Paul Warne used a team meeting to inspire goal hero Jerry Yates’ emotional man-of-the-match performance in Rotherham United’s win over Norwich City.
The young striker made his first league start for the Millers and, despite the death of his grandad on the eve of the match, needed only seven minutes to bag the opener as the Championship’s bottom club stunned the Canaries 2-1.
Caretaker manager Warne singled out Yates when he called the players together in the build-up to the New York Stadium clash.
He revealed: “I said to him: ‘Look, I’ll embarrass you. I’ll speak to you now in front of the group. Everyone in this room thinks you’re good enough to play at this level.’”
Yates converted Tom Adeyemi’s right-wing cross early on and could have added to his total as he ran the visitors’ defence ragged before jumping into the crowd at the final whistle to tearfully embrace his mum and brother.
Warne knew the 20-year-old faced a tough task in a lone-striker role in the injury absence of leading scorer Danny Ward and was delighted how the product of the Millers’ youth system rose to the challenge against Swiss international centre-half Timm Klose and Norwich captain Russell Martin.
The interim boss said: “I just thought: ‘This is going to be one long, hard game for Jerry up front on his own.’ He was outstanding.
“I said to him: ‘Just go and enjoy yourself because there’s no pressure. You’re playing Klose, who I think is the best centre-half in the league.’
“We set them up to play ugly, to get the ball down the side of their centre-halves. When you’ve got willing runners like Jerry, and Tom (Adeyemi) backing him up, it’s always going to cause problems.”
Rotherham, who travel to leaders Newcastle United on Saturday, are hoping to conclude a loan deal for Leeds United midfielder Toumani Diagouraga, while Bristol City goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell is also on their radar as they look to make their first signings of the January transfer window.
Warne said after Saturday’s triumph: “My patience is running a bit thin. I am trying to be like The Wolf of Wall Street, but I am not bringing any players in. Until I do, people will say I am talking rubbish. I cannot do anymore than I am doing.”
O’Donnell, 28, who had a loan spell with the Millers in 2008 without ever playing a game for them, has made 11 appearances for the Championship Robins this season.