Paul Goodwin: Rovers must review short term recruitment policy for longer term success

Billy Sharp
Billy Sharp

If Rovers want success in the long term, they must exercise caution when it comes to short term measures.

Apart from relegation, the last two seasons in the Championship have had one thing in common; loans and short term contracts have been plentiful.

Recruitment has had an ‘elastoplast’ feel to it. Gaps in the squad have been plugged by temporary signing after temporary signing. One only has to think about how many different left backs played under Paul Dickov last season: James Husband, Reece Wabara, Yun Suk-Young, Enda Stevens.

Granted, injuries can’t be helped. And Rovers’ reliance on short term signings is understandable given the club’s financial resources.

Dickov’s ability to attract high profile loan players for very little outlay was also one of the Scot’s main selling points.

But it’s a strategy that ought to be reviewed if the club hope to avoid perennial yo-yoing or, worse still, settle for League One obscurity.

When Rovers finished the 2009/10 season in the dizzy heights of 12th in the Championship, they had enlisted the help of six loan players over the course of the season. A sensible amount. Among them were Billy Sharp, Jason Shackell and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas; all quality additions that complemented the existing squad, a strong core of players that formed a genuine bond on and off the pitch under the guidance of Sean O’Driscoll.

Fast forward to the present day and that ‘core’ is no longer so obvious. Transition has become the norm.

So too, the big summer turnover of players.

Over the course of the last two seasons in the second tier, Rovers have loaned no fewer than 22 players and signed a shed load more on short term deals.

Of course, short term contracts aren’t all bad. They keep players on their toes for starters.

But they can also breed uncertainty, a lack of accountability and responsibility.

Too many ‘temporary’ players at once can make the dressing room a fractured place; just like what happened in 2012.

Rovers, I expect, will continue to exploit the loan market.

But they must also strive to re-establish that strong core of contracted players, and not rely on lads who see Doncaster as a ‘stepping stone’ to so-called bigger and better things.

In simple terms, Rovers must get the balance right when it comes to recruitment. A long, hard slog awaits in League One and Dickov needs a strong base squad to pick from.

Loans and temporary deals might save a bit of cash in the short term, but the club can’t afford to cut corners if they want to return to the Championship any time soon - and also stay there.