Paul Goodwin: The psychology behind Billy Sharp’s big impact

Billy Sharp
Billy Sharp

Billy Sharp brings more than just goals to Doncaster Rovers - he brings a belief they are always in the game.

The stats since Sharp returned speak volumes about the scale of his impact.

With him in the side Rovers have lost one in seven, picking up 12 points in the process. Without him Rovers drew with Barnsley and lost at Yeovil and Bournemouth.

Sharp’s three goals to date have been timely ones too. His equaliser at Blackpool and late winner against Watford earned his side three points they seem destined to miss out on. His first goal against Huddersfield also helped banish the painful memories of Bournemouth a week previously and pave the way for a springboard victory.

But it’s more than Billy’s knack of finding the net which has helped Rovers clamber five points clear of danger; it’s the very fact that he is there which has transformed the psyche of Rovers’ relegation-threatened squad.

There is an inherent belief inside the Doncaster dressing room that, in there, there is more than enough quality to stave off the threat of relegation.

But each and every member of the squad is only too aware that Rovers are an entirely different proposition with and without Sharp in the starting line-up.

‘Unsubbable’ was boss Paul Dickov’s description of his star striker after he popped up with his injury time winner against Watford. It’s hard to argue.

With Sharp lurking, his teammates know they are only one pass, cross or even bouncing ball from Billy finding the net. He has that ability to be in the right place at the right time, a habit of scoring goals out of nothing.

And that sort of game-changing player, by definition, breeds positivity in both performance and mind-set.

I spoke to Billy after his Huddersfield goal. He spoke in an intense fashion, like a man focused solely on scoring goals and keeping his beloved Doncaster in this division.

Among his teammates, he’s the Billy we’ve all come to know and love: relaxed, jovial, good company and at the heart of the dressing room banter.

He likes a laugh that’s for sure - and it’s his sheer presence that has got Rovers smiling and winning again.