Debonair Deano’s winning start

Rovers' new manager Dean Saunders salutes the home fans. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' new manager Dean Saunders salutes the home fans. Picture: Andrew Roe

LIAM Hoden reflects on Dean Saunders’ introduction as Rovers boss

IT is fair to say Dean Saunders had a lot of people to win over when he made his first public appearance as Doncaster Rovers boss.

All of those present, plus Rovers’ thousands of supporters, had gone to bed on Thursday night seemingly safe in the knowledge that Sean O’Driscoll was the team manager.

Last week, chairman John Ryan wrote in these pages, and emphatically told all who would listen elsewhere, that O’Driscoll would not be sacked.

So at Saunders’ maiden media gathering on Friday, there were still many people confused, and certainly shocked, about what had gone on overnight.

Notebooks were packed with questions not for the new man, but for Ryan, aimed at discovering the true nature of his apparent change of heart.

Even the first question, courteously directed at Saunders, was more for the chairman, asking when the chance to manage Doncaster was presented to him.

Saunders soon wrestled control and, inadvertently or not, he won over his audience.

Not a hair out of place and dressed in a smart blue suit that could quickly become his trademark, Saunders was the personification of charm.

His predecessor had never looked comfortable in the media spotlight but Saunders seemed to bask in it.

Self-assured and confident, the 47-year-old spoke eloquently and intelligently, never straying towards wild promises about unlikely promotion pushes.

He provided assurances the battle against the drop would be successful and it was hard not to be taken in by his message.

Saunders made you believe he would be a success at Doncaster, that the seams would not come undone with the departure of the man who was so deeply embedded into the fabric of the club.

There would be no difficult transition period from the O’Driscoll way of playing to the Saunders approach because they share a lot of the same characteristics.

But Saunders did not shy away from acknowledging a problem with the way things had been done so far this season.

He asserted that he shares the same deep desire to win as one of his mentors Graeme Souness and that he will use the most effective methods necessary to achieve that.

While questions over the events of Thursday night and Friday morning were still being pondered beyond the end of that first press conference, there were few doubts remaining over the new boss.

Saunders is clearly confident in his own ability and he managed to transfer that over to his audience with what he said.

The real talking is done on the pitch of course.

But supporters should be confident Saunders will soon show them he can also walk the walk.