The Yorkshireman has left the Millers after ‘lengthy and protracted’ discussions over the past fortnight failed to broker an agreement with the club following the end of his short-term deal.
Warnock’s impressive Great Escape act in saving Rotherham from relegation has yielded interest from several rival Championship clubs, including managerless Blackburn Rovers and he is understood to have spoken with the Ewood Park outfit about the vacant post.
While the 67-year-old revealed that leaving the Millers was a wrench, he admitted that a desire to be challenging towards the top of the table was a key factor in his decision to look for pastures new – even accounting for his depth of feelings towards a club who he played for in the 1970s.
Warnock, who quickly assumed hero status among Millers fans for staving off the drop in remarkable fashion after the club were six points adrift of safety at the end of February, said: “It was the right time to go, (and) time for a fresh challenge and leave Rotherham to someone who can get to grips with it as a long-term project.
“I have got nothing but praise for everyone at Rotherham, it has been a fantastic few months and probably my finest achievement in management.
“It is not the end for me as a manager. I have got a couple of irons in the fire.
“I have won seven promotions; no-one has ever won eight, so I would love to go out having got that eighth promotion.
“I want to be challenging at the top of the division, not fire-fighting.”
The Millers are now searching for their fourth permanent manager in just under eight months, with chairman Tony Stewart targeting an experienced and impassioned figure in the mould of Warnock and former chief Steve Evans as a replacement.
Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson have also left Rotherham along with Warnock.
A club statement said: “We would like to place on record our thanks to Neil and his support staff for the 16 games that they led the team at the end of the 2015-2016 campaign, and wish Neil, Kevin and Ronnie health and happiness for the future.
“We will be looking to release details of a new managerial appointment in due course.”