More than Fergie Mark 2: Long read on what shaped Grant McCann the manager

The comparisons with Darren Ferguson are accurate.

Friday, 6th July 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 3:47 pm
Grant McCann

A shared philosophy of how the game should be played, a willingness and desire to promote youth, a desperation for victory and success.

But Grant McCann says there is much more to him as a manager than just being Fergie Mk 2.

The new Doncaster Rovers boss admits he has been heavily influenced by his predecessor, having played under him at Peterborough United.

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But his influences are far from limited to Ferguson and he insists he is very much his own character.

“I learned a lot from Darren but I also learned a lot from Nigel Adkins,” he said.

“From Nigel it was the calmness he brings. He never gets too emotionally drained if you lose or win. He’s calm and collected.

“I’ve learned the anger and aggression from the Ferguson side.

“But knowing how to keep it, not going too over the top much.

“I’ve learned a lot from different managers.

“Darren gave me my chance in coaching with the U15s at Peterborough. I’ve got a lot of time for Darren and what he did for me, both as a player and certainly developing a coaching role.

“I’ve got nothing but good words to say about him.

“I know I’m coming to a club where the foundations have been laid and hopefully I can add to them.”

McCann worked under current Hull City boss Adkins at Scunthorpe.

And it is at that time when the seeds of a future managerial career were sewed for the 38-year-old.

A desire to understand the decisions made by Adkins saw McCann begin working towards his coaching badges with the ultimate goal of management once he hung up his boots.

“I always knew, watching Nigel Adkins’ sessions, especially when I was at Scunthorpe, being inquisitive after training, asking questions,” McCann said.

“When you’re a young player and a manager puts on a session, you think ‘what are they doing this for?’

“But as you get a bit older, and people like Andy Butler doing a bit of coaching now will understand this, they will tell you there’s a reason for doing certain things.

“I got a bit more inquisitive with Nigel, being a bit more inquisitive with Darren, wanting to know why we were doing something and understanding it.

“That just set me off to complete my badges and get them done and dusted, By the age of 34, 35 I had my pro license.

“I always knew I wanted to go into that side of the game.”

McCann’s personality seems to collate with his style of play on the pitch – composed but with a steely edge.

He is softly spoken but provides numerous hints that he is not a man to be messed with.

Discussions with people who have worked with McCann in the past suggest he is fiercely loyal and protective of the players under his care.

He agrees with such sentiment but insists players do not get many opportunities to shape his perception of them.

“I’m calm,” he says when asked to describe his character.

“I don’t get too high when we win and I don’t get too low when we lose. I know it’s going to be a season.

“I’ve also got that Belfast aggressive side that you don’t want to see.

“The players will know that I’m approachable. I’ve said that to them already.

“I’m not very approachable in that they’ll be knocking on my door asking if they can have tomorrow off.

“I’m approachable and if I can help, I’ll help.

“But my only focus is to win.

“There’s a lot of improving people, winning and making us successful.

“Hopefully it’s going to build for a really good season.”

The two sides of the personality look set to be replicated in the team he crafts at Rovers – at least if his plans for them are anything to go by.

The Belfast boy has spoken of forging an attractive style of football, with smart passing through the thirds and creation of plenty of chances.

But he also wants a real steel to Rovers and to turn the Keepmoat into an intimidating away ground for visiting teams while ensuring it is place the people of Doncaster will relish coming to.

Ultimately, he believes both routes will lead to success for Rovers.

“I’m a loyal person,” he said.

“When my heart is in something and I want to do well, I do it and make sure it’s done.

“That’s what I want to do here. I want to make sure we’re all together, we get a whole buy in. I know the football club has any way.

“The culture, the community, the fans, the drummer at the back of the stand. We want to get this place rocking on a Saturday.

“We don’t want people coming here on a Saturday thinking it’s going to be an easy ride, that they’re coming to a lovely stadium in Doncaster where the pitch is beautiful.

“No. You’re coming here to work hard to try to beat us. No one is coming next season to take an easy three points off us.

“That is the message that will be sent to the players.”

And the players will be clear what will happen if that is not the case.