AS two of the more studious members of Rotherham United’s legendary early Noughties side under Ronnie Moore, you can rest assured that Paul Warne and Nick Daws will not have left anything to chance ahead of their play-off reunion tomorrow.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and the pair have been slavishly busy doing their homework on each other’s sides ahead of tomorrow lunch-time’s first League One semi-final instalment when the Millers visit Scunthorpe United.
Uber-professional players back in the day, the pair went on to graduate in sports science and have now gravitated into management after starting out as fitness coaches – with each standing in the other’s way with Wembley on the horizon.
On Daws, who has impressed after taking interim charge of the Iron following the dismissal of Graham Alexander on March 24 after starting out as a fitness coach at the Millers in 2005, Warne said: “Dawsy is quite sensible like me.
“I met him for a coffee last summer before the season started and who would have thought I would still be in the job and he would be in the job at Scunny. Football is a strange game.
“I know that Dawsy will treat people right and I bet their dressing room is really happy with him and (Andy) Dawson in charge and I know him really well as I did my coaching badges with him. I reckon the dressing room will want to do well for him and he will be really organised and encourage the lads there to play with a bit of freedom.
“He likes cycling like me. He is not the most exciting character. I do not mean it rudely, but if we went on a night out it would probably be me and him sitting in the corner at the end of it, chewing the fat about something as opposed to my goalie coach climbing up a tree. We are probably quite similar personalities, I would suggest.
“We were saying about our set-pieces that he will have watched every single one of ours over the last five or six games. I know that because I know what he is like and we will have to think of something different. He will not leave a stone uncovered.
“I know that Dawsy did really good work at Barnsley and I remember Breck (John Breckin) telling me on numerous occasions how good he was as a coach. He has also got all his key players back and, fundamentally, you are only as good as your players.”
Whatever happens over the next 180 minutes of play-off football – or possibly longer – the respect they have for each other will not be compromised, according to Warne.
Even if he naturally wants to be the one smiling late on Wednesday evening after the second-leg in Rotherham.
But before that conclusion the pair will be the best of enemies in a professional sense.
Warne added: “If we win the first thing I will do is go over to him and, if we lose, then he goes with my absolute blessing that I hope he wins it. It is difficult to compete with friends. I remember years ago when I was at Yeovil and I had just left Oldham and Sean Gregan was the centre-half for them and I get on really well with him.
“The first ball came up and he kneed me straight in my back and he wiped me out. I remember turning around to him and saying, ‘what did you do that for?’ And he said, ‘Don’t speak to me until it is finished, mate – I cannot look at you’.
“During the 90 minutes you are competing with an enemy, but I cannot imagine me or Dawsy having a wrong word on the side of the pitch.”