Passionate Doncaster Rovers boss talks getting time, improvement and social media criticism

Richie Wellens is convinced Doncaster Rovers’ poor start to the season will be a distant memory once he has a full complement of players to select from and things begin to click.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 6:00 am
Richie Wellens

In an empassioned discussion about results so far for injury-hit Rovers, Wellens insists he and his players should only be judged when he is able to field his strongest team.

“I get the results are not good enough,” he said. “And I take that because I’m responsible for the results on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

“I’m not scared of getting the sack, because I know what football is all about.

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“But I haven’t had the opportunity to play remotely near my strongest team and we’ve had tough opposition.

“It’s swings and roundabouts, the season will change for us, these players will come back and we’ll get opposition that is not of the calibre of some of the teams we’ve played so far.

“But give me an opportunity with my best team.

“Give me ten or 12 games with my best team on the pitch and we’ll see where we are and how we go forward.”

Stressing the need for time was a big part of Wellens’ comments on the current situation at Rovers.

And he admitted he feels confident he will get that from the club’s hierarchy.

He said: “The chairman and Gavin [Baldwin, CEO] have been great. They’ve been so supportive because they realise where we are at the moment.

“Our performances at times have been really good, without creativity and without end product in the final third.

“I think with the front three we had on Tuesday, you saw signs of that. Rotherham have got a really good defensive record and we had four one-on-ones in the game. It shows we’re doing something right, even if the scoreline was embarrassing in the end.

“We just need time.

“Look at Paul Cook. He’s a fantastic manager and if you say to anyone who is the best manager in League One, in my opinion it would be Paul Cook.

“He’s gone to Ipswich and he’s not won a game this season, spent an absolute fortune, only won a few last season. This is not me chucking him under the bus because I think he’s the best manager in the league.

“Paul Cook, being at one of the biggest clubs in the league and spending a load of money, he needs time. So does Richie Wellens at Doncaster.

“I’ve spent a fraction of his budget. Do I need time? Absolutely.”

Rovers head to Wigan Athletic this weekend having picked up just one point from their opening five league matches - and scoring just a single goal.

Wellens intends to add a free agent centre half to his group to cover injuries as soon as possible, after welcoming striker Joe Dodoo earlier this week.

And he reiterated that teething problems were to be expected, given the scale of the renovation of the squad this summer, along with the absences since pre-season.

“I didn’t come to this club to win promotion this year,” he said.

“I looked at the squad at the time and said it’s a rebuild season and it needs to take time.

“The calibre of the clubs that are at this level, promotion for anyone is going to be really tough.

“I do believe that when we come through this, it’ll be a distant memory.

“I really do think that we’re a good team when we get everybody back.

“I’ve come in this summer, I’ve had a certain budget to work with and I’ve done my very best to get what I can get with that.

“I do think we’re a couple short, or we have been.

“We’ll get a centre half in, we’ve got Joe Dodoo in and I think we’re not in a bad position when everyone is fit.”

Wellens dismissed criticism of his tenure so far which has risen up on social media in the past few weeks.

And he said he is under no illusions about the start to the season Rovers have made.

“I don’t go on social media,” Wellens said.

“When I was a player, people would tell me how good I was. If I played indifferent, people would say how ever am I a professional footballer. And those people have never played a game of professional football in their lives.

“I take it all with a pinch of salt.

“I’m a big enough person to know that results haven’t been good enough.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.