Richie Wellens was 'unlucky' but Doncaster Rovers 'needed a fresh voice' - CEO

Doncaster Rovers chief executive Gavin Baldwin believes Richie Wellens was unlucky during his time as manager.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 4:00 pm
Richie Wellens

But he insists a fresh voice was needed after the team appeared to lose its fight.

Wellens was dismissed last week after only eight months in charge, with Rovers sitting second bottom in League One after picking up just three wins in 19 league matches.

A horrendous injury record robbed him of key players during his tenure - a situation which Baldwin says would have been challenging to any manager.

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“We’ve spoken to many people in football while looking to secure a replacement and one of them said something that struck a chord with me,” he told the Free Press.

“At any one time there are good managers, bad managers and unlucky managers.

“I’d put Richie firmly in the unlucky manager category.

“He genuinely wasn’t making excuses. He was giving explanations when we talked about injuries, the poor pre-season with Covid.

“I think any manager would struggle with the injuries we’ve had this season.

“Richie was adamant and we supported and agreed with him that we’ve got a strong first XI with some depth but he’s never had that. He never picked the same team two games consecutively.

“Having said that, in the game against Crewe the board, the fans and everyone would have wanted to see more fight, irrespective of the players on the pitch.L

“That is why the change was made.”

Baldwin revealed that Rovers were exploring various options to provide support for Wellens if he was to remain as manager.

But the manner of the defeat to Crewe Alexandra in the Papa John’s Trophy - which proved to be his final game in charge - compelled them to act.

“The intention of the board with all managers, and indeed Richie, is to the support them and look internally to how we can do that,” he said.

“Conversations had been ongoing about a support network for Richie to give ourselves the best chance in January and therefore staying in the league.

“That support network could be additional staff, whether that be a mentor, a director of football, head of football operations, a defensive coach, set piece coach.

“All those conversations were going on.

“But I think the game against Crewe and the way we lost that game meant the board thought, if we were going to make a change the time was right to give ourselves the best chance in January.

“The body language of the players and the manner of the defeat meant that probably tipped the balance.

“We spoke to Richie who was absolutely brilliant. He was a gentleman about it and understood that maybe we needed a fresh voice in there.

“That was in the intention going forward.”

Baldwin praised Wellens for his reaction to his dismissal.

“When we spoke to Richie, he was almost supportive of us in knowing that we needed to make a decision,” he said.

“He said he’d found it tough since the Lincoln game. I’m not saying it was a relief to him because that would be unfair.

“But he did understand the decision, he’s been brilliant ever since and he would still help us in any way he could with advice, guidance etc.

“It wasn’t an easy decision and he didn’t make it an easy decision with how good he was about it.”

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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.