So as the dust settles on Richie Wellens’ departure to Leicester City, we’ve been picking through the various soundbites to get an understanding of what this deal means to the Rovers. We start with Wellens’ himself, as although he is heading elsewhere he was full of praise for the club he leaves behind.
“My time at Doncaster has probably been the best two years of my career, I couldn’t have picked a better club to go to or a better manager to work under. Doncaster have been great for my career and I wasn’t looking to leave. But Leicester are a big club with a big fan base and are wanting to get back into the Premiership.”
Chairman John Ryan is of course always on hand for a good quote or three. “We are obviously very disappointed to lose Richie,” Ryan to BBC Radio Sheffield yesterday, “but, at 29, he has been offered an opportunity to earn an awful lot of money and it would be wrong to stand in his way. The problem is that we had a deficit of £3.2m last year, we’ve got to live in the real world”.
Ryan was thankfully quick to switch to the glass half full school of thought; “I would have great faith in our manager to find someone else capable of doing equally well for the club next season. People also know that if they come to us, they will become a better player. A very good proportion [of the fee received] will be made available [to Sean O’Driscoll] and don’t forget the wages available as well.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly Sean O’Driscoll was less candid and a little more frugal about splashing the cash when he spoke to Steve Hossack of the Doncaster Star.
“I would like to bring in more than one player if we could. I would prefer to do that rather than blowing the money that is available on one player unless we thought that he was worth it and he would add something to the squad. We’ve got to look at the squad and see where the money can best be spent. We’ve still got a talented midfield so do we bring in another midfield player or do we bring in somebody else in an area that the squad can be strengthened in? That is the conundrum that we’ve got.”
“We didn’t score enough goals last season and the temptation is that maybe we try to bring a striker on board who has a Championship pedigree and sacrifice bringing in a replacement for Richie. Another option would be to bring in somebody we haven’t got, such as an out-and-out winger. He would add something to the squad and give us a different dimension. We are looking at all those scenarios – but first of all the players have got to be available.”
When asked about the possibility of looking lower down the leagues or in other countries O’Driscoll understandably proclaimed to be keeping his options open. “You look anywhere. A year ago most of our players were League One players and they’ve proved good enough to play in the Championship. There are talented players wherever you look but nobody wants to lose their better players.”
And that of course includes Rovers with the departure of Ric hie Wellens; “Whether you are Manchester United or Doncaster Rovers replacing [your better players] is always difficult. The balance of the side will alter because whatever player you bring in is not going to be like for like. They might be position-wise, but players all have different characteristics and different strengths so replacing Richie in that sense will be difficult.”
Difficult, but hopefully not impossible.