SPORT MATTERS: The only way is up for Rovers

Leeds United v Doncaster. Donacaster player Billy Sharp celebrates his goal to make it 1-1... 5th March 2011....Picture By Simon Hulme..

Leeds United v Doncaster. Donacaster player Billy Sharp celebrates his goal to make it 1-1... 5th March 2011....Picture By Simon Hulme..

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I LIKE to call Sean O’Driscoll the ‘Special One’ of the Championship.

He’s quite simply a different breed of manager to anything else in the English game.

Nobody else, for instance, could get away with saying what O’Driscoll did after the curtain came down on a troublesome season at Middlesbrough.

When Rovers’ gaffer stated he’d rather his team were relegated than lose the ‘identity’ they have fostered under his tenure, it was a paradox of the results-oriented business that football essentially is.

It was a statement typical of a man with deep-rooted footballing principles and with his own unique thought process and approach to management.

But, in my view, it was more than that - it was also a clear message to the club’s board of directors.

To me the statement was a warning - an ultimatum if you like - to John Ryan: either back me in the transfer market this summer or see your team return to League One!

Rovers’ wafer-thin squad - and their over-reliance on Billy Sharp - was ruthlessly exposed as the club limped over the finish line with their Championship status just intact.

And nothing but a major overhaul will keep Doncaster in this division next time around.

I’m led to believe that the financial backing is there for O’Driscoll to strengthen his squad accordingly.

Five or six new players have been mentioned, and that’s the minimum requirement.

The club is also making all the right noises about holding on to their prize assets.

But there’s no disguising the fact that these next few months could be pivotal in the history of Doncaster Rovers.

Rovers have reached the Championship crossroads.

It’s up to O’Driscoll and Ryan to decide in which direction they want to take the club - and going downwards should not be an option, regardless of what the manager might say.

*Read Sport Matters, our new interactive comment column, with Paul Goodwin every week in the Free Press.

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