Experiment ‘undid’ Sean O’Driscoll’s good work, says James Coppinger ahead of Dean Saunders’ Rovers reunion

James Coppinger
James Coppinger

James Coppinger says Doncaster Rovers’ infamous experiment ‘undid’ five years worth of work under Sean O’Driscoll.

Rovers are reunited with former boss Dean Saunders tonight with the Welshman in interim charge of Crawley Town - evoking memories of his short but eventful spell in charge of Doncaster.

Coppinger, speaking at the launch of his testimonial year last week, said Rovers’ relegation from the Championship under Saunders was an obvious low point during his ten years at Doncaster - and even admitted to now using that period as a motivational tool when the going gets tough.

Want to comment on this article? Log in or register here

“It was disappointing from my perspective,” said Coppinger, reflecting on the 2012/13 season.

“A lot of the work that we’d done in the five years [previous] sort of got undone.

“I’d obviously spoken to Sean [O’Driscoll] in-depth on a personal level and I knew how much he did. He wasn’t just the manager of the football club - he ran the club from top to bottom.

“So, for me, that all went.

“Obviously new players then came in and it was difficult because everything we had had success with, we were then doing the opposite. So it was hard to take.

“I suppose you could see my frustration in games. I scored a goal against Portsmouth on the day we got relegated and I just couldn’t really believe what was going on.

“It was an experiment that could have worked but obviously it didn’t.

“It’s one of those things that whenever things are going against me, I look back on that and think ‘you know what, that happened’ and I use it as a tool to be more positive.”

The following season Coppinger was reunited with O’Driscoll after joining Nottingham Forest on loan on deadline day - alighting the Rovers team bus that was en-route to Yeovil to be whisked to Nottingham by his agent to sign for Forest with hours to spare.

“I went away and I didn’t really want to go but circumstances played a part in that,” Coppinger said.

“I was one of the top earners and the club needed to get me off the wage bill to an extent - but in January I was more than happy to come back.

“When I came back I could see the lads were so focused and driven towards getting promotion and I was glad to be a part of that.”

Coppinger misses out tonight with an ankle injury.

Watch the full video interview here: The James Coppinger Years