Shrimps' positive start, Stephen Robinson and the key men: Morecambe's ex-Rovers media man gives lowdown on Saturday's opponents
With Doncaster Rovers bottom of the league and yet to win this season, Saturday’s game at home to newly-promoted Morecambe already has a crucial feel to it.
For one man in the Shrimps camp it will also have extra significance.
Ryan Daly made a summer switch to the Mazuma Stadium to take up the post of head of media and communications for the League One new boys – and you may recognise him.
Before joining the EFL, Ryan worked in the media department at Rovers.
We caught up with him ahead of this weekend’s game.
How are you settling in at Morecambe and what have been your first impressions of the club?
It has been a whirlwind start to my time at Morecambe.
We have had a lot to do since I started back on August 2, with things such as the team photoshoot, media day, as well as travelling to Ipswich Town and Gillingham in the opening month of the season.
The club as a whole is brilliant. It’s a real cliche but it has a real family feel to it, starting from the two co-chairmen, Rod Taylor and Graham Howse, all the way down the chain.
Myself and media assistant Matt Smith have been busy implementing new things, stuff which is second nature to me, mainly due to the time that I spent at Club Doncaster a few years ago.
What are your thoughts on the way your new club has taken to life in League One?
I don’t think we could have asked for a better start really. Maybe if we were being really picky we could have held out for three points against Ipswich and made more of our possession against Gillingham.
But I think seven points after five games is impressive for a newly-promoted team.
We took a huge scalp in the form of Sheffield Wednesday to close the opening month of the season, winning 1-0 at home in a game that the Owls dominated.
We’ve played three of the most fancied teams in the league already this season and have provided a tough challenge in each of those games, so I am hoping that we can play to that level throughout the campaign.
Stephen Robinson was firmly in the running for the Doncaster job prior to the appointment of Richie Wellens. What kind of impression has he made at the Mazuma Stadium and what is he like to work with?
Stephen has been brilliant, the fans have really bought into what he is trying to do and how he wants to play football and I personally think he’s done well in the short space of time he has been here.
Him and first team coach Diarmuid O’Carroll together are really helpful when it comes to the media side, nothing is ever off the table and they always try and accommodate where possible.
For me working alongside Stephen on a regular basis is an easy one.
He is used to a more hostile environment coming from Motherwell, with the amount of newspapers and radio stations looking for a line, whereas here you have maybe two or three reporters that want to speak to him. I haven’t had to worry about him saying anything out of the ordinary as of yet.
But overall he’s brilliant, he gets that we all have a job to do and is happy to help where possible.
It was a busy summer of recruitment at Morecambe – what was the best bit of business?
I think it is really difficult to pinpoint the best bit of business because there has been so many new arrivals! There’s been 18 signings, whether that is a new signing or loan deals.
Personally I think the loan signing of Jokull Andresson will be key – he’s a young goalkeeper from Reading, an Iceland U21 international, and he is just a solid goalkeeper.
You might look at the goal he conceded against Rotherham and say it was a mistake on his part, and you might be right, but he certainly made up for it in the win against Sheffield Wednesday.
He is commanding, a towering figure and claims everything that enters his six-yard box.
I think he will progress into one of the best goalkeepers in the division and he is learning from one of the best in club legend Barry Roche.
How do you expect Morecambe to play at the Keepmoat Stadium?
Stephen likes to set his side up to try and dominate possession but be clinical on the break.
I think the best way that I can describe it to Donny fans is how Rovers played under Grant McCann the season they made the play-off semi-finals.
He has a hold up man in Cole Stockton who brings others into play but knows where the back of the net is, two pacy wide men and a midfield three that rotate throughout the game but have real quality within the ranks.
I think we will head there in a positive mindset, mainly due to how we have started and how Rovers have started as well.
It will be an interesting battle but I am confident that we can score a few goals.
Who would you pick out as your key men this weekend?
I think Cole Stockton is the obvious choice, recently named as the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for August and a key man inside the Morecambe ranks.
That’s not just for his goals but for his forward play as a whole – he reminds me of how John Marquis used to play during his time at the Keepmoat.
Anthony O’Connor is another, an Irishman who is solid at the back and at the heart of the defence.
He built a string understanding with Sam Lavelle before he departed for Charlton Athletic on deadline day, so it will be interesting to see who comes in to that spot.
My third and final one is Alfie McCalmont. He made his first senior start for Northern Ireland in the last international break and impressed during their 1-0 friendly win over Estonia.
He’s on loan from Premier League side Leeds United and you can tell that he has a lot of talent and will go on to have a successful career.
What have you made of Doncaster’s start to the season?
I have to say I have been disappointed with Donny this season, I don’t think I expected them to be where they are now.
I think the defeat on the opening day against AFC Wimbledon set the tone for how the first couple of games would go.
Although the Papa John’s Trophy isn’t always at the front of everyone’s thinking, a 6-0 defeat to your rivals is not going to help.
Personally, I like Richie Wellens – he’s a straight-talking Mancunian who will pull the club out of the slump.
I know there is some discontent from the fans towards the ownership but, knowing Donny fans, they will always get behind their team no matter what is happening elsewhere.
What’s your score prediction?
We have a lot of fight and spirit in the camp which was shown on Saturday against AFC Wimbledon when we came from a goal down to go 2-1 up – but we eventually ended up on the wrong side of a 4-3 defeat.
Donny are still searching for their first win of the season and will probably look at Morecambe as one of the teams to get that against but I think we will surprise them.
I’m going to go 3-1 to Morecambe, a couple from Stockton and one from Shane McLoughlin.
The one from Tommy Rowe for Donny, just because I love Tommy Rowe!