Doncaster Rovers: Why new manager Gary McSheffrey’s actions will have to speak louder than words

If Doncaster Rovers fans were hoping for a revolution when Richie Wellens was shown the door at the start of December, that is not what they got.

Fanfares are hard when press conferences are over Zoom but it was almost as if Gary McSheffrey was handed the manager’s job by stealth on a Wednesday morning between Christmas and New Year, a couple of days after a home game.

With a quick email to announce his appointment and virtual director-free “unveiling” in half an hour, the League One club revealed their nearly month-long search had turned up a quietly-spoken 39-year-old who has been on the staff for three years and hid his wish to take the job from the public.

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“I’ll just be processing my ideas in small steps,” was no blockbuster rallying cry but McSheffrey is not that sort of person. Despite talk that the new man might be a “head coach” and of a director of football, his job title is manager, with responsibilities no different to his predecessors.

Quiet determination: Doncaster Rovers manager Gary McSheffrey. Picture: Isaac Parkin/PA Wire.

And whilst he has plans for urgently-needed signings and coaches, and funds to spend, there will be no starting again at a club which has had a miserable 2021 under four different managers, no ranting and raving at players.

McSheffrey is intelligent enough to know it would not work for them or him.

To supporters craving ambition from a club which has spent realistically in a pandemic, it might look a cheap option but McSheffrey insists he is on “pretty much the same contract as two of the previous four managers”.

“I understand people’s feelings,” he acknowledged. “All I’d say is there’s no point waking up every morning being negative. I’d like them maybe in a day or two to think, ‘Let’s back him, he’s the manager of our club now’.

New Doncaster Rovers manager Gary McSheffrey wants to retain Frank Sinclair as his assistant. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

“I’m not saying I’m going to keep this club up because, if I don’t, I look stupid.

“What I will say is I’ll fight every day to get to that. I feel it can be achieved.”

McSheffrey’s approach to the vacancy was deliberately quiet too and one win and three defeats as caretaker manager hardly built a crescendo.

“I’ve played for probably two or three interim managers and the moment you go out into the public and say you want the job you’re opening yourself up a little bit and putting a bit of pressure on the players,” he explained.

“A new manager comes in and straight away doesn’t trust that coach because they wanted that job and more often than not that coach ends up out the door.

“Once the first goal went in against Mansfield, when Branden Horton scored, I definitely knew I wanted the job.”

McSheffrey wants to take his time adding a part-time coach, possibly a set-piece expert, has already spoken to an experienced friend who will be his unpaid mentor, and wants to retain former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair as his assistant.

“I’d like Frank to stay; he adds value,” he confirmed. “He’s a good coach, he’s good with the players, good with the defenders. He’s passionate. If you had two like me on the sideline you’d think they’re not really interested! I’m how I am, trying to observe things and be a bit calmer.”

Transfer targets have been identified for when the window effectively opens on Monday and McSheffrey ideally wants “four or five” with a few permanent, experienced signings and possibly a shuffling of loanees.

“It’s not like we’re going to have a clearout and loads of new players, it’s impossible and we don’t want that because we feel there are good players and we just need to find the confidence levels to bring that out in them,” said the former under-23 and under-18 coach. “Gone are the days when you can just demand, demand, demand, tell, tell, tell. Young players nowadays don’t respond well to that.”

Quiet changes are always less exciting but McSheffrey needs boardroom and terrace support to stop Rovers sleepwalking into League Two.