Doncaster Rovers’ Grant McCann eager to savour first promotion as boss

THE MOTIVATIONS for Doncaster Rovers to secure their place in the forthcoming League One play-offs are almost too numerous to mention.

For Grant McCann – a bit of a lucky charm as far as the end-of-season lottery is concerned with three successes in his playing days adorning his CV – there is the driver of participating in the May jamboree for the first time in his managerial career.

Given that it would arrive at the expense of Peterborough United, the club who sacked him just over 14 months ago after the London Road hierarchy perceived that their top-six hopes were in serious jeopardy with a third of the 2017-18 season to go, there might be a quiet sense of satisfaction should that be realised.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Not that the Rovers chief alluded to anything that might suggest as much ahead of tomorrow’s final home game with Coventry City, with the 39-year-old shrewdly in straight-bat mode when fielding questions about the significance of potentially pipping former club Posh to a play-off place.

Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann, right, and his assistant Cliff Byrne are one win from taking the side into the League One play-offs (Picture: Marie Caley).Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann, right, and his assistant Cliff Byrne are one win from taking the side into the League One play-offs (Picture: Marie Caley).
Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann, right, and his assistant Cliff Byrne are one win from taking the side into the League One play-offs (Picture: Marie Caley).

However, it is sometimes what you do not say that can speak volumes.

As for several of Rovers’ senior statesmen, clinching a top-six place tomorrow would certainly be special.

For the club per se there would also be justifiable pride at the achievement just three seasons on from the club dropping into the bottom tier.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After seeing their two previous final-day Keepmoat opponents at this level in Wigan and Burton hail major achievements in recent times, Rovers would like their own piece of the action.

McCann, whose side are one point clear of Peterborough ahead of the final weekend – Posh could still pip them if Rovers fail to win and they triumph – said: “I have had promotions as a player and know I want to get one as a manager.

“I am obviously quite young in terms of my managerial career and am only in my full second year as I left six months into my second one at Peterborough.

“It would be brilliant for me, but it is not about me, but this group really. I look in the dressing room and I see some of the older ones – the Coppingers, Butlers and Rowes – and I think that this may be the last chance for them to reach the play-offs at this level.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We all want to do it for those three and the whole football club.

“We have all got roles and responsibilities within the whole club. I had a meeting recently with everybody at the training ground – the cleaners, chefs and everyone – just to thank them for what they have done this year in terms of all the hard work behind the scenes.

“People do not see some of the stuff that goes on at the training ground and the hard work which goes into every single day. This all boils down to it (Saturday).”

As a player, McCann’s play-off record was a head-turning one.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Successes with Cheltenham Town (2005-06), Scunthorpe United (2008-09) and Peterborough (2010-11) are fondly recalled and bring a swell of pride to the Ulsterman, who is intent on making some latter-day history.

In his role as custodian of the club’s playing squad he is also the first to appreciate what it would mean to Rovers’ emerging young players, who have graced League One for most of this season and are now seeking the icing.

McCann, who captained Posh to play-off glory almost eight years ago, continued: “I have been in the play-offs three different times and won all three at three different venues. The first one was at the Millennium Stadium, the second was at Wembley and the third was at Old Trafford.

“I am quite unique in that scenario; I do not think anyone has ever done that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“So I have good experience of the play-offs and I am looking for another one. Cliffy (assistant Cliff Byrne) has had good experience as well and we know what it takes.

“But to be honest there is good experience in the group of promotions, which should help us at the weekend and calm one or two people down.

“But when you look at our young boys we play with no fear anyway – Herbie Kane and Mallik Wilks, in particular. They play with no fear and this game will not worry them and I am sure that they will have a lovely sleep on Friday night.

“I know Mallik will probably sleep in, but we will see.”

Given the vitality and boldness displayed by the likes of Kane, Wilks and Ben Whiteman in lighting up the League One scene this season, McCann remains confident that Rovers will stay true to their instincts and exhibit the energy and brio that have been their hallmarks in their biggest appointment of all tomorrow.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The message to our game will be, ‘Go and embrace it and enjoy the game’, like we have all season with that real energy, verve and tempo and expression about us,” McCann added.

“Then what will be, will be.

“But we know we have to win the game and all that hard work all season comes down to this. We need to be united as a whole football club and see if we can get this done.”