Despite a 1-0 defeat at Derby in the 4th round of the FA Cup earlier today, Doncaster manager Sean O’Driscoll can take considerable solace in Rovers being a mere 6 points removed from a playoff spot in the Championship, the sort of jam econo results that have When Saturday Comes’ Glen Wilson wondering when a Premier League club might make a play for the former Republic Of Ireland international (“like taking your favourite toy to show off at primary school, the more you gleefully talk about how great it is, the more likely one of the bigger boys will come along and pluck it from your grasp.”)
To keep a squad in a division on a budget is one thing. To do so with reliance on an aesthetically pleasing brand of fluid football is another. O’Driscoll (above, right) has achieved results with one of the most unfashionable teams in the Championship playing arguably its most fashionable football. The emphasis is on ball retention and movement. The system is fluid, the midfielders and full-backs are given freedom to roam – comparisons with Arsenal’s style have been made often. There is joy to be had in punching above your weight, but to do so while out-footballing players much more feted than your own carries an incredible amount of satisfaction.
Given that O’Driscoll also holds an obvious disdain for the by-products of modern football, it would have been interesting to see him handle the media envelopment of the Premier League. So down to earth he’s practically subterranean, WSC’s Taylor Parkes once described him as “speaking so quietly, he’s drowned out by my wristwatch and looking like he’s just been told his dog has three weeks to live”. In 2008, when asked how he would be celebrating play-off promotion O’Driscoll whispered: “I’ve got a cup of tea waiting, but it’s going cold.” Refreshingly he is the very antonym of Phil Brown