Rick Lavender: Watershed moment for ‘complacent’ Doncaster Rovers

Chief executive Gavin Baldwin, Darren Ferguson and chairman David Blunt
Chief executive Gavin Baldwin, Darren Ferguson and chairman David Blunt
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Now that the fateful day has arrived and we have returned to the lowest tier of English league football, I feel that all loyal Rovers fans are entitled to a public apology from the board and team management after the complacent and ineffective way our team has been managed since January 2.

I have supported Rovers since 1964 so I am used to seeing my team perform in the bottom division but it is embarrassing to see us relegated this season from the weakest League One in living memory.

Picture by Phil Ryan

Picture by Phil Ryan

I was at Southend on January 2 to witness the fine display that day but, as all of us who go home and away every week knew, eight points above the relegation zone was never enough given our obvious deficiencies.

The January owners forum set the complacent tone for the remainder of the season. Given the proliferation of cheap goals conceded it was puzzling to hear the manager endorse the quality of our defenders and did not feel the need to strengthen in that area.

All the talk at the meeting was of next season despite the fact the previous two games had seen poor results against Fleetwood and Port Vale.

As the club was obviously in denial as regards the possibility of relegation, this led to player recruitment which was totally inadequate for the fight which we were soon to be dragged into.

I have not mentioned players’ names because it is unfair to point the finger at loan players who were brought in by the manager to a situation for which they were ill-equipped.

The manager refused to accept the possibility of relegation until it was too late, at which stage more suitable players suddenly became available. If he had been more aware sooner, surely part of his job, then just maybe the situation may have been different.

Over the 46 game season the worst teams go down. We have failed to beat the three other teams relegated with us over the last six weeks. That speaks volumes.

The club is now at a watershed. Season ticket sales (I have already renewed for me and my son) will hit a Keepmoat low unless prices are reduced, which will obviously reduce our income and affect our ability to attract the better players.

The board has to decide which way they wish to take the club and speak openly to the fans. Next season is the most important since we re-entered the Football League and will define our future.

Do they have the ambition to kick-start the club to rise back up and if so what are they prepared to do to make this happen?

Is the current manager capable of constructing a team to be successful in League Two when he has been incapable of keeping us in a sub-standard League One?

Can they prove to the loyal fans of Doncaster Rovers that they are proper football people who understand what is required to progress? We know they have been financially astute to keep us on an even keel but now more football savvy is required if we are not to disappear into the wilderness.

Rick Lavender, Swinton

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