ROTHERHAM United’s manager Paul Warne is a qualified teacher with a degree in sports science, but he is starting to pay attention to history too.
Approaching quarter-term in his first full season as permanent Millers boss, Warne has received several ticks, although in terms of his side’s League One away form, it is case of ‘must do better’ regarding results.
Eighth-placed Millers are the top scorers in all four divisions on home soil, having plundered an eye-catching haul of 19 goals in six matches, which have incorporated five wins – but the numbers have not stacked up so neatly on their travels.
Just one victory has been accrued so far in five games, featuring four losses. Unfailingly honest, Warne acknowledges that his “cavalier” approach in away games has failed to pay off, with it now time to consider being more pragmatic “roundheads”.
On solving his side’s problematic away form, Warne – no doubt conscious that three of the Millers’ next four games are away from the AESSEAL New York Stadium, starting at Rochdale tomorrow – said: “It is the million dollar question.
“Apart from Blackburn, where in the first half we were really poor, I thought all the other performances were good. I do not think we are that far away, away from home.
“But maybe I need to knock down my gung-ho nature; possibly that is my fault.
“I might tweak the way we play in the middle of the park. It is a difficult one. Do I go a little bit more defensive and then have no power going forward, and then we are just hanging on for nil-nils and that is not really how I want to play.
“We need to address our away form; we will tweak how we prepare for the games, like our travel times and see if that gets a response from the lads.”
Speaking of being pragmatic, Warne is adopting exactly that strategy regarding the future of in-form striker and chief goalscoring threat Kieffer Moore, whose feats are resonating not just back at his parent club Ipswich Town, but at several other destinations too.
After a tough time in Suffolk, Moore is getting his career back on an upward trajectory in outstanding fashion during his season-long loan at the Millers, with the 25-year-old level pegging with Peterborough’s Jack Marriott and Portsmouth’s Brett Pitman in the League One scoring stakes with nine goals so far this term.
Moore was pipped by Pitman to the player-of-the-month accolade for September, despite plundering five goals in seven matches, having also been a nominee in August.
Warne admits that Moore’s accomplishments amount to a bit of a double-edged sword and is conscious that contingencies may have to be made with Ipswich having a recall clause in January – with the potential also for the East Anglians to cash in on their forward in the winter window, should they wish to do so.
With Warne stymied by the significant fact that forward Jamie Proctor is out until April at least, the Millers’ chief admits that he is busy hatching some back-up plans on the striker front if the worst-case scenario occurs.
On the situation with Moore, Warne – a nominee for the League One manager of the match accolade for September, which went to his ex-Millers team-mate and current Shrewsbury boss Paul Hurst – said: “Obviously, if we put all our eggs in the Kieffer Moore basket and something happens to him, we are snookered, aren’t we? We will look to earmark two strikers of similar ilk.
“That might be Kieffer plus one, because of Jamie’s injury. If Kieffer does leave – and I don’t think that will happen – we might have to bring two in.
“We have a list we are going through now; not to replace Kieffer but to strengthen up the top of the pitch. That is happening all the time.
“The fans can rest assured I will do everything I can to keep him. He’s a typical Rotherham No 9 in my opinion. However, he is gaining attention from everybody else, which is obvious. We’ll do our best to try to keep him. “
Attention at the other end of the pitch is likely to come into focus at Spotland tomorrow, with goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell handed his chance again with loanee Marek Rodak on international duty with Slovakia.
Former Bristol City goalkeeper O’Donnell, who had a patchy start to the season, had found himself demoted to the bench for league duties for the last month following Rodak’s arrival from Fulham, with Warne urging him to take his chance and give him a decision to make when the loanee returns next week.
Warne added: “In fairness, since Marek has come in, I have seen an improvement in Rich’s training. Probably with Pricey (Lewis Price) being injured and stuff, I don’t think Rich has seen any competition.
“Maybe Marek coming in will get an extra five per cent out of him. If he comes and does really well, he might keep the shirt.
“But he has to really step up and impress.”