A year with Darren Moore as the Doncaster Rovers boss marks 12 months in charge

He arrived as a hulking great figure with a beaming smile larger than the shadow he cast.
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A year on, he may have dramatically leaned down but the smile on his face remains as large as ever.

Darren Moore’s tenure as Doncaster Rovers boss has passed the 12 month milestone, amidst the most bizarre of times in the game.

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A popular former player returning as manager in a time of need, he did not need to turn on the charm offensive but had people won over quickly with a flash of that smile.

Darren MooreDarren Moore
Darren Moore

Though he remained in the background for Rovers’ first friendly after his appointment, he gave up time in and around Gainsborough Trinity’s Northolme ground to stop to shake hands and listen to stories of how fans had met him two decades earlier when he was charging around Belle Vue as a powerful young defender.

Such graciousness has not abated much in the 12 months since.

Moore is here of course to win over more than hearts.

Assessing the impact of the gentle giant over his first year in charge is not as simple as it might have been, given the latter four months of it were in pause mode courtesy of a global pandemic.

Darren MooreDarren Moore
Darren Moore
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But when it comes to on-field matters, it was all pretty positive, particularly after arriving with little time to work with his squad before the season kicked off.

He implemented an attack-minded, entertaining brand of football and garnered good results quickly, despite lacking an out-and-out striker following the expected departure of John Marquis.

And he helped shape a more adaptable group to emerge from a lengthy tricky period before Christmas when opposition teams succeeded in shutting Rovers down.

By the time the shutdown of the game came in mid-March, with ten matches still to play, Rovers maintained realistic ambitions for the play-offs - not that you would ever have caught the manager himself admitting that at the time.

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We are now, of course, in the time of year where anyone associated with Rovers gets twitchy about the future of the manager. Two years of experience is hard to shake off.

In Moore, Rovers have a man committed to a project he is passionate about - one which he sees very much as long-term.

That is not to say however that he will stick around to see it through to completion. No one’s future is certain in football.

Moore, personally, is not actively hunting for the next opportunity. But he will of course have advisers who will see part of their role as keeping a close eye for potential options to further his career.

And there are always likely to be options for him.

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His profile in the game is tremendous, with not only praise for his character as one of football’s ‘good guys’ but also a great deal of respect, particularly for the manner in which he has aided the development of young players since becoming a coach.

One highly rated Premier League youngster - likely to be heading for a temporary spell in the Championship next season - told Moore he was desperate to join Rovers on loan after witnessing them in action.

It is such standing in the game that will see him touted for other opportunities. There are not many clubs where he would prove to be an unpopular appointment.

Worrying about how long Moore will be around for would not be particularly productive for a football club, especially one with a sizeable squad rebuild on its hands in difficult financial conditions.

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Though his abilities in the transfer market come under plenty of scrutiny - particularly in relation to the hunt for a replacement for Marquis - he arguably possesses the right qualities to see Rovers through their latest recruitment drive.

What has emerged over the last 12 months is that Moore is a stubborn man when it comes to getting what he wants. And he is unflappable in that stubbornness.

This was never more apparent than during the times when the transfer window was open.

While the desperation and panic grew among supporters, no one was more level-headed, calm and assured that it would turn out right in the end.

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His downfall in such times has been the choice of words he uses regularly to bat off the inevitable barrage of questions about signings - those which seek to eek out even the tiniest morsel of information from a man unwilling to give it up.

The lesson was a quick one that Moore has no time for speculation, nor is he particularly fond of the names of transfer targets being publicised.

There were times when, if taking his words at face value, you could have been forgiven for thinking it sounded like there was no urgency and no plan in August and January.

There was a plan. Moore’s plan.

He knew exactly who he wanted and he was willing to wait. And he was completely unwilling to sign an alternative he did not fully believe was right for Rovers.

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Moore remained steadfast, despite the criticism and questioning. It saw August come and go without the direct replacement for Marquis. It saw almost all of January pass before Fejiri Okenabirhie finally walked through the door.

Between now and whenever next season starts, Moore knows full well there is not really any time to wait as he puts his squad together. Expect more decisiveness from the gaffer over the next couple of months.

Rovers may have been on pause since mid-March but Moore certainly has not. After working tirelessly has a picture of what he wants and what will be available.

Anyone who has witnessed his now regular appearances as a Sky Sports pundit will know he has also been working on his own fitness. The hustle and bustle of management life means eating the right food at the right times is far from easy or convenient. Lockdown has allowed him the opportunity to make the sensible choices and he insists he has ditched the doughnuts for good.

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He is a man with real focus. Just do not expect him to show that with words the next time he is asked publicly about signings.


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