Paul Goodwin: Paul Dickov got more than he bargained for at Doncaster Rovers

Paul Dickov
Paul Dickov

You get the feeling Paul Dickov didn’t quite know what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to take the job at Doncaster Rovers.

Punctuated by positivity, in his own words “humbled” by the opportunity, the Scot breezed into the Keepmoat Stadium on a mission to cement Championship status and build on what, at the time, seemed like solid foundations.

Now, as he mulls over Rovers’ instant return to League One, nursing a quite remarkable sense of deja-vu, it’s fair to say things haven’t exactly gone to plan.

During Dickov’s unveiling at Doncaster he made a point of stating his new job was an exciting, fresh challenge - an opportunity to manage without interference from behind the scenes.

It was a thinly-veiled reference to the difficulties he had encountered during his two and a half year stint at Oldham.

But had Dickov read the small print in his Doncaster contract? Because little did he know what was lurking round the corner - a footballing soap opera of epic proportions.

Even Dickov’s harshest critics, those that point the finger of blame for relegation solely at his door, cannot deny that he has been dealt a pretty awful hand not just for one summer, but now two.

Following Sequentia Capital’s stalled and ultimately unsuccessful bid to buy the club, and the boardroom unrest it created, there were arguably plenty of mitigating factors behind Doncaster’s subsequent slide out of the second tier.

The worrying thing now is that history is in danger of repeating itself.

Last week’s collapse of John Ryan and Louis Tomlinson’s proposed takeover has left Dickov picking up exactly the same pieces he did 12 months ago.

Through absolutely no fault of his own, he’s playing catch up yet again. His pre-season preparations are in disarray yet again. He’s missed out on players yet again. He faces a race against time to get a team up to speed for day one yet again.

Yet, throughout all of the politics, boardroom bravado and brinkmanship, Dickov has conducted himself in admirable fashion. He knows exactly what to say, and when to say it.

He certainly made a point of keeping in with Terry Bramall and Dick Watson.

Now, more than ever, he needs their support. Because, after one ruined summer proved to be the forerunner to relegation from the Championship, Doncaster can’t let history repeat itself in League One.