Leon Wobschall: Doncaster Rovers need to show ambition to prove departing Darren Ferguson wrong

DARREN FERGUSON'S weariness was there for all to see during the latter stages of last season at Doncaster Rovers.

Exasperated: Darren Ferguson had become increasingly disillusioned in his final days as Doncaster boss. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Given a gruelling and at times disruptive campaign, stymied by some untimely injury issues for a couple of significant spells, it was somewhat understandable. It was a long season for many.

Creditably, Rovers kept their heads to secure League One safety comfortably enough, with a steady hand on the tiller in Ferguson steering their course away from relegation trouble.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But when talk centred on the future and Rovers’ plans for 2018-19, Ferguson’s tones carried more than a hint of impatience and exasperation, with it being clear he was not convinced by the club’s future direction of travel.

It all culminated in his decision to resign on Monday evening after just over two-and-a-half years in charge, with Ferguson understood to have been dissatisfied with the club’s playing budget for next season.

A surprise announcement – yes. But not a major shock either. Tension was rife, with Ferguson’s comment that he felt he had ‘no alternative’ particularly telling.

A frequent lament throughout 2017-18 from Ferguson was his fervent belief that the League One landscape was vastly different to the one of previous campaigns. Teams were rolling the dice and increasing their playing budgets in their pursuit of success.

Darren Ferguson left his post as Doncaster Rovers manager on Monday (Picture: PA)

And after presiding over a season of consolidation, as was his remit, Ferguson was plainly expecting more than he was offered when he entered into talks regarding next year’s budget.

With the next stage of the club’s well-documented five-year plan being to push for top ten/play-offs, the 46-year-old felt that anything else would be selling both the club and himself short. This being, after all, a club who spent five seasons in the Championship between 2008 and 2014.

Matters have now come to a head, although Rovers officials have stressed that the club’s playing budget next season will not be reduced, despite much conjecture.

Rovers can justifiably point to the financial commitment of last season which saw a fee of around £150,000 sanctioned to purchase Ben Whiteman in the January transfer window.

The club also swiftly brought in loan duo Tom Anderson and Andy Boyle during a central defensive injury crisis in late winter, with the latter having since agreed to join the club permanently.

But Ferguson was clearly not convinced by the club’s ambitions in the medium to long term, with national reports late on in the season which stated that he was likely to be the subject of approaches in the summer, suggesting that all was not well too.

The smart money is now on Ferguson finding alternative employment in the coming weeks, with the fact that he has four lower-league promotions on his CV unlikely to be lost upon many in the corridors of power at certain clubs.

For Rovers, the focus is now all on Ferguson’s replacement ahead of the players’ return to pre-season on June 25 and the quality of his replacement will give the best indication yet of just where the club are heading.

Rovers have already received over fifty applicants and will invite further applications over the next week before shortlisting begins.

For discerning Rovers supporters, quality rather than quantity will be the watchword, as they seek evidence that the club are not simply standing still.