Fans' Panel give their verdict on Darren Moore, Andy Butler and Doncaster Rovers' promotion chances

A week is a long time in football and that has certainly been the case at Doncaster Rovers.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:02 pm
Darren Moore and Andy Butler. Photos: Getty Images

Darren Moore walked out, Andy Butler stepped in and Rovers have collected six points from nine under their interim boss as the League One promotion race enters the final straight.

We asked our Fans’ Panel to take stock and reflect on a hectic few days at the club.

Here’s what they had to say on Moore, Butler and Rovers’ promotion chances...

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DANIEL NICE

They say you should never be surprised by surprises in football, so I was shocked by Darren Moore’s departure only in the sense of timing and destination.

It is disappointing that Moore chose to leave what appeared to be a long-term project but he will point at his West Brom experience and say that loyalty cuts both ways.

But why go to a desperately out of sorts Sheffield Wednesday and why now? I watched his first game in charge and, to be blunt, the scale of the task is arguably already beyond him.

The board’s decision to quickly install Andy Butler has already proved prudent. He has quickly turned the blip around as the squad has again shown admirable resilience to go with their skill.

Butler’s decisions to reinstate James Coppinger, select Louis Jones, and have AJ Greaves in the squad are not lost on me. Coppinger has produced two outstanding performances while Jones and Greaves show that while Moore’s loan signings were excellent, the club also has plenty of talent from within.

There’s probably a moral in there somewhere.

While the last three managers have come and gone at the drop of a hat, Butler has a song about one. He is unquestionably a Donny man; a boyhood fan who lives locally, a player who always gave 100% and values the Club Doncaster model through his time managing the Belles and his work with Fit Rovers.

Yes, Butler lacks experience, but how do you gain it without opportunity?

There’s all to play for. While Sunderland are on a roll and hard to beat, everyone else is prone to losing and teams will take points off one another.

Given that football tends to go full cycle, who would argue against us replacing Moore’s new team via play-off games against our other two former managers? If this is to be Coppinger’s last season, any narrative is possible.

Prediction: 1 Lincoln City, 2 Sunderland, 3 Peterborough United, 4 Doncaster Rovers, 5 Hull City, 6 Accrington Stanley

RYAN DUNPHY

It is rarely dull at Doncaster Rovers!

A week is a long time in football and in my opinion the past week has certainly benefitted us both short term and long term.

Personally, I cannot understand Darren Moore’s decision to leave for Sheffield Wednesday, a club in a real crisis.

He has swapped one of the safest jobs in football for one of the most turbulent. I think many fans will feel let down by his decision but I genuinely feel this will allow the club to unlock its potential.

Yes, of course, I appreciate what he has done for us in stabilising the club since Grant McCann left in similar circumstances but in all honesty I have never really felt that excited watching his team and stubborn style of play. I think this is where he and Andy Butler differ.

Initially I was against the appointment of Butler but hearing him speak and watching his approach has made think differently. I don’t think this is a re-run of the Rob Jones stint.

Whilst it is early days, I see similar characteristics between McCann and Butler, in particular the fast-paced style of play. We have a very talented squad and his attacking approach allows the players to play with freedom. This is more likely to yield positive results than the previous, restrictive approach.

I remain confident of a top six position regardless of the manager as the squad has the qualities to be in and around it. The boost Darren’s departure has given us could potentially see us challenge the top two, but I fear we may fall just short as the run in is relentless.

The best way to get promotion is through the play-offs though, right?

Prediction: 1 Peterborough United, 2 Hull City, 3 Sunderland, 4 Doncaster Rovers, 5 Lincoln City, 6 Oxford United

JAMES BELLAMY

What a difference a week can make.

The departure of Moore seemed to come completely out of the blue. Although we all knew this day would come, the manner of his departure and the club he has left for is disappointing to say the least.

I think most of us believed he was not the type to have his head turned so easily. To me, this feels very similar to the Dean Saunders departure with both deciding against finishing the job they had started.

Up steps Andy Butler. A player and now manager who has the club and town at the heart of his motivations. While initially a shock appointment, for me at least, Butler is an exciting one. Are there ‘better’ more qualified managers out there? Probably, but none of them know the club, squad, and the meaning of the next ten weeks more than Butler.

From the first minute against Portsmouth he has added intensity, pressure and unity into this squad, something every fan can get behind. The talent was always there in this group, but in the past five to six games the intensity had gone when we needed it the most.

If Butler can maintain the performances he has inspired in these players in the weeks to come, I see no reason why we cannot be serious contenders for an automatic promotion spot, especially given the games in hand we have on those around us. Ultimately, it will probably be decided by the games against Peterborough in the final weeks.

A final tick in the column of Butler is the re-introduction of the evergreen James Coppinger. His creativity and reliability could prove the tipping point in Darren Moore’s biggest failing - ‘getting it over the line’.

Prediction: 1 Sunderland, 2 Doncaster Rovers, 3 Peterborough United, 4 Hull City ,5 Lincoln City, 6 Ipswich Town

LIZZIE ROBINSON

To say I feel “let down” is a massive understatement, and this is because of the team Darren Moore departed us for.

It seems to be a bit of a trend now: managers upping sticks to a Championship Club with turbulent ownership, destined for relegation. It’s completely bizarre to me. I’d honestly have understood Moore leaving us for virtually any other higher level team (that was inevitable) but Sheffield Wednesday really confuses me.

I love Andy Butler. He’s from Balby like me, a Rovers fan and an excellent participant in the community work over the years.

I think he was an excellent choice to fill in the hole Moore left. So far, the players seem to be getting behind him and wanting to prove a point to those who departed. This was - to be quite honest - a bit of a shock to me because a lot of these players seemed like they were Moore’s men.

The Crewe result aside - where we were striker-less - we have looked a lot more positive on the ball. Hopefully Butler will become our equivalent of Eddie Howe, but only time will tell.

I’m fairly confident we can get into the play-offs. We only need to win six in our next 15 to get 70 points, which is typically enough to finish sixth at least.

I also think it is written in the stars that James Coppinger on his last game at the club, at Wembley, with fans there for the first time all season, possibly against an ex-manager, will score the winning goal in the play-off final!

Prediction: 1 Lincoln City, 2 Sunderland, 3 Peterborough United, 4 Hull City, 5 Doncaster Rovers, 6 Portsmouth

KIERAN O'MALLEY

From the day Darren Moore was announced as manager of Doncaster Rovers it was inevitable that one day he would be approached by another club and leave.

I just don’t think anyone expected it to happen the way it did. Going from “the safest job in football” to the circus at S6 shocked everyone.

I dare say the next time he’s involved in a game against us, he may well get quite a hostile reception from some fans. His departure hurt more than when Grant McCann left to join Hull and I didn’t think anything could top that. For a man that was so sold on the Club Doncaster ethos and the whole community feel, I thought he was different.

What a chance it is for Andy Butler though. He’s got a completely free hit to do whatever he can from now until the end of the season to put his name firmly in the hat for the job.

He couldn’t have asked for a better start, bringing Copps back into the fold is a masterstroke, keeping three players forward while defending corners shows he’s bringing in his own style. Have we found ourselves our own Paul Warne? The motivation for Butler and the players is simple – prove to Darren Moore why he should never have turned his back on this club.

If performances can continue the way we’ve started under Butler a top six finish is within touching distance.

Prediction: 1 Sunderland, 2 Hull City, 3 Peterborough United, 4 Lincoln City, 5 Doncaster Rovers, 6 Oxford United

MATT TEMPORAL

The timing of Darren Moore’s move to the Owls has left a sour taste in the mouths of Rovers fans. Part of me believed that Moore might stay for a few seasons and build something quite special here.

His eventual move to a bigger club was inevitable. So often you’d see fans of other clubs on social media expressing their surprise that Moore was the manager of ‘little’ Donny Rovers. I’m just disappointed that he’s left before seeing this season out and possibly achieving something great. On top of that, he’s left us for a club who look like they’re going down. But if he gets it right at a club like Wednesdays, it’ll prove to have been a great move for him.

As for Andy Butler, I think it’s great that we have a manager who might just show a bit of loyalty (although you never know). So far under Butler the results have been positive overall but the performances have been a mixed bag. I thought we looked back on form against Pompey but the Plymouth game could’ve gone either way. As for Crewe on Tuesday night, I thought we looked like a completely different team to the one that’s taken us to the play-off places.

I still think we’ll finish in the play-offs but we need to start dominating games again. I feel like we’ve gone from one of the most confident teams in the league to a team that looks like it’s overachieving and happy to be in the top six. But it’s still early days for Butler and he’ll definitely have the fans (and hopefully the players) on his side.

Prediction: 1 Hull City, 2 Lincoln City, 3 Sunderland, 4 Peterborough United, 5 Ipswich Town, 6 Doncaster Rovers