Paul Goodwin: Rovers’ hit and miss start is not surprising in the slightest

Paul Dickov
Paul Dickov

At the ten-game barometer point, sitting 14th in League One with four wins and four defeats to their name, Doncaster could hardly get more middle of the road if they tried.

But that sort of steady but unspectacular start was only to be expected.

Rovers, for the second successive year, were at sixes and sevens during pre-season for well-documented reasons.

And the subsequent impact on recruitment has had an inevitable knock-on effect, with certain players still playing catch-up in terms of fitness and Paul Dickov still searching for the best system(s).

Dickov has not named an unchanged side all season. At times that has been through choice, at other times he has had no choice.

It’s a difficult balancing act for the Scot.

With such an arduous schedule, and so few players, he’s torn between rotation and continuity. Rotating will keep more individuals fresh for when they are needed, but it does little to help a team’s understanding and cohesiveness.

Throw in an injury for talismanic skipper Rob Jones, two red cards for Harry Forrester and a sickness bug in the camp, and Rovers’ hit and miss start becomes even more plausible.

There are clear signs of progress though.

And it would be equally unsurprising to see Rovers steadily gain more consistency over their next ten games.

With each passing game Richie Wellens is getting closer to the match sharpness he lacked upon returning to the first team fray.

Forrester, touch wood, won’t be sent off again for a while.

And the return of Curtis Main should lighten the load on Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson.

Dickov is slowly formulating formulas to get the best out of his players at home and away too.

Marc De Val really looks the part sat in front of the back four in a 4-1-4-1.

While Dickov appears to have ditched the idea of playing Forrester, Kyle Bennett and James Coppinger behind a lone frontman, at least away from home, perhaps realising it’s just one luxury player too many. Two 3-0 defeats when that trio have all started would suggest that is the case.

A top six finish is the target that the players have set themselves.

The up and down nature of the first ten games have been understandable.

The next ten games might just tell us whether that target is indeed a realistic one.