Paul Goodwin: It’s like 2012 all over again - and look what happened then

James Coppinger and Brian Flynn celebrate winning the 2012/13 League One title.
James Coppinger and Brian Flynn celebrate winning the 2012/13 League One title.

Rovers have just been relegated from the Championship, the manager’s hands are tied and established pros are leaving left, right and centre.

That’s right, you’ve just stepped into the Doncaster Rovers time machine.

You’ve been transported back to the summer of 2012; a time of major upheaval, transfer frustration and lingering uncertainty.

Sound familiar? It should do.

Flash back to the present day and Doncaster Rovers find themselves in almost an identical situation, only this time the mood among supporters is even gloomier than the aftermath of the club’s disastrous Championship ‘experiment’.

You can hardly blame them. Another chaotic pre-season, ruined by a second successive failed takeover, took a turn for the worse last week when Richie Wellens spilt the beans and then James Coppinger announced his ten-year love affair with Rovers was over.

For many, the latter was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Coppinger was a shining light of Doncaster’s fairy tale rise up the Football League. He was an icon, a Rovers role model, and still a damn good player too.

But his exit has left many fans feeling like they’re in the dark when it comes to what direction Doncaster are now heading in.

After Rovers issued contrasting statements in a matter of days, firstly vowing to support Paul Dickov with a budget to fulfil everyone’s promotion ambitions, hastily followed by one which pledged to build a young squad capable of success over a number of seasons rather than just one, confusion reigns among the Keepmoat faithful. Which is it to be?

Quite what “success” now represents is unclear. A stable, well run club capable of holding its own in the Championship appears to be the target - but that now looks like a long term plan objective than a short term vision.

But that’s not the only source of confusion.

Are Rovers for sale, or not for sale?

Just how happy are Terry Bramall and Dick Watson to be left holding the baby following John Ryan’s latest failed takeover attempt?

Just how willing are they to fund the club out of their own pockets?

Will Ryan now have any sort of input or sway behind the scenes?

Who is the chairman? Who is calling the shots? What actually is success for Doncaster Rovers?

The club’s more immediate ambitions on the pitch are likely to become a lot clearer over the next fortnight. The proof will be in the pudding.

The number and type of players that come in (and out) over the next month or so will reveal everything about the level of support that Dickov is receiving.

Aside from on the field matters, Rovers have a big job to do off it too.

They need to go on the charm offensive. Their disillusioned supporters deserve it.

Whether it’s free tickets, free travel, fans’ forums or fun days, now’s the time for Doncaster Rovers’ commercial operation to go into overdrive and put a smile back on the club’s supporter base - or risk a revolt.

In the meantime those same fans can console themselves by stepping back into that time machine.

They can recall how Dean Saunders had to wait, and wait some more, to lay his League One building blocks two years ago.

And we all know what happened next.

That’s the beauty of following Doncaster Rovers, I suppose. You just never know what’s round the corner - anything is possible.