Star man reveals how Grant McCann has changed the culture at Doncaster Rovers and the key reasons behind their top six finish
The power of positivity has helped fuel Doncaster Rovers’ rise into the League One play-offs.
That was the verdict of top scorer John Marquis after Rovers secured a top six finish with a workmanlike victory over Coventry City.
Kieran Sadlier’s first half header and Marquis’s 85th minute tap-in sealed a hard earned 2-0 win to set up a play-off semi-final with Charlton Athletic.
It also afforded Rovers boss Grant McCann the last laugh – as seventh-placed Peterborough United, who sacked McCann last year and by a quirk of fate are now once again managed by former Doncaster boss Darren Ferguson, missed out on the end of season lottery despite beating Burton Albion.
Afterwards, Marquis praised the culture that McCann has created at the Keepmoat Stadium since he arrived last summer.
“He’s brought loads of positivity. Everything is positive,” said Marquis.
“After a negative there’s always a positive reaction.
“Whenever you give the ball away, make sure you run and get the ball back. Be positive after a negative all the time. Everyone is human, no one means to make mistakes. They’re natural things that happen.
“It’s just working to make sure as a team we’re pulling in the same direction. There's people that probably haven’t played as much as they’d like – we’ve got a good squad – but no one has chucked their toys out of the pram.
“We’re really together and that shows a good, strong team ethic, and that comes from the gaffer.
“I've had managers that are positive but this gaffer is very positive all the time.
“We have positive meetings, and he loves showing me my goals all the time. As silly as it sounds you like to see yourself doing well, and if he keeps showing you it you start feeling good about yourself.
“Things like that do make a difference and it’s obviously helped this season.”
Sixth place represents a big improvement on last season’s 15th place finish – under Ferguson.
“We’ve added good quality, that’s quite obvious,” reasoned Marquis.
“For people so young, in Herbie [Kane] and Mallik [Wilks], they have made a big difference.
“You look at Ben Whiteman and he’s playing a deep-lying role whereas last season he was more on the side of a diamond. He’s obviously now got another 40 or 50 games under his belt so he’s developed massively.
“We’ve got a left-footer playing left back which last season we didn’t have for a lot of the time. For Danny [Andrew] to come back from his injury and be as consistent as he has for the whole season is a testament to himself.
“We’ve had good competition for places throughout the whole team. You can take one or two out and it doesn’t really make a difference whereas last season it did.
“And we’ve scored a lot of goals. We might’ve conceded a few but it's entertaining football to watch and it entertaining football to play in. I’m happy with what we’ve done so far but this is just the start.”
STORY OF THE MATCH
For around 25 minutes everything was going the way you hoped it would not. Rovers were nervous, Coventry had settled and, elsewhere, Posh were leading.
But the home side gained in confidence after Marquis latched onto a superb ball over the top from James Coppinger and tested the reactions of Lee Burge.
Minutes later they crucially scored the opening goal when Wilks did brilliantly to cross for Sadlier to head home at the back stick.
To their credit the visitors kept on probing but Marko Marosi was rarely troubled.
And it was fitting that it was Marquis who popped up in the closing stages to net his 25th goal of the season, tapping home after Burge had saved his initial downward header, to send the Keepmoat wild with joy.
Fitting too that Rovers finished the job on home soil, where they have been so good. They have the fourth best home record in the division, behind Luton Town, Charlton and Barnsley.
Now they must put it to good use against the Addicks on Sunday.