Paul Goodwin: Doncaster Rovers require ruthless streak if they are to prosper
If there's one characteristic of manager Darren Ferguson that has come to the fore since he took charge of Doncaster Rovers, it's his ruthlessness.
But it is something he needs to see much, much more of in his team if they are to challenge for automatic promotion this season.
Ferguson is not one to pussy foot around.
If you make a bad mistake, cost the team a goal or fail to pull your weight, the chances are you’ll be hauled off pretty quickly or dropped.
Just ask Thorsten Stuckmann, Andy Butler, Cedric Evina and Mitchell Lund, all of whom at one time or another fell very quickly fell out of favour with the Scot last season.
Whether Ferguson can be so combustive with a squad that is now made up of more than 50 per cent of players he has himself brought to the club, when the clear intention is to foster togetherness and team spirit, is a moot point. He might now be more inclined to put an arm round under-performing players rather than instantly give them the hook.
There were signs in midweek though that his ruthlessness has not really mellowed.
Lund, Ross Etheridge, Riccardo Calder and captain James Coppinger all paid the price for underwhelming performances in the opening day defeat at Accrington Stanley by being left out against Nottingham Forest - although those changes may also have been pre-planned.
However, there can be no doubt that Ferguson has to find a way of injecting his own decisiveness and ruthlessness into a team that has won just three times this calendar year, starting with tomorrow’s visit of Crawley Town.
It will be no surprise at all if Dermot Drummy sets Crawley up with ten men behind the ball, because over the last couple of years it has become a sure-fire way of frustrating Rovers, and often getting the better of them, at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Keep things tight, let Doncaster come onto you, frustrate them, and then hit them on the break. We’ve seen it time and time again in recent times.
So Rovers do not just have to continue the encouraging signs they showed in the second half against Forest this weekend, but they quickly need to start showing a more ruthless side to their game if they are to prosper this season.
If they get a good chance, particularly when the score is still 0-0, they need to take it. They have gone behind in both games this season and they can’t afford, like the second half of last season, to be chasing games all the time.
And if they’re in a position of strength heading into the closing stages, they need to see the game out by whatever means possible.