Paul Goodwin: Sustainability v Expectation - the dichotomy that is placing a strain on Paul Dickov

Paul Dickov
Paul Dickov
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Doncaster Rovers are not singing from the same hymn sheet as a vocal minority of their supporters.

And it is that - in addition to results on the field - which is contributing to the current tension on the terraces.

Saturday’s performance in the 3-0 defeat at Walsall was so abject that a section of Doncaster fans at one point ‘faked’ their own Rovers goal and subsequent celebration.

But there was very little cheer on social media upon the final whistle when boss Paul Dickov appeared to bear the brunt of fans’ frustrations.

Dickov’s overall Doncaster record (P61 W17 D13 L31) has come under intense scrutiny from supporters this week - and in black and white even he will admit it makes disappointing reading.

Any assessment of his tenure, however, should not be so quick to forget the takeover politics of the last two pre-seasons and this summer’s cuts to the budget that have dramatically reduced the number of senior, experienced pros on the club’s books.

Dickov does not just have a big job on his hands getting results on the pitch - he must also manage expectations off it.

And it’s the fact that Rovers are singing from a different hymn sheet to many of their supporters that is making life doubly-awkward for the Scot when results aren’t going Doncaster’s way.

For despite Dickov’s repeated attempts to dilute people’s expectations, and warn them of the inevitable ups and downs of carrying such a wafer-thin squad, there is a clear dichotomy between the current aims of the club and the expectations of several supporters.

The Doncaster board want sustainability.

At every available opportunity they have made it clear that their primary objective is for Doncaster Rovers to become a self-sustainable organisation.

Fans, on the other hand, want to win football matches.

Football fans dream of seeing their team parade a trophy at the end of the season - not a set of accounts that are in the black.

The Doncaster board are content to consolidate in League One, at least for the time being.

‘Consolidation’ is not a word on the tip of your typical football fan’s tongue.

Rovers’ young fans, and the club appears to have lots of them, have grown up watching their team in the Championship.

For many of those fans, consolidation is not an option. And therein lies arguably Dickov’s biggest problem of all.

At the current crossroads that Doncaster Rovers find themselves as a club, and have been positioned at since those heady days in the Championship under Sean O’Driscoll, it’s proving very hard for the Scot to keep everyone happy.

Of course, winning more games than you lose, operating in the top half of League One, would just about do that this season.

But until either Rovers raise their aspirations and make a concerted attempt to gain promotion, or all their supporters lower their expectations and buy fully into the plan to become sustainable, Dickov arguably has a very tricky job on his hands.