South calls for unity

Criticised: But without John Ryan Rovers would not be in the Championship while Dean Saunders has done well, says Len South.
Criticised: But without John Ryan Rovers would not be in the Championship while Dean Saunders has done well, says Len South.

SUPPORTERS’ Club chairman Len South today called for the town to get behind Doncaster Rovers in their battle to stave off relegation from the Championship.

Mr South particularly wants supporters to unite behind Dean Saunders’ men in their continuing efforts to climb out of the bottom three.

Fans chief: Len South

Fans chief: Len South

“I want the fans to put their differences to one side and get behind the team,” he told The Star.

“Let’s look at the positives and not dwell on the games that have gone which we can’t do anything about and let’s look at the games we’ve still got to play. Let’s go to Bristol City on Saturday and get behind the lads and hopefully they’ll put on a good performance and pick up the three points.”

Mr South says the club’s decision to axe long-serving manager Sean O’Driscoll, following a disastrous start to the season which saw only one point from the club’s first seven league games, still rankles with some fans. Others are known to disagree with the club’s policy of bringing in players on short-term contacts and remain unhappy with football agent Willie McKay’s involvement in player recruitment.

Manager Dean Saunders hinted recently that the ‘McKay experiment’ might not survive relegation to League One as top players would probably think twice about linking up with a club in the third tier of English football.

“The club would have to cross that bridge when it came to it,” said McKay this week. “But if it happened I’d be very surprised as well as very upset. If we are successful I’d like it to continue next season.””

Mr South is particularly disappointed that chairman John Ryan has come in for criticism from some quarters.

“Those people who have been having a go at John Ryan are not Doncaster Rovers’ fans,” he said.

“Without John Ryan the club wouldn’t be in the Championship. Those who are criticising him have got short memories.

“I was always a big fan of Sean O’Driscoll, and I liked the way he managed the team. But I don’t think he knew how to put things right at the end.

“John was in a no-win situation. If he stuck with Sean and we got relegated he would have been criticised for not changing the manager so he did so and we’ve picked up a lot more points under Dean Saunders.

“But because we are still in the bottom three you still get people saying that we should have stuck with Sean and that he would have done a better job. Dean has done well and we are becoming hard to beat at home, but he has to be given time to build his own team.

“There is too much negativity during what will go down as a golden era for Rovers. This is our fourth year of punching above our weight at Championship level and although we had a disappointing year in 2011 it is the first time in nearly a decade that we’ve not progressed.

“By the law of averages we were going to have a season or two where we stood still or went backwards, but hopefully if we can survive this season we can be up there challenging next season. It would be a massive boost were the club to keep hold of Billy Sharp until at least the end of the season and I congratulate such as John Ryan and (vice-chairman) Dick Watson for trying to keep him by offering him a club-record contract.

“Billy is a smashing footballer who oozes class and we are very lucky to have him.

“I’d also back the club in trying to sign El Hadji Diouf. He’s absolute class when he’s on the ball. I’d love him to stay and I think every Rovers’ supporter would do as well.

“I know some people knock what Willie Mckay is doing, but without his involvement we wouldn’t have Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda and Habib Beye at the club.

“They are good players who are also helping to bring out the best in the players who were already here. Just look at how well Sam Hird is playing in the back-four.

“But if we are going to keep such quality players we need more bums on seats. Doncaster as a town has to give the club better support. I remain convinced that if we are up there challenging for a top-six spot next season that we’d be getting gates of 11 or 12,000.”