All change at Doncaster Rovers: Paul Goodwin’s View

Doncaster Rovers logo
Doncaster Rovers logo

NOTHING ever surprises you in football - but the majority of Doncaster fans will be shocked and stunned this morning at the news of Sean O’Driscoll’s exit.

Aside from the 19-game sequence without a league win, there had been signs of late that all was not well behind the scenes.

O’Driscoll was not his usual self after the 2-0 defeat at Cardiff City a fortnight ago.

After keeping the assembled media waiting for an hour after the final whistle, O’Driscoll was almost lost for words during his radio and television interview.

He made the most untypical substitution of his entire five-year reign when he hauled off defender Richard Naylor at half time and replaced him with striker Milan Lalkovic - going all out for the win in Wales.

And he looked like a man whose world was about to end.

There were stories floating around that O’Driscoll had been inconsolable in the dressing room afterwards - allegedly sitting alone, staring into space, pondering his next move.

Indeed his next move was to drop Mustapha Dumbuya at Reading - one of the few players, in many people’s eyes, to do himself any sort of justice in Wales.

His post-match tone had notably changed, from defending his players to questioning his players.

He then changed his training methods at Cantley Park, introducing a competitive ‘win or lose’ element which defied his somewhat stubborn emphasis on performance rather than results.

From the outside looking in, he was a man who was perhaps running out of ideas.

But with Billy Sharp, Ryan Mason and Brian Stock all set to return to full fitness over the next few weeks, the timing of his departure is strange to say the least.

John Ryan announced publicly this week that Rovers weren’t about to go down the route of sacking their manager.

No other manager out there was better equipped than O’Driscoll, Ryan wrote in his Free Press column.

So the dramatic change of heart - and the speed of Dean Saunders’ recruitment - is the most shocking thing about the whole episode.

The truth about what has gone on will ultimately come out in the wash.

But like most fans, my reaction this morning was one of shock and upset - Rovers have lost a manager who was different to anything else out there.

He had a unique approach to the game, and he spoke about the game in a unique way.

He is the man who brought Championship football to Doncaster, almost single-handedly raised the club’s profile, and got them playing in a distinct and delightful fashion.

He’ll no doubt walk into another job at League One level, or higher.

Hopefully the board won’t live to regret their decision, and good luck to Dean Saunders - he has some big boots to fill.

*What are your thoughts on the events at Doncaster Rovers?

Tweet @paulgoodwinDFP, email paul.goodwin@doncastertoday.co.uk or write to Sportsdesk, Doncaster Free Press, Doncaster, DN1 1NB.