Doncaster Rovers: Gavin Baldwin on contracts, negotiations and backing Grant McCann's 18-month plan

Grant McCann, chairman David Blunt and chief executive Gavin Baldwin
Grant McCann, chairman David Blunt and chief executive Gavin Baldwin

Doncaster Rovers chief executive Gavin Baldwin believes so many players being out of contract next summer will help Grant McCann shape his squad much more quickly.

Baldwin admits the club would have preferred not to be in the situation where 21 players are set to see their current deals expire in June.

And he says the upheaval which followed Darren Ferguson's surprise resignation as manager in the summer was the primary cause of the issue.

But he believes the situation has presented boss McCann with a rare opportunity to mould his squad in his image mere months into his tenure.

Explaining the issue, Baldwin told the Free Press: “This is not blame, it is just fact, but we wouldn't have been in that situation had Darren Ferguson not left.

“Grant came in and from day one, he said he wanted to have a look at the players before extending contracts.

“We, before Darren left, were very clear what players we wanted to stay and Darren was keen to extend.

“When he left, all bets were off and the players needed to prove themselves to the new manager.

“From the start of the interview process, Grant was clear that as manager, he’d make his mind up and have those conversations.

”It isn’t ideal and we had plans that would have meant we weren't in this situation.

“But it has given Grant the opportunity to look at the players.

“When we did our 18-month plan, we'll have the unique situation that in 12 months to 18 months’ time, Grant will have his team on the field.

“Grant has been quite clear that at other clubs that could take two or three years.

“You could say through good fortune or good management, Grant will be going into next season with players that he wants – that he's either extended, recruited himself or is very happy with.”

The 18-month plan has been drawn up by McCann, Baldwin and the club’s hierarchy in recent weeks as the Rovers boss looks to build his squad for a push for Championship football.

Determining which players will and will not be offered deals of the 21 whose futures are uncertain is a key part of that.

“Grant and I met with the chairman and we've come up with an 18 month plan of what we want the team to look like next season,” Baldwin said.

“But we still want to give ourselves the best possible chance of promotion next season.

“We're using January to start working towards that 18-month goal.

“Kieran Sadlier has come in.

“He is someone that Grant has been very keen on since he came here.

“The other targets that might come in, Grant either thinks will get us promoted this season or will help us build to next season.

“It's a hopefully well thought-out plan of extending player contracts with new ones coming in as well and some going out.”

Discussion over new contract is well under way, with Danny Amos seeing the club take up the option of an extra year in his contract.

And McCann expects two or three others to be finalised over the next couple of weeks.

“Grant has spoken to the players and we’re in the process of putting those offers in writing," Baldwin said.

“Some have had them and some will be on their way.

“Those contract extensions are on-going conversations, primarily between Grant and the players, and then we have to do the administration side of it.

“Grant has met with players that extensions will not be offered to just yet.

“Basically he wants to see more of them and make his mind up.

“We're hoping to be in the situation by February that we're nailed on, we know what we're doing next year and Grant is absolutely sure of who he wants here, regardless of what division we're in next season.

”Everyone we've spoken to so far has gone very well but we're bang in the middle of it.”

As for further additions, Baldwin insists McCann is happy with his squad following the addition of Sadlier and with a young forward set to sign on loan at the start of January.

But the chief executive says McCann will continue to examine the market for potential additions, with funds remaining available for potential loan or permanent signings.

“He is looking strategically where we need reinforcements in certain areas,” he said.

“But he is very happy with what we've got as well. He thinks they've done really well and wants to be loyal to those that have got us in the position we're in.

“However, he does believe that by adding strength in depth and a little bit of tweaking in the first team that we've got a really good chance of getting promoted.

“With Kieran, other teams were very keen.

“Grant knew him from the past and we knew as a board he thought very highly of him so we did all we could to make sure we got him in and Grant is delighted.”

On explaining the board’s eagerness to back McCann’s plans, Baldwin says there has been a real appreciation of the job done so far by the 38-year-old.

And he insists there is a desire to ensure McCann has all the tools he needs to achieve the ultimate goal of promotion.

“We thought we had done a thorough recruitment process and we thought we'd got the right man but we've genuinely enjoyed the first half of the season,” Baldwin said.

“We also appreciate that when things don’t go our way, he is brutally honest. He blames himself, he's been honest about performances and then it’s straight back to the training ground to put it right.

“There's no hiding away. All he wants us to do is be better every day and he challenges the players to do that.

“When I walk around the ground on a Saturday, the fans are genuinely enjoying it.

“I'd like to think we've got a good relationship where we can have some proper honest conversations and talk about players, the future, facilities etc.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

“Our only aim is to give him what he needs for the best chance at promotion.”