Rotherham United manager latest: 'Light at the end of the tunnel' with appointment close but Wayne Carlisle wants to leave his mark

It is looking ever more likely Saturday’s game at Birmingham City will be Wayne Carlisle's last as caretaker manager of Rotherham United. With new managers often bringing in their own staff, and with his good friend Matt Taylor appointed as the new Bristol Rovers manager on Friday, it could be his Millers farewell.

If it is, Carlisle is determined to leave his mark and throw a few punches.

The 44-year-old expects the search for Taylor's replacement to conclude on Sunday or Monday, giving an already big game for the club extra significance for him.

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Carlisle let it be known from the start he wanted the full-time job, so the news is bad for him, but good for the club, he says.

FINAL GAME? Rotherham United caretaker manager Wayne CarlisleFINAL GAME? Rotherham United caretaker manager Wayne Carlisle
FINAL GAME? Rotherham United caretaker manager Wayne Carlisle

"The most important people at any football club is the players," he stresses. "The longer this process has gone on, the more uncertainty there is amongst them.

"On Friday morning (head of recruitment) Rob Scott spoke with the players and he outlined where the club were at without putting any names or anything forward.

"You can feel the players are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is brilliant for them."

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In his time in the job, the former midfielder has come across as honest and open, and he is unafraid to say he wants to leave his mark.

FALL GUYS: Rotherham United are a different team away from homeFALL GUYS: Rotherham United are a different team away from home
FALL GUYS: Rotherham United are a different team away from home

"It's very important," he says. "The results are one way to look at leaving a good impression and I've said to the players I want to win the game, just like any game I go into.

"I won't set up to draw, I may set up to stay in the game but ultimately I want to come out with a win.

"The biggest thing for me is my reputation. I want to walk away from this job, if that's what it's going to be, and the fans, the people at the club, the players eed back that we've gone about it in the most professional way in the circumstances."

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On Tuesday he boldly went with a 4-4-2 formation at Hull City and it backfired, the Tigers winning 4-1. But Carlisle wants to get into management and wants to be known as a positive thinker.

LAST AWAY VICTORY: Ben Wiles celebrates his winner on November 8, 2022LAST AWAY VICTORY: Ben Wiles celebrates his winner on November 8, 2022
LAST AWAY VICTORY: Ben Wiles celebrates his winner on November 8, 2022

"It was," he says when asked if his formation was meant as a sign of intent to his players.

"I don't mind telling you that the strategy was to stay in the game. We had two players up front but whenever we were under pressure, when we moved the ball forward we wanted more bodies up there to sustain that and get us up the pitch.

"Like any plan, it goes out of the window if you concede a goal inside the first five minutes, then another goal (after nine).

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"I'm not a defensive-minded coach. I want to go in and attack games but I understand sometimes you might have to set up to stay in the game and impact it a bit later on."

The problem for Carlisle and his successor is Rotherham are just awful away from home.

They have drawn with Ipswich Town and Leeds United in their last two home matches but their last away win was at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane in November 2022. They have only taken one Championship point on their travels this season.

As Taylor's assistant throughout his 13-month tenure, it is something Carlisle has been trying to crack for some time and he will give it one last go at St Andrew's.

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"We've tried to give the players plenty of recovery time between the Hull game and Saturday’s," he explains. "We broke the schedule up to break the routine up a little bit.

"I spoke with the players earlier and talked through what we may face and how myself and the coaching staff wanted to meet that.

"With the players I used the word 'quitting' but that sounds like totally giving up. I don't think the players ever totally give up, they always work their socks off but sometimes they maybe lose heart. Maybe they lose a bit of belief in themselves or the plan, they get distracted, they lose concentration and for me that's the same thing.

"We talked about being selfless for the team, not going into your own shell and rallying around each other to pull everyone through.

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"The players are excellent, they have those characteristics, it's just helping their belief in it and understanding when you do face that little bit of a challenge away from home whether it's the crowd, the size of the pitch, conceding a goal, that they can't just shut down and go into isolation in their own heads."

As for what happens after that, Carlisle will just have to wait and see. He said he would like to stay but whether he does, or whether he moves to the Memorial Ground if not, is out of his hands.

"Yes (I'd like to stay) if it fits in with where I see myself as a coach and if the new manager feels I can add value," he says. "But managers tend to bring staff. If a new manager doesn't see me as part of it then I totally understand and respect the situation."

These are uncertain times for Carlisle, who can be proud of having handled his temporary job with dignity and honesty. It would be wonderful if his players gave him the leaving present of a point or three.

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