Dave Craven: Pressure is quickly on Duffy to entertain at Featherstone Rovers

Announcement of the new head coach for Featherstone Rover John Duffy. Pictured During the press conference with left, Davide Longo, General Manager, and Right, Mark Campbell, Chairman of Featherstone Rover.
Announcement of the new head coach for Featherstone Rover John Duffy. Pictured During the press conference with left, Davide Longo, General Manager, and Right, Mark Campbell, Chairman of Featherstone Rover.
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I HAVE to admit that, like many, I thought Mark Campbell had lost his marbles when sacking Featherstone Rovers coach Jon Sharp.

That is saying something as the affable Rovers chairman is already not averse to making bold changes in his hierarchy.

Let’s not forget he relieved John Bastian of duties in 2014 after just 11 games at Post Office Road.

His replacement Andy Hay lasted 13 months but was then axed just five days after vanquishing Championship leaders Bradford Bulls and becoming the first side to beat the relegated Super League side at Odsal that term. Experienced former Huddersfield Giants chief Sharp, meanwhile, had recently secured them a place in the lucrative Qualifiers.

Admittedly, Sunday’s home loss against Halifax was poor but, in the big scheme of things, it was largely inconsequential for Featherstone who could still secure an extremely creditable third place with a win in Toulouse tonight.

For a part-time side, that is certainly not a bad achievement especially when you consider Sharp had also led them to the top-four 12 months ago, too.

So, from the outside looking in, it seemed harsh. It probably is.

However, when unveiling John Duffy as his new man on Tuesday, it was interesting listening to Campbell.

He thought it was the poorest Featherstone side to watch he had seen in the last 10 years even though it was actually the best squad assembled under his watch.

Now, we all know playing attractive football is no guarantee of success and silverware. But it got me thinking; if you have invested as much money into one club as Campbell has at Post Office Road, surely it is a base requirement to be able to actually glean some pleasure when watching on a Sunday afternoon?

The owner wants to be entertained. I get it. He desired more finesse, more guile and he expects Duffy – who won fans for the style of football he has fostered at Swinton – to deliver.

Asking regular Championship watchers if Swinton are really that impressive with their attack, the consensus coming back was that, yes, they are.

That’s great for Fev fans who may see Duffy, the ex-Warrington half-back, adopt a more attractive approach in the weeks ahead.

Yet some have countered that their side aren’t actually that boring either. Opinions, opinions, no right, no wrong.

Where I can’t agree with Campbell is his assertion that second-place was Featherstone’s realistic target this season.

Hull KR were always favourites for top but he reeled off sides like Batley and Dewsbury before remembering the credentials of London Broncos, one of four full-time teams in the division. Maybe he discovered Sharp had given the squad time off ahead of the Qualifiers. Most clubs will no doubt do the same with a free weekend due to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

However, understandably, Campbell wanted his to step up preparations rather than put their feet up especially as they lost all seven Qualifiers in 2016.

Who knows, they may even shock their way into the Million Pound Game?

But what is certain after such a drastic intervention is that young coach Duffy is under pressure immediately, pretty football or not.