Doncaster are title contenders, they just don’t know it yet

By Jack Peat 

Seven games into the season and Doncaster Rovers sit one point above the relegation zone, yet to win at home and already hit by injury woes; hardly the start dreams are made of, but it’s not all doom and gloom for Donny.

For the people on the terraces at Ashton Gate at the weekend – most of whom were calling for Dickov’s head and lambasted the players at full time – forgiving our apathetic start may seem foolish, but I see plenty of potential in the squad.

What’s missing at this early stage is familiarity both within the squad and from the guys in the dugout, which is hardly surprising given the summer we endured. The Romlinson deal went spectacularly wrong and left Dickov in an uncompromising position of having to assemble a squad with limited budget and limited time, which all things considered, he did a pretty good job of.

So far the results haven’t gone our way, but apart from the Bristol City game we’ve yet to get panned and we’ve already registered some impressive wins this season, notably Watford away, but we got off to a cracking start at Huish Park with a 3-0 win. And even against the Robins, who sit comfortably at the top of the table, I felt we could have come away from that with a point if it weren’t for four silly mistakes.

The Bristol game did highlight our defensive frailties, namely in the shape of Cedric Evina and Jamie McCombe, the former who would probably still be deciding how to clear the ball now if he wasn’t intercepted on the goal line and the latter who has the technical agility of a praying mantis. I think it’s time to start using the youth in defence. Give Liam Wakefield a chance, he could be the next James Husband with enough game time. 

The other thing that is blissfully obvious is that the 4-5-1 formation isn’t working. Our midfield is packed with potential, Harry Forrester looks like a real prospect and he’s supported with the experienced heads of James Coppinger and Richie Wellens; Kyle Bennett is even looking back to his best. But this creates a problem if there’s no synergy with the strikers. Both at Bristol City and at Colchester the ball was getting stuck up in the midfield. Nathan Tyson, when given his chance, has showed his lightning pace could really liberate the midfield potential, so let’s switch it up Dickov!

A win against Chesterfield this weekend could give us the confidence we need to go to Craven Cottage and do struggling Fulham. When Forrester gets back from suspension and if we can get a good run out of Rob Jones I think things could pick up for Donny quite quickly. We’ve got a title winning team here, they just need to realise it.

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