Doncaster Rovers: Five reasons to be optimistic for next season

John Marquis, Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger and Liam Mandeville all have big roles to play next season.
John Marquis, Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger and Liam Mandeville all have big roles to play next season.

Bizarrely, a season that delivered so much ended in despair at Hartlepool.

But there are several reasons why Doncaster Rovers fans can be optimistic ahead of the club’s impending return to League One.

1. A corner has been turned

Despite an upturn in results when Darren Ferguson initially took over from Paul Dickov, Rovers were on a downward trajectory when they were last in League One.

They had generally forgotten what it was like, and what was required, to win games on a regular basis. They were too easy to play against.

Ferguson described the playing arm of the club as “stale” and hinted that the attitude of certain players towards training was not what it should be.

Three relegations in five seasons meant the rot had well and truly set in.

But last season arrested that slide in emphatic fashion and the manager has played a big role in demanding certain standards and re-generating a winning culture.

2. The foundations are strong

Impressive recruitment over the last 12 months has helped transform an ageing, underperforming squad into a more youthful group with plenty of potential.

In Ian Lawlor, Mathieu Baudry, Tommy Rowe and John Marquis, Rovers now arguably have a spine that could cope in the Championship let alone League One.

The likes of Liam Mandeville, Niall Mason and Will Longbottom offer plenty of promise too.

3. The manager’s ruthlessness suggests the bar has been raised

Maybe, just maybe, Rovers’ poor end to the season helped convince Ferguson that the squad needed a bit more renovation work than he first thought.

The transfer-listing of Andy Williams, Harry Middleton and Mitchell Lund certainly raised a few eyebrows.

Casting those players to one side suggests that the manager is intent on improving his hand and is not about to settle for second-best.

4. Fergie has form for back-to-back promotions

Some managers are luckier than others. Some managers just have a knack of getting things right.

Relegation may have tainted Ferguson’s CV slightly. But don’t forget he led Peterborough United to three promotions, including back-to-back promotions between 2007 and 2009.

He has form for galvanising a dressing room and using that positive momentum to maximum effect.

5. There’s nothing to fear in League One

No disrespect intended, but if Scunthorpe and Fleetwood can reach the play-offs, Doncaster have nothing at all to fear back in the third tier.

Portsmouth and Plymouth could potentially kick on again next term, and you’d expect Blackburn and Wigan to be strong. But the flip side is Sheffield United and Bolton are no longer there.