James Coppinger has explained why he thinks the present day Doncaster Rovers are ‘the inbetweeners’, compared to the promotion-winning sides of 2008 and 2013.
Rovers’ long serving skipper reckons the club’s inconsistent return to League One can be attributed to a youthful naivety.
That is something the teams built by Sean O’Driscoll and Dean Saunders did not have. They knew how to win games - in very different ways.
And Coppinger says Rovers’ class of 2017 must quickly learn their lesson when it comes to finding a way of winning.
“I’ve been promoted twice out of this division with two different teams and two different managers. Both teams had an abundance of experience,” said Coppinger.
“The team that won the league [in 2013], we didn’t really perform well but we knew how to win games, based on the experience we had in the team.
“Sometimes we came off thinking ‘how have we won that game?’ We weren’t performing well, but it was down to know-how, concentration and understanding how to win games.
“The other one was obviously performance-based with Sean O’Driscoll. It was all about the performance, and we were that good at doing what we did that we ended up getting promoted.
“At the minute I think we’re in between.
“We haven’t got that experience to get out there and win games when we’re not doing well, and we’re not currently performing to our maximum every single game. We’ve shown it against Blackburn, Portsmouth and Southend.
“We’re a third into the season and we are where we are. We’ve been doing well performance-wise but we need to start picking up points and understanding what it takes to win games.”
Coppinger, set to return to the side at Bury today, added: “You go home and you analyse performances and results, and for me I put a lot down to naivety and experience.
“That’s something that makes a difference when you do lose by one or concede in the last minute. I think those things are down to experience.
“Concentration is massive, we talk about it all the time. The higher you go, the longer you have to concentrate for. It’s all learning. We’ve got a really young squad, I think.
“Two senior pros started the game against Walsall - Butts and Rowey. Everyone else is under 25.
“John Marquis is 25 and the rest of the squad is under 23 and a lot of them are probably playing their first season in League One.
“It’s a big ask, the expectation levels are big at this club and we want to do well and we’re all disappointed we’re not higher in the table.
“But sometimes you have to have a reality check and realise this is where we are. We need to understand what we need to get them results.”