Doncaster Rovers boss Darren Moore relieved to swap sofa for the dugout

Yesterday Darren Moore was finally back in training at Doncaster Rovers after a fortnight holed up in his South Yorkshire apartment after coming into contact with a coronavirus sufferer.
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Moore. Picture: PADoncaster Rovers manager Darren Moore. Picture: PA
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Moore. Picture: PA

Now he knows what it is like to be a football fan during covid, watching on television but surreally receiving a running commentary at times that was ahead of his pictures.

It was not just Moore, but fellow coaches Jamie Smith and Paul Gerrard who had to self-isolate. It could easily have derailed a side that yesterday saw on-loan goalkeeper Josef Bursik recalled by Stoke City.

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Instead Doncaster put on an assured performance to beat FC United of Manchester 5-1 in the FA Cup, followed by a 2-1 Football League Trophy defeat to a Wolverhampton Wanderers side whose goals came from £35m Fabio Silva. The team was taken by centre-back Andy Butler who doubles as the club’s women’s team manager.

“I’m very full-on but I like the individual to work so when I spoke with Buts he would give me a skeleton overview of what he wanted to do in training and I’d want him to go and do it because ultimately I want him to feel confident in terms of what he’s doing and delivering it his way,” said Moore, back in the dugout for tomorrow’s League One visit of Sunderland. “After training we spoke at length about what was done and how the players looked.

“I said to Andy he knew how we worked, the structure, the philosophies, the style of play, the training sessions. It was a great insight into Andy’s adaptability and know-how. He really enjoyed it.

“It was a great insight for him too so I think it was a win-win.”

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Moore admits watching from the sofa was strange. “It’s incredible,” he said. “Here I am as Doncaster Rovers manager watching my team on TV. It doesn’t quite make sense!

“You pick the phone up and speak to the analysis man at the game and in 40 seconds what he’s telling you about happens.

“I must say how proud and honoured I was to see the team perform that way in a game live on TV.

“I was seeing patterns of play that were very pleasing and an attitude that was excellent.”

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Defender Joe Wright says a potentially hugely disruptive period was pretty seamless.

“Buts said in our team WhatsApp group we had to drive each other,” he revealed. “It would be very easy for lads to take their foot off the gas but that wasn’t the case. We’ve come out of it unscathed, really, which is a credit to Buts and Bucko (his Belles assistant, Nick Buxton), who stepped in on a match day.”

Moore sees plusses and minuses to his absence.

“It’s been a good time to reflect, evaluate and think of other things,” he commented. “The negative for me was missing a window where I could have got some real work into the team. I really look forward to international breaks but the priority was health and safety.”

Asked what conclusions he drew, he replied: “All the games have been closely fought which I put down to good decision-making winning us games and lapses of concentration seeing us lose or draw.”

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Moore is as relaxed about Bursik’s absence too. Having made his England Under-21 debut on Tuesday, he returned to Stoke after injuries to Angus Gunn and ex-Barnsley captain Adam Davies.

“We’ve always admired Louis Jones, we see a big future ahead for him,” said Moore. “He’s always thirsting to get better.”

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