Passionate Frank Sinclair on his whirlwind few months at Doncaster Rovers and dynamic with boss Gary McSheffrey

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It did not take Frank Sinclair long to make a big impression when stepping up to assist Gary McSheffrey at Doncaster Rovers.

The former Chelsea defender has certainly been an animated presence in the technical area since taking the assistant manager position, initially on a caretaker basis, at the start of December.

It has been in stark contrast to the more stoic figure cut by McSheffrey but Sinclair insists there is no difference between the passion levels of the pair with the task at hand.

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“On a matchday, I’m very focused on the defensive side of the team and making sure we’re organised,” he explained to the Free Press. “Even when we’re on top in games I’m always aware things can change very quickly at the click of a finger so I’m always at the defenders to make sure they’re organised, they’re not ball-watching and that side of it.

Frank SinclairFrank Sinclair
Frank Sinclair

“I do look more active on the sidelines because of that and Gaz is focused on the whole team and the attacking play.

“With the attacking play you don’t have to give as much advice because you want them to express themselves in the opposition half.

“I think we’re a lot calmer in training.

“We’re both very competitive in our different ways.

“The lads in general apply themselves really well in training so it’s not a case of getting on them all the time.

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“They’re starting to take on board the values we need in training and practices. It’s just about getting messages across and being more organised in training.

“Myself and Gary are both very adaptable and we take each day as it is.

“We’re in regular contact with each other and sharing ideas of how to improve the club on and off the pitch.

“My job is to make Gaz as good a manager as possible and I adapt myself to every situation which improves the gaffer and gets what he needs out of training and games.

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“It’s very much not about us, it’s about the players and getting the performances out of them that gets the results to keep in the league.

His rise to the assistant manager role was a swift one for Sinclair, who had only arrived at the club in October to lead the U16 group.

“There’s good people in the academy who made me feel very welcome very quickly,” he said. “It wasn’t hard to find my feet working with the likes of Tony Mee and Tony Cook, guiding me and letting me know the values of the football club.

“It came around quickly with me moving into the first team set up with Gary but I felt I’d settled in quickly and had a good relationship building with the gaffer from when I was coming into the U18s to help him there.

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“The transition to the first team, we’re still learning about each other as coaches and individuals and what we bring to the table.

“But also we’ve got to learn about every individual player, what makes them tick, how we get the best out of them.

“I feel we’ve come a long way and we’ve got a good understanding about the group now.

“Hopefully that will show in performances and results going forward.”

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Getting to know the intricacies of each individual player was the primary goal when Sinclair and McSheffrey suddenly found themselves tasked with guiding the first team following the dismissal of Richie Wellens as boss.

Taking charge of a deep embedded deep in the relegation zone and woefully short of positive form was never going to be a simple task but it was clear to the pair where the initial focus should be.

“Initially, when you’ve not won many games, it’s a confidence issue that you’ve got to anticipate when you come into the building, especially with such a young group available to us because of the injuries at the club,” Sinclair said. “We knew there would be different ways of getting that confidence back into the players - training hard, working hard when you’re in.

“The few that might need an arm around them and picking up that way, we had to be cautious of that but at the same time we knew here was a lot of organisation needed on and off the pitch.

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“How we set ourselves up in training every day, how we get information across to the players, get us more organised.

“I’m fairly confident with the time that we’ve got and the amount of games that we’ve got, there will be a massive difference.

“We’re starting to see that now and it’s about sustaining those levels in the ways the manager has spoken about, running, being fit, being hard to beat.

“Once we start scoring goals on a regular basis, even more confidence will come into the team.”

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Last weekend’s win at MK Dons felt like a potential turning point in Rovers’ survival push.

From Sinclair there is familiar talk of maintaining standards and making subtle improvements to build on the good work carried out in the last few weeks in order to drive a concerted effort to climb up the table.

“Saturday at MK Dons was the first time we’ve put in a sustained 90 minute performance and we’ve got the rewards from it,” he said. “There’s been spells in games where we’ve looked good but then at the same time shown naivety.

“That’s something we’ll always be addressing between now and the end of the season, and we’re just trying to keep those high standards in the team.

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“There’s some talented players in there and we don’t want to take away the individual ability of those that are in the squad or take the strengths out of their games. But we just need to be more difficult to beat so we can get the points we deserve.”


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.

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