the man Warne, named permanent boss last month, wanted beside him in the dugout next year. Rotherham made an official approach to Charlton last week for his services and the Addicks issued a statement shortly afterwards saying he would be leaving the Valley.

The Millers’ announcement about his return to South Yorkshire has been held up while contract details were being agreed.

Warne added: “It’s good that he’s come in for this last final week.

“I respect Richie and he’s done really well in his managerial career, but he sees his future in coaching, so he’s an ideal wingman for me.

“I’ve been harping onto the lads for a few weeks now letting them know that there will be a massive change in the summer and Richie will be a big part of that.”

Barker wrote his name in Rotherham folklore in 2002 when he came off the bench to head a last-minute winner in the Millers’ 2-1 second-tier derby victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

The striker began his career with the Owls and some of his Wednesday-supporting family were watching in the Kop end where he struck in the dying seconds.

He and Warne were good friends during their time at Rotherham and would train together on Christmas Day.

Like Warne, Barker was a hard-working striker. He made 170 appearances in two spells with the club, scoring 18 goals.

Warne is looking to appoint two new physios to cover the impending departures of Mike Preston and Denis Circuit and wants John Breckin - who has assisted him for the last five months, since he assumed caretaker and then full-time charge - to remain part of his backroom team.

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