class act

Doncaster Rovers v Middlesborough.  npower Championship.'17 December 2010.    Picture Bruce Rollinson.'Rovers Manager Sean O'Driscoll.
Doncaster Rovers v Middlesborough. npower Championship.'17 December 2010. Picture Bruce Rollinson.'Rovers Manager Sean O'Driscoll.

SEAN O’Driscoll took over as the longest serving manager in the Championship following the sacking of Cardiff City boss Dave Jones this week.

Jones, who had been at Cardiff since May, 2005, paid the price for the club’s failure to win promotion through the play-offs after City finished fourth in the table this year.

It now makes O’Driscoll the longest serving of any of the 24 Championship bosses and currently the ninth longest serving manager in English league football.

Club chairman John Ryan told me this week: “It’s a great record for Sean and the club to have - and long may it continue.

“I went to a lot of trouble to get Sean to the club five years ago and I feel I’ve been fully vindicated with what he has achieved during that time.”

The 53-year-old Doncaster boss was appointed to succeed Dave Penney in September 2006 after serving six years as manager of Bournemouth.

He holds the distinction of never having been sacked during almost 11 years as a manager and has won more games than he has lost at both clubs.

It was O’Driscoll’s reputation for playing an entertaining brand of passing football that attracted Ryan to him in the first place and the Rovers chief reckoned the manager’s ethos of how the game should be played was carried out to the ultimate in Barcelona’s brilliant display against Manchester United last Saturday night.

Ryan said: “Barcelona’s performance in the Champions League final at Wembley has been acclaimed all over the world.

“But that’s how Sean wants to play every week.

“He wants to play a beautiful passing game and entertain the fans.

“Obviously you can’t play like that all the time and you have to have players of the quality of Barcelona to bring it to its ultimate conclusion.

“But that’s the way we will always try to play - obviously at a different level - while Sean is here.”

Ryan said that while many clubs had ‘hire and fire’ reputations Rovers placed the emphasis firmly on continuity and stability.

He said: “It’s a policy that I believe has served us well.

“I’ve been chairman for 13 years, Dave Penney was here nine years as a player and almost five as a manager, and now we have Sean.

“We are loyal to our managers and I think we are a club of principle.

“Continuity and perseverance rather than looking at the short term is the key to success in my opinion and we’ve proved that with Sean.

“Some people were saying ‘Sean who’ when he was appointed and there have been a couple of occasions when some people were calling for his head.

“But we’ve stuck together and here we are looking forward to our fourth consecutive season in the second tier - and that hasn’t happened since we enjoyed eight successive seasons at this level under another long serving manager in Peter Doherty.”

Since he joined the club O’Driscoll has taken Rovers to their first major final in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the Millennium Stadium and into the Championship by beating Leeds United in the promotion play-off final at Wembley.