IF there is one thing that Doncaster Rovers’ manager Darren Ferguson plainly hates it is standing still.
A managerial CV that contains four lower-league promotions, including two from the third tier, attests to that fact.
Assigned with consolidating Rovers’ status in League One after last season’s promotion, Ferguson has – in the eyes of most observers – achieved that feat.
No mean accomplishment, either, given a campaign that has been badly disrupted by injuries at key junctures.
This has not stopped some supporters getting restless at Rovers’ lower mid-table position although, given his brief, Ferguson would justifiably beg to differ.
With the season almost done, the Rovers chief – while mindful of the morale boost that a good final week of 2017-18 would bring – has his sights firmly set on the future and views a push towards the top-six positions next season as the natural development following a year of consolidation.
It would also correlate with the club’s five-year plan announced in early 2017, whose aim is to see the club back in the Championship by 2022.
After initial discussions with board members regarding next season’s budget plans, further advanced talks will take place this week to finalise what the Scot has to work with next season.
Ferguson conveys the image that he is clear in his own mind in terms of the targets that the club need to be pursuing to help continue their incremental improvement in 2018-19.
He said: “The squad has improved in the last two seasons, but we have got to continue doing that, and that is the key thing for me for this club and I have got to make sure that everyone is on board in terms of me progressing the football club.
I do not want to be a League One manager and that is clear and I have made that clear, and the players don’t want to be in League One; they want to have a right challenge.Darren Ferguson
“We have had chats and they (Rovers’ board) understand what we need to improve on and we will have further chats going forward before the weekend.”
Alluding to next season’s plan of making a top-six push, he added: “That is part of the remit and has got to happen.
“I do not want to be a League One manager and that is clear and I have made that clear, and the players don’t want to be in League One; they want to have a right challenge.
“Everyone does at the club and we want to make sure we keep progressing. We have just got find the balance.
“I have done what I have been asked to do: consolidate. We have been in most games and I think anyone who has watched us throughout the whole season would say there has been a gradual improvement. I would like to think they would think that.
“There is also the fact that we have potential in the squad in those ones who are going to stay. But fans are fans and always want improvement and they have got a manager and set of players who want the same thing.”
It is clear what Ferguson’s key recruitment area is likely to be this summer, namely adding some quality attacking options to boost the club’s creativity and goal count, which is the sixth-worst in League One.
Ferguson said: “I think it is clear for everyone who has watched us all season as to where we need to improve.
“Everyone is after them (creative attacking players) and you have got to act quick and be good when you meet them in terms of what you are trying to present to them. But you have to make sure that they come for the right reasons and fit into the group.”
Given a season that has never got going for one reason or another, many fans – while thankful 15th-placed Rovers have steered clear of serious relegation trouble – will be glad when it is all over.
Ferguson probably will too, even while acknowledging that consolidation was always a pragmatic means to an end in 2017-18.
Rovers’ manager, who confirmed decisions on the future of the club’s out-of-contract players, including James Coppinger, Mathieu Baudry, Craig Alcock and Andy Williams, will be resolved this week, added: “You are always going to get people who expect you to blow it away and go back to back (promotions). But it is very rare that happens.
“We have never really been in the bottom four or pushed for the play-offs and we have sort of been in between. There has been moments where we have thought that if we did not win this game we could get dragged in and ones where we thought if we won we would not be that far away. It has always been ifs and buts.
“I am not used to it. It has always been fighting for promotion or to stay up in the Championship (before). I do not particularly enjoy it to be honest.
“There has always got to be the challenge of being successful, however that is perceived. That is the aim, if we can.”
Last six games: Doncaster DWDLLD AFC Wimbledon LDWWDD.
Referee: J Brooks (Leicestershire).
Last time: The two sides have never previously met in Doncaster.