Doncaster Rovers: Top two or bust for Rovers

Rovers chairman John Ryan
Rovers chairman John Ryan
Have your say

RATHER than a rare afternoon spent watching Jeff Stelling, Rovers could have really done with a game on Saturday.

They can’t come quickly enough at the moment.

The mood at Cantley Park during the week, relaxed and jovial, said everything about the club’s current feel-good factor.

A sense of spirit, unity and, importantly, fun has been restored after a season that divided not just the dressing room but supporters too.

So it was a real shame that MK Dons weren’t available as Rovers sought to build on a run of nine wins from their last 12 in League One.

But it’ll take more than a blank weekend to stop this Doncaster bandwagon in its tracks. Destination Championship anyone?

It’s remarkable looking back at last summer, when 20 playing contracts expired and weren’t renewed, leaving Dean Saunders with barely a starting eleven, that Rovers should now find themselves in such an unexpected position of strength.

This was meant to be a season of consolidation. Even John Ryan, ever-the-optimist, would have settled for mid-table mediocrity.

But such is the experience and desire within the four walls of the Doncaster dressing room, which is full credit to Saunders’ patient recruitment policy, anything less than a top two finish would now be regarded as failure.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a failure. Anything but.

But the fact is anything less than a top two finish WOULD be regarded as a failure by the current squad and manager.

Unlike the vast majority of sides in League One, Doncaster’s squad is packed full of players with Championship, even Premier League, experience. Players like David Cotterill, Iain Hume and Tommy Spurr believe they should be playing at a higher level.

Players like Gary Woods, James Husband and Kyle Bennett are aspiring to reach the very top level.

And those like Rob Jones, James Harper and James Coppinger have been there and got the T-shirt.

It’s the perfect mix, and even on the sidelines there’s a culture of class and quality.

Robbie Blake, for instance, might not have played as much as he’d liked, but his experience and quality just adds to the sense of belief in the dressing room. It’s that focus that is driving Doncaster on.

The first real acid test will be when Brian Flynn and Jones have to deal with their first defeat.

There’ll be ups and downs guaranteed between now and April. But for now, Saturday’s trip to Bury just can’t come soon enough.