'It’s not like an on-off tap. You’ve got to keep engaged'- Doncaster Rovers boss Darren Moore on life in lockdown as a football manager
One phrase regularly departs the mouth of Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Moore.
“We’ve still got plenty of work to do.”
The Rovers boss has been determined to eke out every small bit of improvement in his side at any given opportunity since his arrival at the club last summer.
He is typically the last one out of Cantley Park, remaining in his office for much of the day to plan and prepare for what may lie ahead.
The shutdown of the football due to the Covid-19 pandemic has taken some getting accustomed to for the workaholic 46-year-old.
“It’s been difficult because we’re all creatures of habit,” he told the Free Press.
“Last weekend it would have been the last game of the season at Blackpool and where would that have put Doncaster Rovers? Who knows?
“The form we were showing at the time - it was difficult to switch the mind off from that but obviously understandable.”
With his players remaining on furlough and yet to hear of a definitive end point for the current campaign, getting used to life away from work has been essential for Moore.
But he says the balance between switching off and staying ready has been difficult to find.
“Once you have managed to switch off, you’ve still got to keep one eye on things and keep mentally focused because you just have to,” he said.
“At this moment in time nobody knows what the outcome is going to be. Mentally you’ve got to keep engaged in it because if you haven’t got that, how can you keep everything else engaged?
“You’ve got to try to keep some focus but you’ve also got your mind telling you that there’s nothing going on.
“It’s been funny and surreal in that sense. It’s been difficult where you find yourself switching off, then reminding yourself you need to stay focused and keep engaged.
“If they were to announce in the next two weeks that we are going back, you’ve got to be in some sort of mental capacity to pick it back up and go again.
“It’s not like an on-off tap. You’ve got to keep engaged.
“Usually out of season, you switch off in a way, whereas in season you’re very much on. This one is a real inbetween.
“There is so much hearsay around it. You’ve got to keep your mind focused until they decide to tell you something different.”
When it comes to keeping himself occupied through lockdown, Moore is no different than the rest of the population.
But the day to day business of football management has been parked for the time being.
He said: “Men and women up and down the country have all been able to do the same thing and that’s getting stuck into things at home that they’ve not been able to do for years.
“It’s been quite therapeutic in a way, just getting on with things like that.
“Now that’s been finished, you can rest and evaluate because you don’t really get that opportunity usually. It’s one thing I’ve been able to do in this time - recharge the mind and rest the body.
“You can’t really speak to the agents. You’re switched on from the online apps, looking at players on Wyscout. There’s nothing you can do with it.
“You have no idea of what route you’re going to be able to go down or what the game is going to go down so it’s better to switch it off, refrain from it and keeping your eyes fixed and focused on what you have.
“Agents might be ringing around, telling you about this player or that but it’s pointless talking to them because you’re only speculating. My mind has not even wandered that way, it’s been focused on the team, the staff and the football club and my personal family life, getting things done and keeping myself energised.
“I’ve found that has worked and we’ll wait and see what these next couple of weeks bring to see where we’ll be and what will happen next.
“Then, if they are to bring us back for the rest of the season, you’re ready to contend and contest the remainder. Those are things I’ve channeled my thoughts into, keeping in that bubble and not looking too far beyond.
“And it’s just about making sure I’m keeping the finger on the pulse at the football club. Everybody, staff and players, are all okay and the wider community of Doncaster too.
“We are Club Doncaster and this is a surreal time for all of us. We’re all in it together.
“When you come of it, you settle down and it’s been a good time.
“I think all of us will have seen that benefit of having that time.
“We’ve been moulded as a society that is 100mph. We’re all been forced to stop, recuperate and reevaluate.
“We’ve been given time to think and focus on other things that you haven’t had that amount of time for.
“It’s been a real good opportunity to do that and I think people will appreciate things differently when we all start up again.”