PAUL DICKOV is adamant that Doncaster Rovers must shape their own survival destiny at Leicester City this lunch-time – and that he will not be asking for a big favour from his good friend Dougie Freedman.
Rovers, fourth from bottom in the Championship, face a nerve-shredding final-day assignment for the second season running, as they bid to avoid accompanying Barnsley into League One.
If Rovers win, they are safe. Failing that, they must match what third-from-bottom Birmingham City do at Freedman’s Bolton.
If they draw and the Blues win, Rovers could also still clinch safety if Millwall lose by two clear goals at home to Bournemouth.
Rovers’ final-day trip to the King Power Stadium is handed extra spice by Dickov and captain Richie Wellens returning to their old club, with the former admitting that Foxes chief Nigel Pearson has been instrumental in shaping his own managerial ethos.
While Rovers’ mission is all about staying in the division, Leicester will be celebrating come what may at the end of the game when they will be presented with the Championship trophy, with Pearson’s side also aiming to become just the 11th team to reach 100 points or more in a season – they are currently on 99.
Dickov is concentrating strictly on his own business and has revealed that he has not been asking for a spot of help from fellow Scot, friend and neighbour Freedman, who lives nearby in Cheshire with some of their children having previously been at school together.
On asking for a favour from Freedman, Dickov said: “It would be nice, I am not going to kid you... But Dougie is a proper football man and professional and it would be very disrespectful for me to ask Dougie to do anything in regards to that game as Lee Clark is a top man as well.
“Lee is someone I have known for a long, long time and regardless of what happens away from everything else, he has done a fantastic job at Birmingham. So I am not going to be asking anyone for any favours. I need to concentrate on what is happening here.
“I want to do it off my own back, absolutely. We will take it any which way it comes, but we want to do it ourselves.
“I am not planning for relegation, I can tell people that right now.”
Rovers’ fate may be in the balance this afternoon but Dickov is confident that whatever happens he will be leading the club next season, having held positive talks regarding the future with chief executive Gavin Baldwin.
Operating with one of the smallest budgets in the Championship, the former Oldham chief, on a rolling contract, has impressed many in his first season managing at this level and says he has barely scratched the surface in what he wants to achieve.
That said, he is under no illusions that many futures are at stake even though the Rovers manager says he would only be worried if his players were not feeling slightly nervous ahead of the game.
Regarding his own future, he added: “I am really confident. We have had conversations and every one I have had is about moving the club forward and building something and doing it together.
“Myself and Gavin are really close and have lots of conversations and I am confident I will be here next season.
“I think if we are being honest a lot of players’ futures do depend on today. What division we are in will determine what budget we have got next year.
“But my mentality is and the way I was brought up through football is that you play for your future all the time and that includes training.
“I don’t think nerves are a bad thing, and as a player and even a manager, I’d get worried if I wasn’t a bit nervous before a game. People who say they don’t get nervous are lying. It shows a human side to you sometimes. As long as it’s translated in a positive way, having a bit of nerves is a good thing.
“I knew it would be a difficult season purely because of the clubs in the division and the quality and resources other teams have got. But the one thing I have always done is believe we could stay up. We have got ourselves in a position where it’s in our own hands. If we finish outside of the bottom three, it will have been a massive success.”
Leeds United end their campaign at home to Derby, relegated Barnsley host QPR and Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough visit Watford, Ipswich and Yeovil, respectively.
Former chairman John Ryan interview: Back page.