Paul Dickov tried and ultimately failed to build a team in his own image.
The Scot’s biggest critics claimed they could not see a distinct style or pattern of play. But in my mind at least his intentions were fairly clear.
Since his appointment Dickov attempted to mould a team in his own image; one that would press, harass, make life as awkward for the opposition as possible. But one of his biggest problems - putting to one side takeovers and budgets - seemed to be getting that high intensity out of his players on any sort of regular basis.
Dickov’s best days in charge were when Rovers swarmed the opposition. Think Blackburn and Wigan at home in the Championship. That stirring second half comeback against QPR. Last year’s Boxing Day treat against Coventry. Built on sheer hard work and getting in the opposition’s faces, those type of performances were simply not seen enough at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Therein lay Dickov’s vicious circle. Intense pressing is all very well one weekend. Doing it for a full season, with a small squad and limited resources, is another thing entirely. Dickov was almost constantly torn between wanting to stick with a winning team and freshening things up. Inconsistency ultimately ruled.
Shot shy yes, but this season Rovers had also shown signs of becoming harder to beat (bar Port Vale away). Yet this new team still appears to lack the confidence, clinicalness and nous to win games on a consistent basis.
Sean O’Driscoll’s Rovers had the ability to out-pass any opposition at this level, while the 2013 League One winners had the spirit to wear teams down.
You got the impression that Dickov’s vision for Doncaster was meant to be a fusion of the two, founded on the principles he had as a player. Sadly for him though, the good times were few and far between.