Axed Doncaster Rovers Belles boss Sam Winch hits back at club over ‘farcical’ sacking

Former Doncaster Rovers Belles boss Sam Winch says he's "really disappointed" by the club's "gut-wrenching" decision to sack him after just ten games.
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Winch and his assistant, head coach Alexandre Brito Nogueira, were dismissed on Thursday following the Belles’ third straight defeat.

Unusually, they had been paired by the club, having never met before taking on the role, and oversaw six losses, three wins and a draw during their four-month spell at the helm.

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Winch said: "I'm really disappointed. It's gut-wrenching. I have never actually met the two people that made the decision.

Former Belles manager Sam Winch (left) and his assistant Alexandre Brito Nogueira.Former Belles manager Sam Winch (left) and his assistant Alexandre Brito Nogueira.
Former Belles manager Sam Winch (left) and his assistant Alexandre Brito Nogueira.

"Chris Wood said he was in the room but didn't make the decision. It's gut-wrenching. It might be a grassroots team but it's my career.

"To be sacked seven league games into a project of developing young players is farcical.

"I would like to think Grant McCann deserves a lot more time and he's well into ten games."

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In a statement, Chris Wood, who has now been made Belles’ chief executive, said: "Without a shadow of a doubt both Sam and Alex have thrown themselves into their roles.

"However, unfortunately it has become evident in recent weeks that despite their endeavour both the standards of training sessions expected and the results being achieved on the pitch were not in keeping with our expectations.”

Winch, who holds the UEFA A licence qualification, described Wood’s comments about the standard of training as 'slanderous'.

He added: "I rang Chris and said 'you have never said that to me'.

"It's subjective to say they were poor.

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"Performances and results are two completely separate things. I was delighted with the performance against Hull when we lost 3-0, which I know sounds bizarre but we were working to develop players.

"When I came in for my interview they said 'this is a project, we want you here for a long time'.

"The one thing I asked for was patience and time, I got ten games."

Winch said he was told the decision to sack him was based on league results, with Belles currently ninth in the 12-team Women’s National League Division One North.

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Wood claimed the squad, some of whom gave the green light to hire Winch and Nogueira, "were supportive of the decision”.

Winch praised the team’s efforts but admitted he signed too many young players.

On the club’s direction, he said: "It's being handled incorrectly at the top level.

"There's some great people there, especially the players, the young girls, they have all reached out to me. They have all shown their love and respect. The staff we brought in have been fantastic.

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"The club is in a worrying place. For this club to move forward, they need football people at the very top level.

"If they really believe in Donny Belles and want to get that prestigious club back to where they were, then hire people full time and take it seriously."

Getting the club back up the football pyramid remains a goal, Wood said in his statement, but it is not a short-term one.

Belles Emerging Talent Centre (ETC) manager Shaun Hird took charge of Sunday’s 8-0 win over FC Manton of Worksop in the Sheffield & Hallamshire FA County Cup third round.

Hird is being advised by the club’s former boss, Paul Edmunds, while Winch’s replacement is sought.