PREPARATIONS dutifully done and with a few butterflies in his stomach no doubt, Paul Warne likens taking sole charge of Rotherham United for the first time tomorrow to delivering a best man’s speech.
Best man is an appropriate term when it comes to Warne. Intelligent, sharp, engaging, professional, warm, dedicated; at times self-effacing. Knows the right time to be funny and the right time to be serious.
Individuals blessed with those qualities tend not to let their audience down when it comes to their big moment. Nor will Warne when he leads out the Millers at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium.
In terms of finding the best person to step into the breach at short notice following the sudden resignation of Kenny Jackett, the Millers’ hierarchy did not have to look far for the ideal candidate as interim boss when they enlisted the help of their hugely popular fitness coach, who joined the club’s coaching staff in May 2012.
Brought up in Norwich on the banks of the Wensum he may have been, but the 43-year-old’s footballing heart is by the Don in Rotherham following two playing spells at the club that spanned around nine years where his graft and honesty were both prized and wholly respected.
He will demand that same unstinting effort and commitment from his players tomorrow, which will be a special day for the Warne family – at their special club.
Warne said: “One of my opening gambits to a player (this week) was that if his level of efforts were not to what I expected, then I would enjoy substituting him after 20 minutes..
“There is no pressure on me as a manager here, I am just keeping the seat warm, the chairman said I can do it anyway I like and the (players) know that I am a fitness freak.
“I expect them to run around and play with pride. It means the world to me, my wife and kids are going (tomorrow).
“I do get emotional and it means a lot and it does to the players.
“They don’t want to go and see their families after always losing every week.”
On the qualities that he once prized in a manager and those which he believes players do now, Warne answered: “Being a good human being. That sounds a bit romantic, but that’s the truth.
“When I played, if I played for someone who was a good human being and a good football bloke, then I would run through walls for him.
“If I didn’t like him, it might just have been half a percent, but it makes a difference.
“I want someone who is straight-talking, honest, hardworking; someone who wants to play football in the way that I think Rotherham fans want to see.
“How I see football at this club is high tempo, athletic, ugly at times, possibly, but just the lads giving everything and I have always thought that at this club.”
The irony that those qualities which players crave from managers are wholly possessed by Warne is not lost upon him.
A qualified teacher with a degree in biology, Warne also possesses an innate knowledge of the DNA required in a successful Rotherham United player and what its fanbase demands.
Having only hung up his boots four and half years ago after a playing career from which he squeezed every last drop, Warne also has dressing-room savvy and is wise to the mindset of the modern-day footballer.
All those credentials would mark down Warne as a potentially strong candidate to pick up the pieces following the Millers’ torrid season, which is rapidly unravelling.
But he is canny enough to acknowledge that he does not want to be considered for the long-time position.
Some may say that is a shame, others would say it is shrewd.
His fastidious attention to the little details have already been shown.
An overnight stay tonight before the Burton game has been sanctioned to help build esprit de corps, while he has enlisted the help of injured utility player Greg Halford as a part-time analyst to keep him involved and draw upon his player input.
At the players’ request, lunch food has also been changed, while he is fully briefed on tomorrow’s opponents Burton – “I am watching Burton videos when I am asleep”.
The Christmas party has also got the green light – even players in a side at the bottom of the league deserve a morale-boost at this time of year surely. Especially.
Warne added: “If I don’t let them have a Christmas do, they will have one anyway. I am not Alex Ferguson, I don’t have people at every night club. They might as well do it with my endorsement.”
Sensible and sage, like most things with Warne.