Look at Doncaster Rovers' potential recruitment through realism-tinted glasses: Liam Hoden column

It is the time of the year where supporters are getting itchy, wondering when the first announcement will be.

By Liam Hoden
Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 12:00 pm

A few clubs have already got going, unveiling new faces even before the transfer window officially opens on Monday.

So what will the following eight weeks or so bring for Doncaster Rovers?

With a total of 16 players currently under contract for next season, there is work to be done for Darren Moore - particularly as five of those have six senior appearances between them.

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Darren Moore

Already, social media is ablaze with opinion among supporters of who or what Rovers should be looking to sign, where the club’s ambitions should be taking them

There’s nothing wrong at all with compiling a wishlist, of having thoughts on the direction the club should be going in.

But for this year, at least, it should all be viewed through the filter of realism.

We still do not know the true financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the game, at the level Rovers currently operate.

Talks this week have suggested some clubs are prepared to refuse to play if asked to do so without supporters present - even though the prime minister offered some light at the end of the very dark tunnel on that front.

The cost of Covid-19 testing is said to be the primary concern of the majority of these clubs, reflecting just how perilous the situation has gotten.

Speaking to those in the know, it is surprising that at least one club in the bottom two tiers has not called in the administrators by this stage. It still may not be too far away.

For Rovers, the situation is currently at a manageable level. But the situation continues to be balanced on the metaphorical knife-edge that coronavirus represents.

Manageable has been reached only with very difficult decisions - those made not with expectation or hope that things will be back to normal in the next year but driven by the idea that they won’t be.

Staff were furloughed very early on in the pandemic, others took wage cuts, the players deferred wages.

And that was all before the horrendous suckerpunch of redundancies that have, over the last month, had staff at the club fearing for their jobs in the most difficult of times.

That alone should be enough to tell you that it is not going to be a normal year when it comes to spending.

And there is the question of whether it should be.

What sort of message would it send to commit to paying a salary for a top League One player - the cost of which could have covered at least ten well-paid jobs at the club?

How palatable would that be?

A common theme in the gripes of supporters in recent seasons has been the lack of long term solutions for the club.

Fingers are pointed at an apparent reliance on loan signings. Or that short term contracts have been handed out to players.

Do not expect anything to significantly change on that front this summer. In fact, I would not expect Rovers to move away from that approach at all until we are well clear of this pandemic and its inevitable aftermath.

With the current situation and the financial turmoil of this year, it would be somewhat foolish to tie the club into many long-term liabilities - particularly where the chances of remuneration in the form of opportunities to sell are unlikely.

Expect the majority of deals being done at the club to involve one-year contracts, probably with options to extend weighted towards Rovers.Two-year deals would show some faith from Rovers. Three-year deals would reflect the player being unmissable in market terms.

When it comes to criticism of the use of the loan market, is there much difference between a season-long loan and a one-year contract?

You may get yourself a more seasoned player with a permanent deal, but are you getting one as talented? How many players could Rovers have realistically signed last season that would have rivalled Jacob Ramsey in terms of ability?

The loan market has delivered exceptional value for Rovers in recent years, particularly the last two. Let’s hope for more, because it will be used again and to similar levels to what it was last season.

This will be the summer of ‘whatever it takes’ for Rovers, like so many clubs up and down the country. Belts tightening, cloth being cut accordingly.

But there should not be concern that it will be the summer of ‘whatever will do.’

Too much time and thought goes into recruitment for it simply to be thrown away. And with every penny being vital, it would be reckless to go about it in anything other than the most precise of manners.

It will not be a season for Rovers to ‘have a go,’ to spend big or to abandon the careful and considered approach to spending they have adopted in recent years.

So, when it comes to levels of expectation during this transfer window, make sure those realism-tinted glasses are firmly in place as you gaze into the middle distance and wonder what might be.


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