PAUL DICKOV admits he is flattered at being linked with the vacant Sheffield Wednesday job – but insists he remains ‘completely dedicated’ to Doncaster Rovers.
Dickov’s odds to take over at Wednesday – whose search to find a permanent successor to Dave Jones will enter a third week if no-one is appointed by Sunday – shortened massively in midweek down to 2/1.
That prompted speculation that the Owls could make an attempt to try and lure the Scot to Hillsborough, but Dickov says he wants to stay put and is ‘more than happy’ at Doncaster.
Rovers may lie in 20th spot in the Championship, but Dickov has won many admirers for turning the side into a highly competitive and well-organised outfit and punching above their weight, despite having the smallest playing budget in the division along with Yeovil Town.
The way Dickov also acquitted himself throughout the recent boardroom tensions at Rovers, whose majority shareholders were effectively split down the middle through a testing autumn which culminated in the very public resignation of John Ryan as chairman, also earned him respect not just among Rovers fans but in the wider football community.
But Rovers have been quick to rubbish any suggestions of a possible Owls move for Dickov and the 41-year-old has now come out and distanced himself from talk of any switch, insisting he is only part way through a long-term plan to transform the Keepmoat Stadium outfit.
On the rumoured Wednesday interest, Dickov, who only took over at Rovers in late May after leaving previous club Oldham Athletic just under four months earlier, said: “You are flattered by it a little bit because it means not just yourself but the whole club are doing something right.
“But from my point of view, I am more than happy here.
“I came into the club in the summer and it’s not just about the results we get on a Saturday, but through my talks with the board and everybody, I want to try and build something here and that’s not just on the pitch on Saturday.
“It goes back to working to get more fans in, working with the school of excellence and creating things like on Monday night when I am taking a group of under-nines and under-tens for under-11s training.
“That’s for the future of the club and I am trying to build it in the right way on and off the pitch and I am completely dedicated to that, happy with what I am doing and don’t want to go anywhere.”
While Dickov, whose side welcome Leeds United in a home derby tomorrow, has his sights firmly set on building a long-term future for Rovers, he also has one eye on the here and now and says he is confident of finalising a new deal with captain Richie Wellens shortly.
The 33-year-old’s deal at the Keepmoat runs out at the start of the New Year, with many supporters fearful he could leave the club if nothing is resolved soon.
The signing of a new two-year-contract for Wellens was thought to hinge on the recent takeover by Irish-based consortium Sequentia Capital going through – and following its collapse, it has intensified fears the ex-Leicester City schemer could leave.
But Dickov is confident about securing the extended services of Wellens.
He added: “I had a long meeting with Gavin (Baldwin – chief executive) the other day and Richie was one of the names brought up.
“Richie wants to stay, we want him to stay and there’s a massive goodwill from the board to make that happen as well. Nearer the time we can hopefully sit down and get it sorted out.
“I’ve said before, if I wasn’t confident of keeping him here, I wouldn’t have given him the captain’s armband. That’s how confident I am.”
While Dickov was successful in signing Wellens in the summer – and is hoping to do so again – he admits he wasn’t so fortunate in his quest for another close-season target, who he will come face to face with at the Keepmoat tomorrow.
Namely big Leeds United striker Matt Smith, who burst onto the scene under Dickov’s guidance at Oldham, scoring four FA Cup goals against Merseyside giants Liverpool and Everton at the start of the New Year.
Dickov, who signed Smith from non-league Solihull Moors in 2011 and handed him his big chance in professional football, has revealed he was interested in bringing in the 24-year-old ahead of the start of the 2013-14 season – only for Leeds to beat him to his signature.
On his attempts to land Smith, who scored his first goal for Leeds in their Capital One Cup victory at the Keepmoat in late August, Dickov said: “We were (interested). But we had other priorities at the time.
“Matt knew we would have possibly liked to have brought him here. But he made up his mind and went elsewhere; I wished him all the best at the time and I wish him all the best after Saturday.
“Matt is somebody I watched a lot at non-league level and I signed him at Oldham on a two-year-contract. Other than his mum and dad, there’s probably no-one more delighted to see how well he has done than me.
“He’s a fantastic kid who wants to learn and to see him playing and scoring goals in the Championship is a credit to him.
“He’s not just a handful on the pitch, but a fantastic kid on it. He deserves all the success he gets – after Saturday!
“We are going to have to be very careful because with him and (Ross) McCormack up and (Rodolph) Austin just behind them, they can cause us a lot of problems.”