Doncaster Rovers v Mansfield Town: Darren Ferguson looks to seal deal before targetting first title

Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson celebrates his sides' fifth goal against Grimsby last Saturday Picture: Jon Buckle/PA
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson celebrates his sides' fifth goal against Grimsby last Saturday Picture: Jon Buckle/PA
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HE MAY have manufactured three of them already, but Doncaster boss Darren Ferguson is hungrier than ever to gain a fourth promotion.

Rovers will confirm their elevation from League Two later today provided they overcome Mansfield Town at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Similarly, a return to League One will also be rubber-stamped if they simply match Stevenage’s result against Colchester.

Ferguson took Peterborough up three times in two separate spells in charge at London Road but his latest achievement can be secured with the added incentive of lifting a league title – something that eluded the Scot during his time in Cambridgeshire.

Ferguson, who last weekend toasted his 500th managerial outing with a hugely impressive 5-1 destruction of Grimsby Town, wants to finish top of the pile and secure a maiden league crown.

“I’ve said all along that I want to win the league,” Ferguson told The Yorkshire Post.

It’s in our hands and it would be really good to get it done in front of our fans at the Keepmoat.

Doncaster Rovers’ manager, Darren Ferguson

“It’s always nice to finish in first place and when I’ve gone up before it’s been either as runners-up or through the play-offs.

“I don’t know how long we’ve been top but we don’t want to give that up now.

“It’s in our hands and it would be really good to get it done in front of our fans at the Keepmoat.

“These kind of opportunities have got to be taken.

“It would be fantastic to get to 84 points and still have five games to go.

“Given what happened last year, if we can get promoted at home then it completely changes the atmosphere.

“It would put a smile on the faces of everyone and we owe that to the fans at least.

“I can then start focusing on dealings for next season.

“If you let seasons peter out, it can take it into the following season.

“I’ve had that happen before and you don’t want that.

“Momentum is a big thing for us and once you get used to winning games everyone buys into it.”

Ferguson also believes that should promotion be rubber-stamped this weekend, it will justify the club’s decision to stick with him following the low ebb of relegation last season.

Ferguson’s summer was spent revamping the club’s roster and implementing an expansive, attractive brand of football.

Acquisitions such as Tommy Rowe, John Marquis and Matty Blair have helped the transitional period and that style has since garnered 80 goals and seen the team win 60 per cent of their games.

The culmination of such form is that Rovers find themselves just three points shy of a quickfire return to the third tier.

That is a world away from where Ferguson says the club was at just 12 months ago.

He added: “Whatever I’ve done in the past, that’s forgotten when you go to a new club.

“When I first came in, things were going great but then we just collapsed.

“I had to look at that in the summer and the big thing that stood out for me was we didn’t have enough pace, energy and character in the team. Those are the three traits that I looked for, along with the obvious ones such as quality of player.

“I needed some time to get my own squad together for the whole season, not just for a month or two.

“The fitness levels have certainly gone up. This is a tough league and clubs like Portsmouth have been down here for a good few years.

“It’s been a big job needed to get to where we are at now.

“Everyone had to buy into the way that I wanted to do it and, fortunately, the players have done that.

“I was here last season and here for long enough to take responsibility (for relegation).

“But this is my team now. I wanted the success that we look like we’re going to have. Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards a few steps.

“It’s easy to say but you have to actually go out and get it done. But I would say if we get up to League One then we’ll be in a much stronger position than when I arrived. We’re playing how I want us to play and I have to say I’ve been delighted with the players.

“We’re nearly there and we want to complete the job now on Saturday. We go into this game in tremendous confidence after the Grimsby game. I don’t have to overstate the importance of this game.

“It’s there staring us in the face. It will be a good atmosphere with two high-energy teams and I’m looking forward to it.”