PAUL WARNE is still waiting for his first delectable derby-day league memory as Rotherham United manager.
Pride of place in the derby stakes in Warne’s playing days as a ‘Miller’ unquestionably belongs to those two unforgettable wins in the space of six months at Sheffield Wednesday during the club’s glory era under Ronnie Moore in 2002, thanks to last-gasp goals from Darren Garner and Warne’s assistant Richie Barker.
Other fond memories duly arrived during Warne’s spell working as part of the club’s backroom team under first Steve Evans and then Neil Warnock, with famous victories arriving against the likes of Leeds United, Bradford City and the two Sheffield clubs.
The flip side arrived last term. United played eight Yorkshire league derbies and lost the lot.
The pedants may venture that Rotherham did win a competiitve derby under Warne earlier this week, courtesy of a 3-0 Checkatrade Trophy win at Valley Parade, but for the Millers chief, it is very much a side-dish to the main menu of this lunchtime’s meeting with Doncaster Rovers.
With his family home in Tickhill near Doncaster, Warne has a bit of an extra incentive today. Although his chief concern is his Millers side reaquainting themselves with the wins column in the league after taking a disappointing two points from a possible nine in their last three outings.
On the subject of derbies, Warne, whose side find themselves just outside the top six of League One after jumping up to fourth following their last league win – a 2-0 success over Scunthorpe United on October 14 – said: “There were the Sheffield Wednesday ones and Leeds and Barnsley (last season) and they were tough games.
“It would be nice (to win at Doncaster), although in fairness, it would just be nice to get back to winning ways. But if we could win away at Donny, I would be well chuffed as we need to get the points rolling back on.
“I want to build on what we have done so far and not go the other way. If we could win at Donny – happy days. I could walk around the village with pride on Sunday with my Rothers shirt on!
“It is always nice to play in a derby. I know it is on telly and an early kick-off and it sets you up for a great weekend if the lads can perform.”
I want to build on what we have done so far and not go the other way. If we could win at Donny – happy days. I could walk around the village with pride on Sunday with my Rothers shirt on!Paul Warne
For two of Warne predecessors in Evans and Warnock, derby day – or derby week in reality – turned into something akin to a threatrical event where both aimed to pile on the pressure through the media on rival sides – earning a fair bit of success down that route – while keeping the heat away from their own players.
Warne is a touch more circumspect in his approach, although if the Millers do break their derby league duck under him today, he is likely to fully share in the moment with supporters – just as Evans and Warnock also did.
On the pair’s derby knack, Warne added: “They were managing teams who won all the time, to be fair.
“Steve’s team won most of the time and Neil’s did initially. And Ronnie’s did all the time, apart from the last few seasons.
“I think it is just coincidental – if you are a manager and win 80 per cent of your games, some of them are going to be local derbies.
“I do not think they were doing anything special. Neil was hilarious when we played at Sheffield Wednesday.
“He could not wait for the game and it was like Christmas morning for him.
“Whether that relaxed the lads or not, I don’t honestly know. I will not try and build it up to the lads that it is any more than what it is as they have just got to try and focus on the game.
“When they turn up on the day and it is a good following and the TV cameras are here and it is obviously a different time for the kick-off, it will definitely have a different feel to any other game.”
After watching his side ship three goals in each of their past three league matches, Warne’s concerns surrounding his side’s defending are also prevalent.
To that end, Warne, who has selection issues in goal and on the left-hand side of defence, believes cutting out individual errors and displaying greater concentration at key junctures of games will be paramount in resolving the problem.
He added: “I just think we get punished a little bit for individual errors.
“It is not like I am standing there in games like I was last season and thinking, ‘Oh my god we are getting ripped apart’, it never feels like that. It just feels like we have three shots on goal against us and concede two, which is hugely disappointed.
“We need to stop conceding goals, it is obvious, even my son can tell me that. If we can tighten up at the back, we can be a force.
“Unfortunately at the minute we are being punished for mistakes.”