Peter Catt: Why Darren Ferguson will be hard to replace
It would have been a bombshell announcement had it not been half expected.
Darren Ferguson had dropped one or two hints, unintentionally or otherwise, in his after match press conferences towards the end of the season that everything in the Keepmoat garden was not entirely rosy.
His body language and response to some questions about the quality of players he might be able to bring in during the summer gave the game away.
For the first time it seemed as if the manager and the board were not completely in tune, or on the same page.
As far as I’m aware Fergie, unlike many managers I have known in the past, very rarely, if at all, spoke off the record to the media and generally kept his cards very close to his chest.
But the local reporters who knew him best could sense there was something not quite right, with speculation inevitably centring on the size of the budget available to him for strengthening his squad.
Whether or not that was the case there can really only be two reasons for him leaving what he had always indicated was a long term project.
He had stated more than once that he wants to manage above League One level.
Either he felt he was not going to be able to achieve that quickly enough with the immediate resources available at Doncaster, or there is an opportunity elsewhere that better matches his ambition.
The news has brought a mixed reaction from supporters on social media but I, for one, am sorry to see him go.
His appointment, almost three years ago, was rightly seen as something of a coup by the board of directors.
Ferguson already had three promotions on his CV and was to win a fourth with Rovers after he was unable to keep them up in his first season.
It’s a record of success that few managers his age can match and he had a presence about him that commanded respect.
He was seen as a chip off the old block and players young and old clearly had a high regard for him.
As did long-in-the-tooth sports reporters like myself.
During half a century reporting on the club I’ve got to know almost thirty different Doncaster managers close up. Some good, some bad, some great and some best forgotten.
For my money Fergie could have been up there on the heels of the best of them if he had stayed to complete his project at the club.
Some managers only concern themselves with the first team - understandably so as they live or die by results.
But after taking time to have a good look at everything Ferguson gradually began to make changes at the club regarding players, backroom staff, the youth set up and scouting system.
There can be little doubt that progress was made in all departments during his reign, which makes the parting of the ways all the more unfortunate.
The reasons for the departure will be pored over in weeks to come and there are certainly lessons to be learned.
But the inquest can wait.
Most important immediately is to bring in the right man to replace him - and there will be no shortage of applicants.
In many ways it’s a plum job with much of the groundwork already done.
Whoever takes over will inherit a hardworking squad of predominantly young players with a mix of veteran model professionals like James Coppinger and Andy Butler.
But there was something lacking last season and it will be vital that the new man identifies the missing ingredient and is given the resources to add it to the mix in the shape of shrewd signings.
Whether or not the root cause of Fergie’s abrupt departure was the size of the budget, the club has gone on record to say there is a five-year plan in place to achieve sustainability in the Championship.
Next season we will reach the halfway point of that plan and the owners are not the type to make rash pledges that are not attainable.
Whether or not it was fast enough for Ferguson’s liking the club has to splash out at some stage to achieve their aims.
Another reason, therefore, that the job is likely to attract candidates of a high calibre.
Ferguson, with his promotion success rate, will be a hard man to replace.
Among the names already mentioned - and there are many - Simon Grayson possibly comes closest to fitting the bill having won promotion to the Championship no less than four times, with four different teams!
With his long time assistant, Rovers legend and highly respected coach Glynn Snodin, working alongside him the pair would appear to be the perfect match.
If they are available, and interested, Rovers would do well to move swiftly.
A long, drawn out process with every recently sacked manager throwing his hat into the ring would benefit no-one.
Potential transfer targets could be lost...and the first pre-season friendly is only four weeks away!