Doncaster Rovers 'needed a cultural shift' insists boss

Richie Wellens says it has taken time to change a ‘comfortable’ culture at the training ground at Doncaster Rovers.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 11:20 am
Richie Wellens and his assistant Noel Hunt give out instructions on the sidelines

Wellens believes the rut of losing football matches in the second half of last season impacted upon the intensity levels in training and needed to be addressed as Rovers look to move away from the threat of relegation this season.

“It was a club that is used to losing,” he told the Free Press.

“If you’re very lucky when you come into a job you’ve got players in a position to be successful, momentum is with you and you’ve got a forward, upward curve.

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“But when you usually go into a job, there’s generally a reason why the old manager has gone.

“I walked into a club that had won three or four games in 24 so the culture of the club wasn’t right.

“The culture at the training ground where players want to get on the training pitch, training to a certain intensity wasn’t right.

“But I think we’re getting that now and I’m looking at players that train to their maximum every single day.

“I think we’re getting to where it is non-negotiable now that when you go on the pitch that your work ethic is such that it represents playing for the shirt and playing for the people of Doncaster.

“That is the minimum requirement and at the moment we’re getting that.

“It takes time because it’s something you feel.

“You sense it around the training ground.

“I have got a sense over the last couple of weeks that something is changing.

“It’s more the players coming out of their comfort zone, taking more responsibility on.

“James Coppinger has had a huge part to play in the mentality side of it.

“But the players are the ones that have to buy into it.

“We’re doing loads of different things and they’re buying into it, going out of their comfort zones.”

Wellens insists the cultural shift took time because of the injury crisis which has ravaged the club since pre-season and reduced the threat of players losing their places if not performing or training well.

“Usually, if you don’t give that effort, you’re out of the team,” he said.

“Weeks ago, people knew they weren’t going to lose their shirt because there was no one coming in behind them.

“We still haven’t got that but people are buying into the work ethic first and if you can have the football at your feet, that’s secondary to the work ethic and the passion you need to show when representing Doncaster Rovers.

“If you’ve got 11 players to pick from and you’re the only player in your position that is fit, it’s human nature to know you’re going to play.

“There were also so many reasons and excuses the players could give us because of all the factors in the last year. ‘I don’t feel fit because of this…’

“We’re looking now at a team of individuals who look fit on the training ground and when we’re going into the latter parts of games.”

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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. Liam Hoden, editor.