Richie Wellens: 'In hindsight I shouldn't have taken the Doncaster Rovers job'

Richie Wellens said he made a mistake in taking the Doncaster Rovers job after being unveiled as Leyton Orient’s new head coach.

By Paul Goodwin
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 1:35 pm

The 41-year-old was confirmed as Kenny Jackett’s successor yesterday and signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the League Two strugglers.

Wellens was dismissed by Rovers at the start of December following a problematic six-month reign which produced just six wins from 26 games in all competitions.

“With Covid, and them having to recoup the losses that they lost from Covid, that was a really tough situation,” said Wellens, reflecting on his time at Rovers.

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“I probably made a mistake in going to Doncaster if I’m being honest. I let my heart rule my head. There were a lot of red flags there.

“But it was a club that I loved and I had a great time there as a player and I had a great relationship with the fans so it was very difficult for me to turn down in terms of being a club that was definitely pulling on my heartstrings.

“In hindsight I shouldn’t have done it.”

Wellens’ appointment last summer signalled a fresh start after a cataclysmic collapse coinciding with the departures of captain Ben Whiteman and manager Darren Moore saw Rovers slide out of promotion contention to finish 14th in League One last season.

Richie Wellens. Photo: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

However, the former Oldham Athletic, Swindon Town and Salford City boss struggled to make any visible impact on an injury-hit squad and a relegation battle ensued.

Wellens, sacked on December 2, was replaced by youth team boss Gary McSheffrey later that month.

“My remit from when I went in there, if you look at all the old newspaper clippings from last summer, was that it was a transitional period and just to keep the club up,” said Wellens. “The budget reflected in that.

“But then the amount of injuries that we had, that definitely toughened me up because I think in that period I probably coached at my best. But when you’re going up against clubs like Ipswich, Sunderland and some really big clubs it was very difficult to compete.

“If you look at before I went in at Doncaster the club had won three in 24 and you look at them since I’ve left, it’s just a really difficult job for anybody to go in there.

“As I alluded to before, the red flags were there and probably in hindsight I shouldn’t have taken it.”

He added: “No one likes losing football matches especially at a club I had a really good relationship with.

"For the first seven league games I never had a fit centre forward and I never had a fit winger and the club never went out and supported me in terms of getting a player in to replace the injured lads who obviously couldn’t give us any attacking options.

"Nobody likes losing football matches but you reflect on it and move forward. I’ve only been a manager for four and a half years and I do think it’s made me stronger. I think I’m more of a rounded manager now.”

Orient lie 20th in League Two, four points above the relegation zone.

"He's a young, vibrant coach with character and we're delighted to have him on board," said Orient’s director of football Martin Ling.

"There has been a long-term admiration for him and he was one of the potential candidates we spoke to last summer, however the Doncaster job came up and he let us know he wouldn't be put through to the next round.

"The way he plays the game is something we like - an attack-minded coach with a team on the front foot, his teams work hard, both offensively and defensively."