Revealed: Doncaster Rovers have gone from title-winning to relegation form
The remarkable contrast between Doncaster Rovers’ early to mid-season form and their recent results has to be seen to be believed.
Rovers have literally gone from title-winning form to relegation form – and the numbers make for bewildering reading.
The new-look team put together by Darren Moore started this season in encouraging but mixed fashion. There were victories over Charlton, Portsmouth and Ipswich but defeats to Wigan, Crewe and Plymouth. Rovers took 13 points from their opening eight games.
But then it clicked. And it clicked in quite incredible fashion.
Ben Whiteman’s stunning volley earned a 1-0 win over leaders Lincoln City and sparked a sensational run of 11 wins from 15 games.
Rovers got into their groove and began swatting teams away with performances full of verve and confidence.
In 15 games from October 31 to February 6 they collected an incredible 35 points from a possible 45 at a PPG ratio of 2.33. That’s 107 points over a full season!
It wasn’t just a case of Doncaster being flat track bullies either. Lincoln were beaten twice, there were wins over Blackpool, Gillingham and Oxford and a draw with Sunderland.
Rovers failed to score only once and kept five clean sheets in those 15 games.
The 3-1 defeat at Fleetwood on February 9, which saw Tom Anderson go off injured early in the game, was when the season began to spectacularly come apart at the seams.
Rovers have collected just nine points from their last 13 games – a PPG ratio of 0.69. That’s 32 points over a full season. Relegation.
Furthermore, those 13 games have seen Rovers fail to score six times (five of those in the last six games) and keep just one clean sheet.
It’s a staggering contrast in fortunes – from the sublime to the ridiculous – and you can point at numerous factors.
Moore’s shock departure to Sheffield Wednesday was announced on March 1 – slap bang in the middle of this slide.
When we asked Rovers fans in a poll what they thought was the biggest factor in the collapse, the highest percentage (32.2%) chose the exit of Whiteman in January.
The condensed fixture list has also seen Rovers play almost as many games in the last two months as they did during the three-month purple patch.
This small Rovers squad, hit by some injuries to key players, has seemingly wilted under the strain of so many games in such a short space of time and the travelling that goes with that.
Throw in the fact that the back-up players have simply not been good enough, a chronic lack of confidence and the uncertainty over new contracts and you have a recipe for problems.
Butler has ten games left to save the season and make a case for being the next permanent manager but it now looks like a monumental task to pick this team up off the floor and get them firing again.