Gillingham v Rotherham United: Forget the title, promotion all that counts for Paul Warne

Rotherham United can win the League One title today but manager Paul Warne insists that fact will be shoved right to the back of his mind.

If the Millers win at Gillingham this afternoon and Wigan Athletic’s winless streak extends to six matches at Shrewsbury Town, the title will go to South Yorkshire on goal difference.

All Warne is concerned about is getting back into the Championship, which means matching the result Milton Keynes Dons get at Plymouth Argyle. All the games kick-off at 12.30pm.

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“It won’t come into my motivation and the fans will probably be disappointed with me saying that but it’s the truth,” says Warne of the title.

Paul Warne: Focusing only on promotion today – anything more will be a bonus. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“If we’d come into the game top, which we had an opportunity to do, it does add extra spice to it, knowing you’re virtually already promoted.

“If you’ve got a chance to win (the title), great, but it’s just about getting promoted and if we win on Saturday, the first thing I will do won’t be to run to someone and ask, ‘How did Wigan get on?’ I’ll just run to my players and the fans to congratulate them.

“If I don’t find out until four o’clock what happened elsewhere, it won’t bother me.

“It’s a great honour to be known as the best team in the league for the whole season but 90 per cent of the cake is promotion and 10 per cent is the cherry (of the title) and that can wait until four o’clock.

Michael Ihiekwe at full time of Sunderland FC v Rotherham United. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“I’m not really keen on cherries anyway so I’ll just take the low-calorie cake!”

With Covid creating such a hectic back half of the season for the second year running, Warne does not expect to be in a celebratory mood if his team gets the job done. If not, they must quickly turn their minds to a two-legged play-off semi-final against the team finishing sixth for the right to play in the Wembley final.

“I think it will be relief,” said Warne, when asked how he expected to feel if promotion is secured. “I don’t have many other emotions. I got told off by my old goalie coach, who said I don’t show any promotion emotions.

“In the same way if we had stayed up against Cardiff (City, in the final match of last season’s Championship) I wouldn’t be running around with my pants on my head.

“We’ve had to have a meeting with the staff about if the result doesn’t go our way, how will next week look regarding training and I assume that conversation’s happening in six, seven or eight different clubs this week.

“I’ll have Bank Holiday Monday off, and that’s it. Tuesday I’ll be back at it.

“I’d like to go away with the team but that’s probably going to be a massive issue this year. We would need to celebrate it. In years gone by we’ve gone on a post-season camp.”

Gillingham need the points too as they are in a straight fight with Fleetwood Town to avoid avoiding joining Crewe Alexandra and almost certainly Doncaster Rovers and AFC Wimbledon in League Two next season.

“I hope we can go up and Gillingham stay up because it’s a little bit uncomfortable enjoying a promotion in someone’s back yard,” said Warne.