Managerless Millers need a sesnational run to secure a fourth successive season of second-tier football after a punishing first half of the 2016-17 campaign, with the woes intensified by Saturday’s cruel 1-0 derby loss at Sheffield Wednesday.
The win, achieved thanks to a hugely controversial late penalty from Steven Fletcher – with Millers defender Richard Wood dismissed following his challenge on Lucas Joao – helped ensure that Wednesday start the festive programme on Boxing Day in a play-off place.
Fellow Yorkshire outfits Huddersfield Town and Leeds United, the latter also indebted to a late winner on Saturday like Wednesday, also find themselves in the top six at Christmas.
But it is a grim tale for the Millers.
The club’s board will review the club’s managerial situation today, with the prospect of Warne continuing to hold the fort on a temporary basis having been enhanced despite Saturday’s loss, with the spirited and disciplined Millers performance unlikely to have gone unnoticed.
Warne remains happy to continue in the role if required and, despite the club’s dire predicament, he still believes that the full-time post has plenty of merit for the right candidate.
Warne, who says the club plan to appeal against Wood’s red card, explained: “From my point of view, I think it’s an attractive option as I think it’s a great club.
“I love the club. I have been lucky enough to be offered jobs at other clubs and haven’t taken them.
“Realistically, I am not going to say we are the best prospect because of where we are in the league, but while you are still in it, you are still in it.
“If we were to win back to back games at Christmas and we went into the new year only seven or eight points off it, with a few signings in January, who knows?
“It is a great club and you get the support of the chairman.”
Controversy reigned on two counts after Saturday’s derby, with Millers players adamant that Wood never touched Joao when he went down in the box deep in stoppage-time.
But referee Tim Robinson showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot, with the West Sussex official – famously castigated for sending off Owls striker Fernando Forestieri for simulation in a televised game at Hull City in January – also at the centre of another potentially game-turning moment just before the break.
It came when he ruled out a close-range ‘goal’ from Tom Adeyemi for a perceived foul, with Warne admitting that proved a particularly tough decision to take.
Warne said: “I have watched it back numerous times and I cannot see where the foul is, I cannot even see where it might have been.
“If it was a foul I would say, but I just don’t know what the ref has seen.
“I asked the fourth official and he did not see anything.”
On the penalty, he added: “My honest opinion is it’s a penalty. There is contact from Woody on the player, (but) it is minimal.
“It was more a case of the player winning the penalty.
“Would I be happy if my striker did that in the 93rd minute to win the game? Yes I would.
“So I am not blaming the lad, that is just the way it is. You get contact in the box and you go down and get a penalty.
“But I don’t know how that is a sending-off. I thought the rules had changed with the double jeopardy (law) where you cannot concede a penalty and get sent off.”
Wednesday’s head coach Carlos Carvalhal said that he did not get a clear view of the penalty incident, but revealed that his players told him that they believed it was the correct decision.
The Portuguese did, however, profess relief that his side managed to get over the line for a second home victory in the space of five days.
Carvalhal said: “I was probably 70 metres away from the situation and I could not see clearly.
“I talked with the players involved in the situation and they don’t need to lie to me and I asked him and he said it was a clear penalty and Ross Wallace also was near and said it was a clear penalty.
“My players fought to the last second, which I like, and they had a very good attitude.”
Match report: Page 3