(Photo: Action Images)
By John Lyons
DONCASTER Rovers are storming ahead at the top of League Two – and defender Mathieu Baudry is not surprised.
That’s not the Frenchman being cocky or arrogant. It’s a clinical assessment of the club he moved to last summer and, in particular, the professionalism of manager Darren Ferguson.
When the 28-year-old turned down a new contract with Leyton Orient at the end of last season after four years with the O’s, he wanted a fresh challenge. A two-year deal with Donny was forthcoming and Baudry headed north.
However, it wasn’t an easy start for the centre-back as Achilles surgery ruled him out of pre-season and the first two months of the campaign.
Ironically, it also proved to the Le Havre-born defender that he had made the right decision in joining Rovers, who had just been relegated from League One.
“When I was injured, I was looking closely at what the staff and players were doing in training and I could see that everyone knew their jobs,” he said. “The manager got a great squad together.
“The team were doing well and I had to work hard to get into the team. We’re playing attractive football and I’m really enjoying it.”
Baudry could not be more fulsome in his praise of former Peterborough boss Ferguson.
“The gaffer sold me the club last summer and it was what I found here,” he said. “I have never had a manager with this amount of knowledge – he’s almost too good for this level. He gives you the tools to solve any problem you will face on the pitch.
“Everyone knows what they have to do in different situations and it’s easy for the players to express themselves.”
Heading into the weekend programme, Doncaster were four points clear of second-placed Plymouth, but, more importantly, a whopping 13 points ahead of fourth-place Portsmouth, the team directly outside the automatic promotion slots.
It means Donny look certs for an immediate return to the third tier, though Baudry, wisely, doesn’t admit that.
“We have a job to do,” he said. “I’ve been at clubs before where, if you win, people have been dancing in the changing rooms.
“Here, the manager stays calm and professional. It’s move on to the next game. People don’t get carried away and the gaffer wants you to improve. We have a bunch of very professional players pulling in the same direction. We don’t look at the table.”
Another team who may not want to look at the standings are Baudry’s old club, Leyton Orient, but for different reasons.
Pre-weekend, the O’s were a dismal 21st in the table, just two points above the drop zone.
It’s a far cry from just a few years ago when Orient came within a whisker of earning promotion to the Championship, losing on penalties to Rotherham in the play-off final at Wembley.
Baudry can’t hide his disappointment at the club’s dramatic fall from grace.
“My first two seasons there were great and we were so close to getting to the Championship,” he said. “Since the new chairman and regime have come in, it’s been a hard two seasons.
“I made some great friends there and I met some great people, so it’s hard to see the situation now. I feel for them.
“I needed to move on. I didn’t see a future there. It’s sad and I hope things will change in the future.”
For his part, Baudry is happy in England after six years here and almost feels like a native.
“I enjoyed it from the start, the mentality of the English,” he said. “My wife, Jessica, is English and I think we’ll stay here. It feels like people are more approachable.
“I’m happy and my family is happy. When you are enjoying your football, life is easier, too.”