James Coppinger questions team spirit at Doncaster Rovers

Rovers' James Coppinger has a volley on goal. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' James Coppinger has a volley on goal. Picture: Andrew Roe

DONCASTER Rovers’ longest serving player James Coppinger has had his say on one of the most turbulent seasons in the club’s history.

The 31-year-old midfielder spoke to the press immediately after Saturday’s 4-3 defeat to Portsmouth condemned Doncaster to the drop.

Coppinger was asked by a reporter whether relegation was surprising given the names that had joined Rovers as part of the Willie McKay-led transfer policy - when promotion to the Premier League had also been mooted as the club’s ambition.

Coppinger replied: “It’s disrespectful to the league to think that by bringing in names it’s going to win you games.

“In this league, and in the leagues below, you need more than just names on the teamsheet.

“You need passion, commitment and togetherness.

“And it just shows if you haven’t got that you don’t do anything in football.

“Eight years I’ve been here and this is the hardest it’s been,” he added.

“What’s frustrating is that there’s players that have been here a long time and have so much success in the Championship and kept us in the league for three years.

“We’ve found it difficult because it’s a totally different regime and a totally different ways of doing things.

“It hasn’t worked out for us.”

Coppinger, who is contracted to Rovers till 2014, went on to say there were a number of factors involved in the club’s relegation to League One - and admitted Rovers were always fighting an uphill battle.

“I think it’s down to an accumulation of things,” he said.

“It’s hard to change things in a short period of time. People need time to adjust to different ways of doing things.

“Unfortunately the gaffer and everyone concerned were put into a position where they were fighting an uphill battle.

“It’s a shame because the chairman has made decisions in the past that paid dividends like bringing in Dave Penney and getting back-to-back promotions out of the Conference and League Two.

“Then obviously bringing in Sean O’Driscoll when people were thinking who’s Sean O’Driscoll?

“We had great success with Sean for five years but obviously Dean hasn’t had that time - he hasn’t had that bedding in period.

“He’s been thrown in at the deep end with the job of trying to keep us in the league and it’s been hard.

“It’s been hard on the fans, players, everybody.”