KENNY JACKETT’S ill-fated stint at Rotherham United lasted a mere 39 days, but there was still plenty of time for him to make a positive impression upon Paul Warne.
There may have been recriminations aplenty following Jackett’s shock resignation from the Millers’ managerial post last November with the ink having barely dried on his three-year deal, but current manager Warne – while being the first to admit that his departure was a big surprise – does not harbour any ill-will.
While tomorrow’s fixture at Fratton Park between Jackett’s Portsmouth and his former club may have an obvious sub-plot for the Sky Sports viewers following his abrupt resignation, there is plenty of respect between the rival managers.
This much is obvious from the pleasantries from both camps ahead of the game, with Jackett labelling Warne as “a terrific man”.
Graciously, Jackett also accepted the blame for his move to Rotherham not working out and said that he is happy to take “full responsibility” for what he felt to be a wrong decision on his part in heading to the Millers.
But even though Jackett’s spell in South Yorkshire was pretty much over before it had begun, his diligence left its mark upon Warne, another stickler for detail and organisation like his counterpart tomorrow.
On Jackett’s exit last winter, Warne – whose assistant Richie Barker returns to the club he formerly managed tomorrow – said: “I think everyone was shocked. I don’t think it was a decision that he took lightly. But things happen; certain players go to certain clubs and it works or doesn’t work.
“It doesn’t make them a bad player and it is the same with managers. I think Kenny is a really good manager and he is very experienced in this league, especially.
“I think his team will do really well this season. But I was surprised (when he left) obviously. I spoke to him in the car park on the Monday (after he resigned) and he was really good and we sent a couple of texts. I look forward to seeing him on Sunday.
“I really liked him. He was the first one in at the training ground every day and he was really diligent and his training sessions were really good and the lads always knew what they had to do and what he expected from them.
“He empowered all his staff and we all had an input on the players he wanted to see and look at. I think he made the staff feel valued, which was good and important to the club. I had a brilliant relationship with him and really liked him.
“So I think I learned a little more in terms of attention to detail possibly. I think he was more intense than previous regimes and I liked him.”
Following last weekend’s 2-0 home reverse to Charlton Athletic, Warne is likely to make changes tomorrow, with one forced upon him with summer recruit Jamie Proctor likely to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.
The former Bolton and Bradford forward ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament and underwent an operation yesterday, with Warne admitting that the gravity of the injury will hit home with the player later on this autumn.
Warne added: “I went to see him at the hospital on Saturday night and he was in a bit of shock, because it is a horrendous thing.
“Then I spoke to him on Sunday, thinking it might not have been as bad as he thought, but we all sort of knew it was.
“He had his scan on Tuesday and now he has been put out of his agony of not knowing. When you know, it puts finality to it.
“Once you know your season is done, you have a couple of hours of pure depression, which is fair enough.
“He has worked his socks off to get into shape and in form and this was a good chance for him to take his career in the right way, so I think he had some dark hours. I have seen him at the training ground and he seems upbeat. It is a massive blow for him and I think it will hit him in a couple of weeks when a couple of Saturdays have passed.”
Meanwhile, veteran defender Richard Wood is pushing for a recall after the Millers’ defensive frailties were exposed last weekend, with Warne admitting that he has a decision to make.
Warne has fitness concerns over the midfield duo of Lee Frecklington and Will Vaulks and left-back Joe Mattock, although forward Jerry Yates is available for the game at Fratton Park (2.30pm kick-off).
Last six games: Portsmouth WLLDDD; Rotherham WWDLLL.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).
Last time: Portsmouth 3 Rotherham 2, April 27, 2003; Division One.