Rovers return will be memory jogger

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WHEN he returns to Bristol tomorrow it will serve as a small reminder for Rotherham United assistant manager Darren Patterson of the time when he left the ranks of the unemployed.

In a total of 26 years, as player, coach and manager, Patterson has been out of work for just four months.

It was at Bristol Rovers - where the Millers go tomorrow - that Patterson got back into the game after that brief spell on the sidelines.

He’d been youth coach at Oxford United but had been caretaker manager once and permanent manager twice although ‘permanent’ is probably the wrong word for one occasion.

“They gave me the manager’s job at Oxford but what I did not know was that two weeks beforehand, the chairman had sold the club but given me a two and a half year deal,” chuckled Patterson who joined Rotherham from Rovers in June.

“The new chairman - who was a fantastic bloke - came in and had Jim Smith lined up to come in and take charge.”

Patterson stayed on and, after Smith’s departure, eventually became manager of a much more ‘permanent’ nature than the previous occasion before getting that first taste of unemployment some 18 months later.

Then, in May two years ago, he got the call to go to Bristol Rovers with a brief to restructure the entire youth set-up.

“I knew Lennie Lawrence (the manager at the time), I knew the club and what they were trying to do....they were trying to structure it from the college system back to a proper youth system and I’d got a very good history with that and so I got the job and was back in work.

“It’s taken a couple of years but it’s paying dividends now. They’re top of their (youth) league and have four or five kids who, in my opinion, will go on to Premiership clubs.

“But it was two bloody hard years of graft and getting the right people in because we restructured the whole thing from nine years up to 18s and it’s a proper set-up.”

He says that it will take a manager who is brave enough to give youngsters their opportunity but one or two of those who began coming through at the top range of the age group, could well be involved against Rotherham tomorrow.

“I’m looking forward to going back there; it’s a big club with big ambitions, very friendly staff, fantastic people behind the scenes,” says the 41-year-old who was born in Belfast.

“The fans are very passionate but very demanding which is as it should be and I’ll know what to expect on Friday.”

Positive news for skipper Ryan Cresswell after his latest ankle examination. No surgery was planned - which would have meant a lengthy spell out - but he is still expected to be sidelined for at least a further month.

The club won’t pursue Alasanne N’Diaye, ex-Palace, who played in the reserves’ 5-0 loss at Hartlepool on Monday.