PAUL WARNE is under no illusions that it will be a taxing season for Rotherham United for significant spells of 2018-19.
He is also crystal clear about another thing too, namely that he will not take the downs as personally as he did on the last occasion that the Millers found themselves in the Championship in an unforgiving 2016-17 campaign that was unquestionably brutal.
It was a time when United made history for all the wrong reasons; haemorrhaging goals and suffering defeats en route to a feeble relegation to the third tier.
Warne, handed the equivalent of a hospital pass when he took charge of a confidence-sapped and disunited squad of bruised players in the early winter of 2016, is the first to admit that events took their toll on him.
His sleep was affected and his appetite diminished leading to weight loss.
With the benefit of over a year and a half in the dugout, Warne is now more a secure and collected manager. The challenges will always persist and rage amid the pressure cooker of management, but the Millers’ chief is more philosophical these days.
The stakes will be high this evening as they compete against a Hull City side who have the potential to be in their mini-league of clubs scrapping feverishly to avoid relegation this season.
But consoled by the fact that the players now at his disposal are all individuals he can trust over the months ahead in terms of work ethic and character, Warne will sleep at night – mindful that his squad will give their all between now and May. Then what will be, will be.
Warne said: “I know the challenge of the league is probably tougher than the last time we were in it. But I have taken a whole different philosophy.
“People criticise managers at every club all of the time and I think I took it way too seriously before. I used to read everything and it used to kill me. It was really tough on me.
“Now I don’t. I think life and my football career is too short. I could be a manager for the next 10 years or 10 days, I just do not know.
“We have got the team back up here and we are going to fight and scrap like anything to have a really enjoyable season.
“I want the fans to turn up and think, ‘Warney has got these as well as he can and the coaching staff and lads are trying as hard as they can’.
“But I have gone past the beating myself up thing and I do not think it is worth it for my health. I see bad news around all the time and people struggling with their health and I think, ‘what I am doing to myself?’
“I can only work as hard as I can and the lads can and I am not going to take it as personally.”
Should the Millers – bookmakers favourites to be relegated – secure their aim of survival this season then resolute home form is likely to go an extremely long way towards achieving that target.
You have to go back to March 10 for the Millers’ last home reverse while it was much further back, in April 2017, that Warne suffered a midweek home league loss.
On the importance of home form, Warne, whose side host Millwall on Sunday, observed: “I was speaking to Chris (Hughton) at Brighton and when they stayed up he said the home form was crucial as it was for Huddersfield. All teams need to be solid at home and at least be in games.
“I want fans leaving here after games to think that, even if we have lost, their team have had a right go and they have really enjoyed our endeavours.
“There is a responsibility as the home team and it is a little bit like theatre and you are trying to entertain the crowd and win points. Away from home you can be ugly as sin.
“I love the night games here and they are my favourite games since I have been back at the club. It is a great little coliseum.”
Hull are still seeking to get their Championship up and running with their maiden three points of the season, but Warne is not reading too much into their early-season toils.
His sole focus is on his Millers side producing an assertive, in-your-face performance, the type of which served them so well en route to promotion last season.
Warne said: “All our home games are crucial and we have really got to try and take the game to them, better than we did against Ipswich, and really strive for the three points.
“In fairness, if Hull had won the last three games I would have wanted to take on Hull toe to toe and try and win the game.
“The fact that they have not may look like an easier game from an outsider’s point of view.
“But I do not think there is an easy game in this league as Leeds found out when they played against us on Saturday.
“I have watched their (Hull’s) three league performances and they have been more than competitive in every game, but people go by results, I understand that.”
Last six games: Rotherham WWLWWL Hull LDLDDL.
Referee: J Simpson (Lancashire).
Last time: Rotherham 2 Hull 0; December 19, 2015; Championship.