Doncaster Rovers were never going to be rebuilt in a day - and Richie Wellens knows that: Liam Hoden column

Rome wasn’t built in a day - and neither will be the ‘new’ Doncaster Rovers.

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 29th July 2021, 6:04 pm

Architect Richie Wellens has made an excellent start to his renovation project, adding real quality and senior experience to his squad.

But, with the swiftness that the playing budget has been eaten up by the new additions, it has hammered home that this transfer window was only ever going to be the start.

We were told as much on Wellens’ appointment. The rebuild word was used, along with talk that it may well be next season when Rovers progress in competitive terms.

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Doncaster Rovers boss Richie Wellens

Yet it has still led to accusations from a section of the support that the playing budget is not as advertised. Impatience has crept in before a ball has been kicked.

Rovers did significantly increase the budget from that of last season, forecasting with optimism that income streams would soon be back on their way to pre-pandemic levels in the game.

But there was never going to be a departure from the strive for a sustainable business model under which the club has operated for the last half a decade or so. This season’s budget is comparable with the largest Rovers have had during that time frame.

Each manager decides to use his pot of money as he sees fit.

With the budget he had at his disposal - reduced heavily due to the ravages of coronavirus on football finances - previous boss Darren Moore chose to bring in younger players while also striving to give depth to the squad.

Wellens has gone down a different route, favouring experience and League One readiness, even if it means at this stage strength in numbers may be sacrificed.

It has given him a very strong starting XI, as demonstrated by some of the very impressive play against a strong Newcastle United side on Friday night.

No doubt, that while there was plenty to be optimistic about at the Keepmoat, the concerns about a lack of depth were not too far away.

That was demonstrated by the performance against Sheffield United, with the absence of Ben Close from the side proving to be very damaging.

If Rovers can avoid injuries and suspensions this season, they have the quality in the group to be competing at the top end of the division.

Realistically though, they are unlikely to avoid such disruption, particularly with Covid-19 still a serious concern for all clubs.

But Wellens has a plan and he has had one all along.

His way of playing demands a level of football intelligence alongside the right physical attributes to cope with the strain that high intensity in defence and attack requires.

In short, he needs the right players and preferably ones that have proven themselves in the past.

Getting a core group of the right players into the club during his first transfer window was a priority and he has already achieved that with plenty of time to spare.

Whether he will be able to trade out certain players to get fresh blood in is unknown at this stage but there is a potential for a domino effect that could see multiple signings arriving should even just one leave.

If not, he is willing to wait and take another transfer window or two to fully construct the squad he wants. Wellens wants to get the job right and he will take the requisite time to do it.

He knows it takes more than a day.


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.