THE rise and rise of Doncaster Rovers has been something of a soap opera in recent years.
But they’re in danger of fluffing their lines in a big way this season.
A four-game losing run - on the back of a vibrant display at home to Wolves - certainly wasn’t in the script.
And there’ll need to be a significant improvement - and a fair amount of soul-searching - if there’s to be a happy ending to Rovers’ latest Championship chapter.
Tuesday night’s dismal derby defeat to Barnsley was the most uninspiring performance for quite some time.
And that’s putting it kindly.
Rovers never got going, there was no spark, and the only rhythm to their performance was provided by the Keepmoat Stadium drummer.
The simplest of passes are going astray.
Too often the ball is being pumped long into the channels.
And hopeful crosses from distance seem to have become the sole method of supplying in-form striker Billy Sharp.
The confidence and belief that was oozing just a few weeks ago has drained out of Doncaster - and when the opposition have the audacity to score you can times that by ten.
It’s probably a case that Rovers are currently trying a little bit too hard to right the wrongs of the last fortnight.
There’s also a nervousness about the team’s potential to concede soft goals and self-implode.
It’s like a ticking time bomb.
And the bomb has an annoying habit of going off in the second half - like it did at Portman Road on Saturday and again when Rovers rolled over for a very mediocre Barnsley outfit.
The run of defeats could hardly have come at a worse time given that Doncaster are in the midst of their busiest spell of the season.
But it just needs one moment of magic, a clean sheet or a last-minute winner to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Rovers seem to be lacking a bit of leadership at the moment.
Almost every goal that has been conceded this month has been greeted by an angry wave of flailing arms and wagging fingers of blame.
At least that shows that the players care - but it’s not going to do anything for confidence.
Brian Stock is targeting the Millwall game for a comeback and the return of his calming influence in the middle of the park can’t come quickly enough.
It was a baptism of fire for Paul Keegan on Tuesday night and the Irishman failed to really grab his chance with both hands.
John Oster is way off the standards he set last term, while Dean Shiels continues to find himself in good positions without delivering a final product.
It’s a time for introspection and deliberation - and a blank weekend is the perfect opportunity for everyone to take stock.
It’s not a time to panic.
But when Burnley visit the Keepmoat next week it’s time to deliver a performance - and not just for the first 45 minutes.
Rovers need to stop the rot quickly.
But after falling victim to the ‘new manager syndrome’ at Paul Jewell’s Ipswich, there’s a real danger the same could happen against Eddie Howe’s Burnley.
Rovers 0 Burnley 0