SO much for Dean Saunders being a ‘lucky manager’, writes Paul Goodwin.
Everything Saunders has touched has turned to goals this season - from summer signings to second half substitutions.
Just for the record, I don’t mean Dean is lucky in a condescending way; just some managers seem to enjoy more fortune than others.
Of course, Dean will say it has nothing at all to do with luck, more good judgement.
However, my point is the fortune that has favoured Saunders’ Doncaster this season ran out in spectacular fashion against Sheffield United as everything conspired against them in the closing stages.
This weekend Saunders has to earn his luck by making a potentially tricky call against Colchester United.
Billy Paynter’s three-game ban and Chris Brown’s niggling groin injury does not just reinforce the need to add more depth to the striking ranks in the January transfer window.
But, if both Paynter and Brown are unavailable on Saturday, it also provides Saunders with a difficult dilemma regarding in-form midfielder David Syers.
Does he push Syers into the striker role in which he shone at Preston and at home to Hull City earlier in the season, and recall James Harper in midfield?
Or stick with Syers in the middle and hand a rare opportunity to teenage front man Jordan Ball, something of a lucky mascot himself after scoring with his first touch against Chesterfield in the JPT.
Searching for a winning formula at home, one to match Rovers’ stunning habit of picking up results on the road, Saunders found something worth pursuing against the Blades by partnering Syers with Paul Keegan in the middle.
The pair worked well together, Keegan happy to sit and protect, while Syers ran beyond the front men, as he did to win the penalty which Paynter converted.
Doncaster were more of a threat going forward with Syers in midfield, and that’s why Saunders will be reluctant to move the energetic Syers out of the engine room.
Harper had his most effective game for a while against Preston and might have been somewhat surprised to have been left out against the Blades.
His partnership with Keegan is perfect away from home, where the two of them can simply form a defensive shield and help to soak up pressure, leaving the counter-attacking to David Cotterill and Kyle Bennett.
But at home, where sides are happy to set up two defensive banks of four, Rovers need that little bit extra from midfield.
There has been too much onus on Cotterill and Hume during the first half of the season, and it’s time for other players to come to the fore.
So, if Saunders reckons Ball is not ready for the step up, which his lack of involvement since his goal would suggest, what is the solution?
Well, this weekend could be the perfect opportunity to recall James Coppinger.
Coppinger is too good a player to be sitting on the bench every week in League One, and Rovers will be keen to make sure one of their highest paid players is earning his corn.
Rovers could do with a lift after their derby dejection and Coppinger could be the man to provide that.
He certainly lifted the crowd on Tuesday, simply by pulling a red and white jersey on again.
Rovers’ derby woes pale into insignificance when you consider Colchester’s seven-game losing streak. The U’s are there for the taking.
An offensive quartet of Hume, Coppinger, Cotterill and Bennett will be too hot to handle for the strugglers.
Doncaster were more dynamic with Syers in midfield and if he stays there this weekend they can quickly put their derby disappointment behind them.
Luck should not even come into it.