Rotherham United players must listen to manager Paul Warne “talking rubbish” for one last time before mathematically sealing their place in the League One play-offs.
The Millers made virtually certain of their top-six slot by winning 1-0 through a 20th-minute Will Vaulks strike at Gillingham last night.
But the man who has masterminded their transformation after last term’s drop from the Championship says it will be business as usual until his high-flying squad have the chance to rubberstamp their berth in the end-of-season shootout, at home to Bristol Rovers this Saturday.
“The lads are determined to win football matches and are desperate to get into the play-offs,” he said. “We’ve been together for 10 months now and everybody wants it.
“We’ll just keep on top of the lads and go through the same process that we always go through. They’ll have to listen to me talking rubbish for 20 minutes on Thursday, then we’ll pick them up again for Saturday.
“Hopefully, if we get a win then, we must be getting close. We feel like we’re getting close. I’m not that naive to think otherwise. I’m not Carol Vorderman but I get how the league table works. However, until we’re actually in there, we have nothing to celebrate yet.”
With three matches left, Rotherham, who held leaders Wigan Athletic to a 0-0 draw at the DW Stadium last Saturday, are fourth in the table, eight points clear of the team just below them, Charlton Athletic.
They are nine ahead of the next two in the chasing pack, Scunthorpe United and Plymouth Argyle, although the Iron have one game in hand and the Pilgrims two.
Eighth-placed Portsmouth are 10 points adrift and can no longer catch the Millers while Peterborough United, in ninth, must triumph at automatic-promotion contenders Blackburn Rovers tomorrow evening to have even a sliver of hope of overhauling Warne’s men.
“Anybody who doesn’t live in my brain thinks we’ve done it,” the boss said. “I don’t.
“When I spoke to the Wigan manager after Saturday, I said: ‘You’re in an automatic place. You’ll definitely go up.’ He said: ‘No, but you’re definitely in the play-offs.’
“I said: ‘No’, because it’s the pessimism you have in you as a football manager. You always think of worst-case scenarios.”
Warne knows how near Rotherham are to achieving their aim, having said after the Wigan showdown: “I think if we could win on Tuesday that would be sufficient.”
He praised the display of his team at Priestfield Stadium where they created a succession of opportunities after the break following Vaulks’ sixth goal of the campaign.
“We deserved the lead at half-time and we had enough chances in the second half to reduce my heartrate by about 50 beats a minute,” he said.
“The lads performed really well away from home. It’s a difficult place to come to. I watched the Blackburn game (April 10) which finished 0-0 here and, to be fair, the Gills deserved to win that one.”