LETTERS: Doncaster Rovers fans sound-off on club’s inconsistent start to season

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I read your article by Wesley Grimes (‘It’s time for Rovers fans to ‘get a grip’’, Doncaster Free Press, 30/10/2014) and would like to make a few points.

We can all harp on about the Ken Richardson days in 1995 when he got carried away with a box of matches but today’s fans won’t remember those days and quite rightly are concerned about the now and tomorrow.

The arrival of John Ryan in 2002 triggered our change in fortunes as we soared from the Conference to ultimately the Championship.

That’s been a great 12 years, but again that’s what today’s fans have grown up with and more senior fans have grown to expect.

The board can undeniably claim the credit for everything that has happened. We have grown to expect success and anything less than an immediate return to the Championship will be seen as a failure by the current manager and team.

A win over Scunthorpe or draw with MK Dons does little to change the fact that Rovers are only three points off the relegation zone. And for this reason fans’ opinions are split.

Pessimists can see we are heading for League Two based on real results of this squad, and optimists hope a miracle will happen, and it could.

But we already have a team that should be competing near the top. We have half the team from last year as well as several good signings, but for some reason it does not work or we wouldn’t be 17th in League One. There is a fault somewhere or we wouldn’t be where we are.

To say “get a grip” to fans is a bit ambitious at the moment.

A glimmer of hope comes in the form of Andy Butler and Sam Johnstone, but as I said previously we should already have a competitive team.

The problem seems to be one of attitude. We completely lack the courage, determination and soul that we saw from Shrewsbury against Chelsea last week. I doubt Rovers would have done so well if we had drawn Chelsea. Why can’t we go out every match with the determination that we are going to win?

Rotating the squad, instead of sticking to a regular squad that gel proficiently, and changing formations is something you do in friendlies, not league matches where fans are paying good money to watch us constantly going downwards.

Some players are not delivering but it’s still the squad that the manager built and should take responsibility for and he needs to get the best from them.

More work needs to be done at the training ground - failure in set pieces is a schoolboy error.

A nice manager, nice team and nice style of football will only get us a League Two place with an average gate of 3,000 and that’s in no-one’s interest. Motivation is a key factor at the moment and no-one seems to be doing that in the changing room or on the pitch.

I don’t think calling fans a “selfish lot” is justified.

We just want success like fans of any other club, and that success to endure.

I would love to say I support Chelsea, Man City or Liverpool but I have always been, and always will be, a Rovers fan and know we will never have that level of success or support.

We need to figure out what is wrong right now and what to do about it before it is too late.

The departure of John Ryan seems to have taken the soul, enthusiasm and belief out of the club even though he created some of our problems in recent years.

Unjustified optimism, unjustified negativity and getting a grip will not solve our problems.

We need a change in attitude at the club, or a change in the team, or a change in management before we descend to League Two.

Rhetoric will not improve things, only results on the pitch, however we have to achieve them.

Mike Shaw, Sheffield

As possibly one of few Rovers fans living in the Middle East, and having done so throughout the glory years, the sentiment of Wesley Grimes’ piece in last week’s Free Press struck a chord with me.

A little context if you will allow. Last season we all thought we were safe with ten games to go.

Worry set in for me with five games to go. Surely the other results could not keep going our way. We needed points and, after so many years away, I decided to return for three out of the last four games over seven days, in the hope that safety would be secured before the trip to Leicester.

What I saw at the Derby game shocked me.

It was my first visit to the Keepmoat. It’s a great stadium compared to Belle Vue but atmosphere, there was none.

In fact there were sarcastic, self-defeating chants and a sense of hopelessness.

I have to say the quality of the football played by Rovers hardly inspired but I put that down to pressure of the occassion.

I spoke with a number of fans and asked what on earth was the matter?

“Going to Millwall?” was the response. “You will see!”

And they were correct.

The passion, committment, togetherness and sheer sense of a common cause was something I will never forget.

As usual Sam Johnstone played a blinder (what a talent). But you could feel the whole team respond to the support. Paul Dickov gave encouragement for more noise when asked to acknowledge the fans. And what a result in the circumstances of one of the worst sending off decisions I have ever seen.

Follow that with almost total indifference/resignation that nothing could be done to change the course of a match at home against Reading.

Despite the result, we were still alive.

I was fortunate to be able to return for the Leicester game. The atmosphere was electric, all the virtues of the Millwall game were apparent but when everything looked relatively under control the most stupid of fouls saw us concede a penalty.

We are 1-0 down, still safe, but within minutes of going two down the Blues pull one back. We are all hanging on the radio. How do we respond as fans? Is there fire in our bellies still? Honestly I did not feel it. I just did not sense it. I do not think we had a divine right to stay up but I do feel we needed to show more collective fight and desire that was surely there during the rise and rise of the past ten wonderful years.

In any walk of life you must have a common goal and that can never be achieved by undermining those chosen to lead.

Whilst in post, the manager and players must have our full support.

Constructive challenge should be welcomed by all entrusted with the privilege of management. Indeed I believe this is the case at Rovers.

I have no doubt everyone associated with Rovers simply want further success but non of us have a right to it. It requires vision, strategy and hard work (and no little skill).

I believe in the board, the CEO, the management, players and supporters we have more than enough of the above qualities to bring further success in this division, but as supporters our role is all in the name.

Unfortunately sometimes relationships breakdown and fail, but you can never turn your back on your club if you are a true supporter.

Faysal Hadi, Dubai

What do you think? Write to Sportsdesk, Doncaster Free Press, 39 Printing Office Street, Doncaster, DN1 1TP or email sport@doncastertoday.co.uk.