Doncaster Rovers v Scunthorpe United: ‘We’re definitely in a relegation battle’ – the opposition view

Stuart McCall
Stuart McCall

A tale of two formbooks will define the build-up to Saturday’s derby with Scunthorpe United for Doncaster Rovers.

While Rovers are rampant with three consecutive wins and six games unbeaten, Iron limp to the Keepmoat, hovering just above the relegation zone after just one win in their last ten matches.

For a side that has consistently challenged for the play-offs, this season has proved to be a dramatic drop-off for Scunthorpe.

We spoke to Paul Crute of the Scunthorpe Telegraph to get the lowdown on what is happening at Glanford Park.

Q: It's been a very difficult season so far for the club. What do you think the reasons for this have been?

PC: The root cause of it has been the amount of players that left at the end of last season and we have not been able to adequately replace them. 

Murray Wallace, Duane Holmes, Conor Townsend and Hakeeb Adelakun had all been stand out players last season, but failure to get promotion in the play-offs meant they all left for Championship clubs and Scunthorpe have not been able to bring in players of the same quality. 

The squad has also been ravaged by injuries recently. Jordan Clarke, Funso Ojo and Josh Morris have all been missing for large chunks of the season, while our best player so far this season, Ryan Colclough is out for the next nine months after rupturing his cruciate ligament.

Defence has been the main problem this season, we have just conceded far too many and are often needing to score four to win a game. 

Q: What were the expectations at the start of the season? Are they in a relegation battle now?

PC: With the loss of so many players, many felt we wouldn't be strong enough to challenge for the play-offs like we have done during the last couple of seasons but I think a few are surprised by how much we are struggling.

We are definitely in a relegation battle and at the moment the fans are saying we are only above the bottom four because there are four teams worse than us.

January could be a defining month for Scunthorpe in terms of the players that we will bring in.

Q: How has Stuart McCall been received since his appointment? Does he have to take some responsibility for the current position?

PC: On the whole the initial reaction to his appointment was positive.

He enjoyed a honeymoon period during September but since October results have taken a nosedive.

Some fans are sympathetic to McCall's plight given the players he has at his disposal and the limitations he has to work within.

At the moment he has to be given the benefit of the doubt, due to the fact he has not had a transfer window to work with, which is why January could be such a pivotal month. 

But on the other hand after more than three months in charge, you maybe would have expected to have a little bit of an improvement. 

Q: What system and style of play does McCall favour?

PC: McCall does like to play an attacking brand of football but that can be part of his downfall.

Playing in that style has meant it has been at the expense of the defence.

Despite the defensive problems he has said he is reluctant to play one up front at home because he sees it as too negative.

Q: Who are the dangermen for Scunthorpe?

PC: In the absence of Ryan Colclough, who has been our most creative and dangerous player, it has to be Lee Novak.

The striker has one of the few shining lights this season.

He already has eight goals this season and because he has been free of niggling injuries that blighted him  last season he has been able to get a consistent run of games.

He has looked leaner fitter and hungrier and as a consequence is showing the form people knew he was capable of.