Why Sean O'Driscoll thought new Doncaster Rovers boss Richie Wellens was destined for management

Former Doncaster Rovers boss Sean O’Driscoll has long been convinced that Richie Wellens is management material.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 12:15 pm

Wellens was confirmed as the new Rovers manager on Monday morning, following in the footsteps of the man under whom he flourished as a player at the Keepmoat in the late 00s.

And from what he saw on the training ground during those years, O’Driscoll was confident Wellens would be a success should he opt to pursue a management career.

“I’m going to say something now that people will say ‘it’s easy to say it now’ but I did,” he told the Free Press.

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Sean O'Driscoll and Richie Wellens
Sean O'Driscoll and Richie Wellens

“I remember saying to a couple of people that he will surprise people.

“When I was involved with Oldham he’d asked me to put in a word for him.

“I said to them that he might not have experience as a manager at the time but he’s got a lot of experience in football. I think he will surprise a few people and if you give him a chance he will be a pleasant surprise.

“In hindsight Oldham was probably not the right job for him because they went through managers like you wouldn’t believe.

“I think his experience as a player and playing under managers that got the best out of him, I thought he would take that into his own management and develop it himself and do the same.

“Whether that’s League Two or the Premier League, he’d get a bunch of players and try to get the best out of them.

“I think he’ll be really shrewd at doing it.”

Wellens’ managerial career began at Oldham Athletic in 2017. While he made a valiant effort to keep the troubled club in League One, he was dismissed following relegation.

He joined Swindon Town and in his first full season guided them to the League Two title. The 41-year-old moved to Salford City last November but was sacked in March.

O’Driscoll signed the midfielder for Rovers in 2007 and described him as ‘first class’ in what he produced for the club.

“He was a bit of a jack the lad when he played,” he said.

“I remember watching him at Blackpool, getting frustrated with everybody and everything and getting himself sent off and doing silly things.

“He was available on a free and I remember ringing him up, asking if he’d be interested.

“He’d got a contract agreed with another club, a bigger club, and I just said we were interested. He rang me back and said the other deal had fallen through and asked if we still wanted him.

“He’s another one that if you give him a little bit of responsibility and ownership over the way he wants to play and he was first class.

“He never missed training. He hardly missed a game and he was always there, contributing. He fitted in the jigsaw with like-minded people and became a great player.

“We had nothing to do with his ability. That was always there but we perhaps gave him the opportunity to display it more.”

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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.