An inevitability but a deeply sad one: How Darren Moore's departure from Doncaster Rovers has long been anticipated

There has been an inevitability that this would come since the day that Darren Moore was appointed manager of Doncaster Rovers.

By Liam Hoden
Monday, 1st March 2021, 11:39 am

But that fact will not make it any easier to stomach for anyone associated with the club as they watch him head down the M18 towards Sheffield.

Securing Moore as boss 19 months ago always looked like a coup for Rovers, given his profile in the game.

And so it proved, with the calibre of young player he attracted, the progressive, entertaining football his side played and the relative success he enjoyed.

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Darren Moore

A well-liked and well-respected figure in the game, there were always going to be suitors if the results were good enough. The surprise, probably, was that there were not more vultures circling over the last 12 months.

Rovers knew from the start what they were likely letting themselves in for when Moore was handed the reins.

And, certainly since last summer, they have been planning for when this day would come.

The return of Andy Butler to the Keepmoat served multiple purposes.

A portion of the wage budget - albeit a tiny one - was used for a player that hardly fit the demographic of a Moore signing. And, unsurprisingly, the driving force for doing so came from above.

Impressed with the work he had done in revolutionising the Belles in a short time, and with his deep connection to the club, the Rovers hierarchy had their eyes on Butler as the perfect man to step in should Moore indeed depart.

And it is fair to say the option for another 12 months in the contract the 37-year-old signed in January was always going to be activated.

Rovers wanted to be in the position where they had their hands on a ready-made replacement for the manager, on whatever length of terms they wished.

They were heartened by the job Butler did when stepping in for a fortnight after Moore was forced into self-isolation. The positive response from the players was strong, and there appeared to be a good level of cohesion with the styles of management.

Behind the scenes, it must be said, the concerns over Moore’s future did not arise from the actions of the man himself.

He spoke regularly with those in power about the long term plan the two parties shared, about steadily strengthening the club from top to bottom. And there was a feeling he personally was committed to the cause, not just in the short term.

Rovers turned down an approach from a certain massive-spending League Two outfit in the autumn, largely because Moore had no interest in departing, despite what it would have likely meant for his bank balance.

But there was also an acknowledgement from the Rovers hierarchy that Moore is an ambitious young coach - and with representatives with even more lofty ambitions than him.

Over the last six months or so, his name has been increasingly linked with managerial jobs, often without any real substance. But his name was regularly among the chatter and it does not require too much of a leap to guess who was putting it out there.

Yet, there will not be many people, whatever their allegiance or standing, who are not scratching their heads over Moore’s switch.

From the initial expression of interest on Friday to confirmation on Sunday that he wanted to leave, a few people have been caught off guard simply because the job he has taken is far from attractive at this present time.

A manager who pours over minute details, who genuinely holds long term plans and looks deep into the future, has joined a club lacking anything resembling sustainability.

Moore has jumped from one of the safest jobs in football to one of the least secure. One of his mentors, Tony Pulis, knows all too well of the dangers of walking into Hillsborough at the present time.

That will make the move even harder to take in for those with Rovers tinted spectacles - particularly with Rovers in such a promising position currently.

Recent form has undoubtedly been poor and there are rightly concerns about the depth with which certain on-field issues have taken root. However, sitting sixth in the table, with games in hand over every side above them and plenty of time to play with presents an opportunity for tangible success with an unfancied outfit.

But we have been here before. And we’ll probably be here again.

Rovers have put their unconventional recruitment method to good use over the last five years to appoint three successive successful managers who have each taken the club forward, each in their own way.

Given that, there will be no reason to depart from that when they come to next appoint a manager.

But, given the relative size of the club, comes the danger that success will lead to a departure. Dare we say the inevitability?


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.