JUST like any proud Italian, Federico Macheda knows full well the importance of family ties.
While the bond between the Manchester United striker and Doncaster Rovers manager Paul Dickov may not be of the blood variety, that has not prevented a close relationship ensuing in their brief time working together.
The bond fostered during Macheda’s first month at the Keepmoat Stadium was strong enough to ensure that the 22-year-old rejected the overtures of a host of other Championship rivals – some with much better resources and in much loftier league positions – to make his Rovers return yesterday.
A mark of a strong family is that it remains resolute in troubled times and Macheda finds the club he first joined in September in a touch more strife on and off the pitch than when he first arrived.
His re-signing could not, therefore, have been synchronised better ahead of tonight’s crucial televised clash with basement club Yeovil Town.
Win and fourth-from-bottom Rovers will claim much-needed relief after a run of just two victories in 12 league games.
Lose and the West Country club will move to within a point of them.
Macheda, who hit three goals in five matches before a hamstring injury cut short his first stint at Rovers, said: “Paul has helped me a lot. In the previous loans, I have had problems with managers changing. Hopefully, that won’t happen here.
“I like Paul as he’s a very nice person and a good manager and he treats me like a son.
“It’s important to have an important relationship with the manager and I think he can get the best out of me.
“It was important to come back here and keep going like how I started.
“I had lots of clubs from the Championship who wanted to sign me, but the decision was always to come back here.
“I wanted to come back here because I have been here already and I like the place and manager.”
He added: “I have been training for two weeks now and everything has gone well and I can start playing.
“It was a bit frustrating with my injury and I worked very hard to come back soon and I am happy to come back now.
“I can’t wait to get on the pitch now. The recent results have not been great and I am really looking forward to helping the team get some results.”
After some intense rehabilitation with the Premier League champions’ medical staff at Carrington, Macheda is in pristine condition and Dickov could not be happier at the physical state of his prized specimen.
The Roman forward is positively ‘flying’ according to Dickov and while Rovers fans saw some choice glimpses of Macheda’s exquisite goalscoring gifts against Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday last time around, the Keepmoat boss is confident he will bring even more to the table over the coming weeks.
On recapturing Macheda, who will remain at Rovers until the end of December, Dickov said: “To be fair to the kid, a lot of credit has to go to him. Because of how he performed in his previous spell, a lot of clubs wanted to take him and he had his choice of six, seven or eight clubs to go to.
“But Kiko always said to me, and has been true to his word, that if he was fit and coming back out on loan, he wanted to come back here.
“It doesn’t just give me a boost to have a goalscorer in the team, but the players a boost with someone of his quality coming in.
“He creates panic among other teams – even his name being on the teamsheet.
“They know if Kiko gets chances, nine times out of 10 he will put them away and he showed that with three goals in five games when he wasn’t fully fit.
“The positive thing for me is that we are getting a fitter Kiko back to last time.
“You could tell by the players’ reaction when he came in they are happy he’s back.
“He has been working with fitness guys (at Manchester) who aren’t just the best in the country, but best in the game and he’s had a couple of minutes under his belt in a behind-closed-doors game as we didn’t want there to be any doubt about his fitness when he came back. He trained on Wednesday with us and was flying.”
Macheda’s arrival represents a major psychological boost, not just for Dickov and Rovers’ fans, but the club’s overlords, anxious for some positive headlines with the takeover situation at the club no closer to being resolved.
Tonight represents the first game of the post-John Ryan tenure, with the former chairman – an omnipresent force at the club for 15 years – having severed his links with Rovers.
When news of his stunning resignation at the kick-off of Rovers’ last league game with Barnsley spread among the away ranks at Oakwell, many were quick to hail the club icon – and criticise fellow majority shareholder Terry Bramall.
The construction magnate is expected at the Keepmoat tonight on a rare visit to a Rovers game.
Despite the situation behind the scenes, Dickov is anxious that supporters put what is going on away from the pitch to the back of their minds and focus on roaring on Rovers to a keynote win.
He said: “I know everyone will have their own opinion on what should happen and shouldn’t. But the one thing I will ask them to do – and they have been fantastic all year – is to get together and behind the team.
“The one thing we are going to do is go for it from the start and I am a big believer that if you start well, the fans will get behind you. People talk about the fans getting the players going; I believe the players should get the fans going.”
Rovers, whose winger Kyle Bennett has returned to the club after a loan spell at Crawley Town, have taken former Bolton defender Abdoulaye Meite on trial.
Last six games: Doncaster LDDDWL; Yeovil LLWDLL.
Last time: Doncaster 1 Yeovil 2; Sat, February 23, 2013; League One.
Referee: S Attwell (Nuneaton).