Doncaster Rovers: Comment - Here we go again! The search for a new boss begins

Just as it was 12 months ago, Doncaster Rovers are without a manager as pre-season looms into view.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 18:12 pm
Grant McCann

Though it may have played out over a few days rather than the bolt from the blue of Darren Ferguson’s resignation, Grant McCann’s departure is nevertheless a shock that will leave plenty reeling.

The club’s recruitment drive had not quite hit as high a gear as some would have preferred, but this was a summer where positivity should have been widespread around the Keepmoat.

McCann’s first year at Rovers brought a brilliant run to the semi-finals of the play-offs where they were denied only through a penalty shootout.

And, after some impressive recruitment in a short space of time last summer, this year presented him with an opportunity to truly get his teeth into the task of shaping a squad fully in his image – something he was well underway with when the process of his departure began.

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It should have been the real start of something but instead will feel like the end.

It is hard not to feel somewhat sorry for the Rovers board that they once again find themselves in this position, at this most sensitive time of year, having thrown their weight behind a manager and showed him plenty of faith.

McCann was a man whose judgement they trusted; who drove the decision-making process regarding new contracts, recruitment and all manner of club infrastructure; who maintained the steadfast valuation of individuals which ultimately led to a handful of departures.

He himself has now left. That he has done so to join a club with not a fraction of Rovers’ stability will certainly rankle.

There will no doubt be plenty of panic among supporters at just what shape Rovers will enter a campaign which begins in six weeks.

For the first time since defeat in the play-offs, there should be genuine sympathy with such concerns.

Rovers will press on with the recruitment process McCann started, with the acquisition of several targets already in the advanced stages. But it is not hard to see that process being disrupted after the events of this week.

There was a feeling Rovers may well enter last season undercooked, given McCann’s arrival in late June and his determination to quickly impose his playing style on a squad he was still shaping right up until kick-off.

But undercooked they were not. If the next man at the helm can produce similar results in a much shorter timeframe, he will have done a tremendous job.

At least this year, the Rovers board have had some time to process the idea of beginning the hunt for a new boss before the old one departed.

Ferguson’s shock resignation caught the club completely off-guard while the process of McCann’s exit at least provided the opportunity for thought to what may follow.

Potential candidates took a similar approach, with dozens of tentative expressions of interest lodged soon after Hull officially asked for permission to speak to McCann.

The approach of the Rovers board has been to carry out recruitment in methodical, business-like and, ultimately, time-consuming fashion in the past.

Such an approach will be undertaken again – though this time with a more streamlined version in recognition that time is of the essence with the squad reporting back for pre-season on Thursday. 

The last two appointments made by this board have been very good, with a pair of managers who have ably taken the playing arm of the club in their hands and moulded it with a good amount of success.

McCann’s appointment last year demonstrated the board have an eye on continuity – with similar philosophies between he and Ferguson on the ideal playing style, recruitment and youth development.

Given the strides made by the club in recent years, continuity could be key yet again. 

What is certain is that the board will be looking to secure the right man for their vision of growing the club in a stable, sustainable and productive manner – while delivering on the pitch of course.

If it means taking their time, without dawdling, they will do it.

Patience from supporters will be needed. And, really, it should have been earned given the last two appointments.

So, it is a case of ‘here we go again.’ And it is hard to not feel plenty of disappointment at that.