James Coppinger sets his stall out as Doncaster Rovers face up to relegation

James Coppinger says actions must start speaking louder than words at Doncaster Rovers.

By Paul Goodwin
Sunday, 1st May 2022, 6:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st May 2022, 7:00 pm

Rovers will be back in League Two next season after their inevitable relegation was confirmed on Saturday.

Coppinger, Rovers’ newly-appointed head of football operations, believes an “accumulation of a lot of things” has led to the drop.

But the 41-year-old is confident he can help turn around the club’s ailing fortunes and change a losing culture – and for a start he wants words to be put into actions.

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James Coppinger

“There’s no hiding place and the facts are it hasn’t been good enough,” Coppinger said in an in-house interview with Rovers’ media team.

"I genuinely feel like it’s an accumulation of a lot of things. It’s not just one thing.

"We’ve been drowning all season and we’ve not been able to get our head out of the water if you like. A few times we’ve taken a few breaths but unfortunately it’s not been good enough.

"There’s been quite a lot of negative momentum surrounding the club on and off the pitch and I believe that needs to stop.

"We need to slow that down and we need to turn it into positive momentum.

"We need to start acting. People talk a lot. People will say this interview is just words. But I genuinely feel that we need to start putting actions to those words – not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well.

"That’s where we are. We have to park what’s happened, although it’s been tough. We can’t affect that now, we can only look forward to the future.

"There’s a lot of good things happening here, there’s a lot of good people, staff and players that want to do well for this football club.”

From February last year onwards, Rovers’ form has effectively dropped off a cliff.

They have won just 17 of their last 77 games in all competitions, culminating in a second relegation to League Two in the space of six years.

Rovers say they have created Coppinger’s new role following a review into football operations and hope the club legend can provide identity, continuity and stability.

"Momentum is huge in football and not just on the football pitch,” said Coppinger.

"For the last 15 months it feels like, both on and off the pitch, just when you think things are going to turn there’s another disappointment or another setback and before you know it we are where we are.

"I believe that putting this role in place is a huge starting place. It’s a huge building block in terms of where we want to go.

"And then it’s about slowly moving forward.

"Everybody’s going to have to buy into it and not’s going to be easy because not everybody will want to.

"But ultimately it’s about staying together, focusing on where we want to go and what we want to do and then acting and delivering every single day.

“We can talk all we want but it’s about coming in every single day as a group, as a staff and as a club and acting on it and being consistent.

"The best manager I worked for is Sean O’Driscoll and the biggest compliment I can give him is that he was consistent with everything that he did every single day, regardless of whether you liked it or not.

"There was consistent messages and I believe that is key to starting something special.”

Since Coppinger was appointed just over a week ago, Rovers have parted company with talent identification manager Graham Younger.

Chairman David Blunt effectively gave manager Gary McSheffrey a vote of confidence in a statement released shortly after relegation was confirmed.

No fewer than 13 out of contract players will find out this week if Rovers plan to retain or release them.