Control key for Doncaster Rovers at Sheffield Wednesday warns boss

Being as reckless in possession as they have been at times in their first two matches will be extremely damaging for Doncaster Rovers as they face Sheffield Wednesday.

Saturday, 14th August 2021, 12:52 pm
Richie Wellens

Boss Richie Wellens has echoed that statement to his players this week ahead of the South Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough.

Wellens was pleased with how Rovers controlled possession in the second half of their Carabao Cup clash with Walsall in midweek.

But he was concerned at how cheaply possession was conceded before the break, particularly in areas of the pitch which left them vulnerable.

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With Wednesday able to call upon the likes of Barry Bannan and Massimo Luongo in their midfield, giving the ball away too easily could be incredibly costly.

And so Wellens will emphasise the need for control yet again.

He said: “If we turn the ball over like we did in the first half the other night and we needlessly give possession away and then continue to make the same mistakes, the crowd will get on top of us, they’ll overrun and overpower us and it’ll be a tough game.

“It’s inevitable that people are going to give the ball away but there’s certain areas of the pitch where you can give the ball away and still be in control.

“I think that’s what we need to get better at.

“As our build-up play starts to develop, then we’ll start to release the full backs and release people from positions of strength.

“At the moment we get one pass in, our full backs are going and we’re open but we haven’t got the second and third pass to get control in.

“If we play like we did in the first half at Walsall, even though we had good passages of possession, if we keep giving it away in bad areas it’s two levels of quality up and they’ll make us pay.”

Wellens knows a positive result at Hillsborough could be huge for his side as he looks to build confidence among the group.

“When you start a season, you want that first win,” he said.

“You give messages out and even though they may be the right messages, if you don’t get the results then people’s confidence begins to suffer.

“In the manner we played the other night, I would have liked to have won it.

“If I’d got a bench with pace and power in that last 20 minutes, I think I make the changes that will win us the game.

“We didn’t. But it’s given me more belief because we had total control.”

Wellens feels there are similarities between Rovers and Wednesday, particularly in that both sides are learning how to win again after disappointing ends to last season.

“They had a season last year where they weren’t used to winning so that can take a bit of time to develop,” he said. “It takes time to build that mentality and we had that ourselves with not winning many in the last 20 games.

“You look at teams that get promoted and even though they’re stepping up a level, they can continue their momentum because the confidence is there.

“Teams dropping down a league, it can take time.”

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