Football League Expert & Columnist
Peter Beagrie says Dean Saunders will bring new ideas and an exciting approach to Doncaster.
Last Updated: 13/10/11 3:52pm
There's never a dull moment when Dean Saunders is around and the start of his tenure at Doncaster is testament to that.
He's gone into that dressing room and given everybody a lift. They were anchored to the bottom of the Championship when he was appointed, but they've taken seven points from his three games in charge.
Doncaster chairman John Ryan is not in the habit of hiring and firing managers on a whim - Saunders is only their third manager in 10 years - and he was upset that he had to remove Sean O'Driscoll after all the good work he'd done for them.
But he felt the move was necessary. They've been the best footballing side in the Championship, alongside Swansea, in the last few seasons and if points were awarded for every 10 passes made then they would have won automatic promotion.
But they don't score enough goals and after seven matches they'd had fewer shots than any other team. They only picked up one point from those games, scoring just two goals in the process.
The barren run stretches back beyond this season too. They only won three of their 25 games after New Year's Day last season and the signs were there for some time.
O'Driscoll was a much-sought after manager and was heavily linked with Burnley and in hindsight I'm sure he wishes he'd moved. I now hope this decision will suit both parties because he can go away and recharge his batteries, while Doncaster can go in a different direction.
And they have certainly appointed someone who is a polar opposite. Where O'Driscoll shied away from the cameras, Saunders is a media man's dream and loves to talk. That change of dynamic explains why they went for him.
He has experience of working in the Premier League, but was more recently in the non league with Wrexham, so he will identify players from all over. He has already attracted Herita Illungu from West Ham, Chris Kirkland from Wigan and Pascal Chimbonda from QPR and I expect a host of others to come in.
He has the team playing at a higher tempo, he is getting more bodies in the box and they are asking more questions of opposition defences. He has enjoyed some luck with his substitutions too, replacing Billy Sharp with Kyle Bennett in the game against Peterborough and seeing him net the winner.
The best thing about Saunders is that he's a communicator and he can get his point across. He also has some unique ideas on how to motivate his players; a few weeks ago he brought in a plasma television and awarded it to the best player in training.
I bet they thought he couldn't top that, but the next week he brought in a horse and jockey and awarded a share in the horse to the best trainer! I might head down to the training ground next week to see if I can win myself a four-bedroom detached house!
He's a good friend of mine from our days rooming together at Bradford and we had to make a pact to allow other people to get a word in edgeways because we were always full of stories.
He is a joker - and his repertoire of impressions could win Britain's Got Talent - but he is very serious and very passionate about football. You don't put your body through the rigours of top-level football in your late-thirties - as we both did - if you're not.
Saunders exudes passion and I think he will prove to be an excellent appointment for Doncaster.
Doncaster v Leeds
7.30pm, Fri, Sky Sports HD1
There's only 36 miles between Doncaster and Leeds and both managers will demand everything from their players when they meet on Friday.
Doncaster have only won one of the last 13 fixtures against Leeds, but they won their most important clash in the 2008 Play-Off Final to keep their rivals in League One. There's a score to settle there, and also a few players facing their former club as the likes of Neil Sullivan, Richard Naylor and Martin Woods used to play for Leeds
Friday night will mark Simon Grayson's 150th game as Leeds boss and the club have been through six managers since last man to do that, which was David O'Leary. He refuses to compromise his attacking beliefs, but I know he was ecstatic to keep a rare clean sheet against Portsmouth.
In Leeds' 46 league games in 2010/11 there were 152 goals scored and this season there have been 3.56 goals per game, which is second only to Southampton. It's a different season, but the same old Leeds it seems. I hope that's the case on Friday and we get a repeat of the 3-3 draw we saw the last time Sky Sports covered Leeds against Brighton.
I'm looking forward to seeing two young players that I signed for Scunthorpe for a combined total of £150,000 - Andy Keogh and Billy Sharp, who were both fantastic youngsters and excellent professionals.
I'm also looking forward to sharing a beer with both managers after the game, so a 3-3 would suit me down to the ground. It'll put a smile on both of their faces and provide plenty of entertainment for the watching public.
What else we learned this week
A good result for West Ham... This week's decision over the Olympic Stadium looks like being a plus out of a negative for West Ham. I'm sure it suits them to potentially loan the ground rather than buy it outright.
Better Leyton never... Leyton Orient have won their last two games to lift themselves off the bottom of the table after a poor start. It's good to see them making an improvement at last.
Mack makes his mark... It was good to see Championship players performing well in the international fixtures, not least Brighton's Craig Mackail-Smith, who scored Scotland's winner in Liechtenstein. It was a shame they couldn't go the next step and make it into the play-offs.