'The goal would have been to gatecrash it' - Darren Moore reflects on the 2019/20 season for Doncaster Rovers
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Throughout the 2019/20 campaign, Moore would brush off any talk of a push for the play-offs and insist he and his players were only focused on the next game.
But after the season was curtailed, the Rovers boss has offered some suggestion at least that the top six was always in his sights.
“We were well on our way to what we wanted to achieve,” Moore told the Free Press.
“The goal would have been to get in the play-offs and gatecrash it.
“Looking back on it, I’ve got nothing but optimism.
“Looking at the season, I felt that we were on track to achieve what we wanted to, whether you’re looking at a points tally or anything like that. We were going with that.
“I’ve got no complaints.
“It’s difficult to fully surmise it fully because we had ten games to go and 30 points still to play for.
“We had it all to play for. The team was in good form.
“It ticked all the right boxes in terms of a positive campaign for Rovers.
“Now it’s about what we learn from it and what we can get right in the time we have to plan for the next season.”
But he will head into the coming campaign with positivity following his first season in charge of the club, particularly with the manner in which his side overcame adversity.
“There were times over the season when we had 12 or 13 senior players available. But we were getting results.
“I had four or five U23s on the bench regularly at one point, when I was only getting a Matty Blair or a Madger Gomes on there.
“We were threadbare with the squad. In terms of that, we’ve managed and achieved massive things.”
Moore is full of praise for all those players who contributed through the campaign, particularly the way in which they adapted quickly after his arrival with the start of the season less than three weeks away.
And he says there was genuine disappointment among the group that they were denied the opportunity to complete the job on the pitch.
“They were all desperate to try to come back,” the 46-year-old said.
“They wanted to come back to finish the season. They were really looking forward to getting back in.
“They kept up their individual training and the programme we’d put forward. I’m sure there is a tinge of disappointment.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for them in terms of what they’ve done this season and how they’ve gone about it.
“From where the team was at and how we’ve changed things. And what was asked of them and how they’ve adapted and received that.
“I thought they did really well in terms of how they performed and what was asked of them.
“We met the challenges of the league and what was put in front of us.
“They’ve got great togetherness and you need that if you’re going to be successful.
“I’ve been really pleased with the players and how it all came together at such short notice.
“We performed even after the setbacks through the season and just dusted ourselves down.”
Asked if there were any disappointments through the season, Moore addressed the question in typical fashion.
“You can’t talk about disappointments along the way because it’s about what you’ve learned from them and what can you put into practice now, for the next campaign,” he said.
“It will always be about constant improvement.
“What I’m looking for is a team that tries to max out what we’re about and a club that tries to max out where they are.
“If we can look at it in terms of next season, what improvements can be made?
“The players have done superb but we ain’t standing still. You have to move again.
“There’s going to be questions asked again. That goes right across the field.
“If there’s an individual looking at this and thinking ‘he’s not talking about me’, they’ll get caught out. I’m saying it across the board.
“We’ve all got to improve and keep moving.
“There was hard work done for this campaign but there is going to be even more hard work done for the next one in terms of going forward.
“That’s how it’s got to be. You’ve always got to strive to make those improvements and that’s the way it’s got to be at the football club.
“We drove and demanded that. It’ll be no different for the new campaign.”
And the goal for the next campaign? You can expect a familiar answer when the time for that question comes around.