Why we'll never tire of the cliche about Ben Whiteman at Doncaster Rovers: Liam Hoden column

His sublime goal against Lincoln City is currently being watched again in the thousands - and rightly so.

By Liam Hoden
Friday, 13th November 2020, 5:00 pm

Whether Ben Whiteman’s strike is ultimately voted October’s goal of the month in League One remains to be seen.

Such an honour may come as a surprise to the Rovers skipper, who described the stunning volley to finish a move he himself started as ‘lucky.’

And he gives the impression he would take being bestowed such a prize very much in his stride.

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Ben Whiteman

Greater honours surely await a player who it can be justifiably claimed is the best in his position in League One.

A player who would seemingly have little trouble settling into life in the upper reaches of the Championship - despite what a certain Austrian coach who until recently frequented this part of the world may think.

A player whose future is as bright as any who have pulled on the red and white hoops in a very long time.

Rovers’ own hopes of securing prizes of their own are so much stronger with Whiteman as part of the quest. And with Whiteman leading it.

It has become almost cliche to say with the closing of a transfer window that keeping hold of the skipper is the best piece of business Rovers have done.

Just because it has been said so many times by so many people does not take away the validity of the statement.

And with each passing transfer window, the sentiment only grows stronger, simply because Whiteman himself only grows stronger.

Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy tie offered fresh perspective on the 24-year-old’s significance to Rovers.

Named among the substitutes, he sat in the stand and acted as if he was one of the coaches, which was particularly important in the absence of Darren Moore and his senior staff due to their period of self-isolation.

On several occasions he spoke to acting assistant boss Nick Buxton about something he had noticed or bellowed out instructions to players. At half time he waited for Andy Butler before pulling the stand-in boss to one side ahead of his team talk.

Much has been said about Whiteman’s developing leadership but the importance of his voice in the group was made incredibly evident on Tuesday night.

That only adds to the value of a player whose improvement shows no signs of slowing.

He has dominated so many games already this season with his ability to control play from the middle of the park.

There were times last season when it appeared teams were succeeding in shutting him out of the game. But even when opposition sides have sought to stop Rovers this term, they have not been able to quieten Whiteman.

He will drop as deep as he needs to in order to receive the ball and move it on, to keep Rovers moving.

He takes the pressure off team mates by always being an option. And he brings out the best in the attacking players with sublime through balls played with superb accuracy.

Rovers would not be the side they are without him. And you wouldn’t find many in the squad who would be offended by such a claim.

That cliche about Rovers’ best bit of business in a transfer window? Hopefully we’ll be repeating it again in early February.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.