by Chris Dunlavy
NEW Rotherham United manager Neil Warnock says he came out of retirement to “give something back” to a club he has always loved.
The 67-year-old, who has won seven promotions in his 36-year managerial career, replaced Neil Redfearn on Friday and has been tasked with extending the Millers’ two-year stay in the Championship.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Rotherham and seeing them finally reach the Championship… I just thought it would be nice to try and keep them there,” said Warnock, who has signed a 12-week deal.
“I played here for two years in the late 60s. The floodlights of the old Millmoor are still visible from this ground.
“It was a right ramshackle old place but it had a great atmosphere. Fans on top of you, a right racket. I had two good seasons in the old Third Division and I enjoyed every second of them.
“I remember when I was manager of Sheffield United, I lent them a couple of players when they were in administration. We didn’t charge them anything.
“And I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with the fans here. I came up a few weeks ago. They invited me when QPR played. The hospitality was great, the welcome really warm. After all that, I just wanted to give something back.”
Having swerved relegation on the penultimate day last season, the 2013-14 League One play-off winners have struggled to build on that progress this term.
Twentieth when manager Steve Evans left in September, Redfearn won just five of his 21 matches in charge and was sacked with the Millers third from bottom. And with the window now closed, Warnock admits he faces a tough task.
“I just said I’d give it my best shot for 12 weeks and if that’s good enough, great,” he added. “If it isn’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.
“It’s going to be tricky. If you look at our next seven fixtures, they’re all teams in the top eight of the league. We all know it’ll be touch and go. But it’s about attitude now – the will to do a bit more than you have so far. I’m afraid you have to hurt a bit to get success in this league.
“Every manager has got their own ways. For me, it’s about finding a system that suits the players. I’m not one of these managers who comes in with fixed ideas and says ‘This is how you’re playing’. I see what I’ve got and work out a way to use it.
“More than anything else, I want the players to stop worrying and just enjoy it. I want to see crosses and shots and goalmouth incidents. I want to see fans going home knowing they’ve seen a good contest. That’s all I’m asking for – just give your all.”
After a stint in the top-flight with Palace, Warnock, who will be assisted by old pal Kevin Blackwell, says he is happy to be back in the division he won with QPR in 2011.
“I do love the Championship,” he added. “It’s my league, really. Yes, I’d like to be going for promotion and playing in play-offs. That’s always what I’ve enjoyed most. But doing a job like this, spending 12 weeks trying to rescue a club, it just appeals to me.”
*This article was originally published in The FLP on 14 February 2016.