Doncaster Rovers: Darren Moore let down by players but needs to find the answers to get Rovers back on track
It was a comment made by Ben Whiteman, backing up something said weeks ago by James Coppinger, that was then reiterated by youngster Shane Blaney.
‘When you don’t win or don’t perform, you feel like you’ve let him down.’
The ‘him’ in question on all three occasions was Darren Moore and the Rovers squad will not have been able to escape the feeling they had let him down on Wednesday night.
It was an unfamiliar version of Moore that sat in front of the press after the 3-0 defeat to Leicester City U21s which condemned them to a second round exit from the Leasing.com Trophy.
The beaming smile that typically lights up the press room at the Keepmoat was noticeably absent. Instead he wore a furrowed brow and an expression with a mix of concern, frustration and confusion.
What had occurred over the previous two hours was completely unexpected.
Not the defeat. The strength of the young Foxes side was apparent heading into the game to the extent a win for the visitors could barely be considered an upset.
The unexpected factor was a lacklustre, lifeless and toothless performance from a Rovers side that while much-changed, was still full of senior experience.
Moore wants to win every game. He certainly would not have wanted to exit the final cup competition which Rovers remained a part of.
But priority number one for the Rovers boss on Wednesday night was a strong performance.
He wanted to quickly wash away the sorry showing at Gillingham four days prior.
What he got was a similar dose of concerning football from a side so far under par that they could barely see where par was.
No reaction. No staking of a claim for a start by any of the nine players that came into the side as part of a raft of changes from the defeat at Gillingham.
They were outplayed and outworked by their young opposition from the first minute to the last.
Rovers, at their best, are all about finding space between the lines to hurt the opposition. Whether it is Ben Whiteman dropping deep and spraying a wonderful pass out to advancing full backs or James Coppinger buzzing around in front of the opposition defence and crafting opportunities.
But at this approach they were decidedly second best to a well-drilled and creative Leicester side.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall masterfully dictated play in front of the back four, centre halves over-lapped with real aggression and the movement in the final third was excellent.
Rovers simply lacked the energy to deal with or match it.
And with a pair of timely goals from the wonderfully named Admiral Muskwe, Rovers were always chasing the game and never looking capable of catching up.
The timing of runs and movement from Muskwe and strike partner George Hirst put to shame what was being produced by Rovers at the other end of the pitch. Moore could do worse than casting a glance at both as potential loan targets in January.
Moore likely endured a sleepless night on Wednesday as he pledged to study the video of the game to see where it all went so wrong.
And he will have had plenty to ponder afterwards at the raft of concerns that will have arisen from the screening.
Moore is tasked now with not only spotting what went wrong but in quickly making it right to ensure two sorry performances in cup competitions do not bleed into league competition.
So far this season he has been forced to adapt to how other teams have sought to deal with the threat of Rovers.
Now he must deal with the threat from within that his players are losing form and focus.
But he needs their help in doing just that. They cannot afford to let him down too many more times.
No one wants to see a downtrodden Darren Moore again any time soon.
We need that smile bringing back.