I am now exactly half way through my Npower Championship previews, in this feature I will be mulling over my thoughts of Doncaster Rovers. This will be their fourth consecutive season in the Championship, but this time around can they match their highest place finish of 12th which they secured two seasons ago, or will the side which finished 21st last season continue their dismal efforts in this campaign…
In recent campaigns Doncaster Rovers have been very inconsistent, last season Sean O’Driscoll’s side only finished one place above the relegation zone, proving that the club are slowly dismantling as a Npower Championship side. Doncaster will be concentrating on trying to improve last season’s diabolical finish; the only person who can improve that feat is manager Sean O’Driscoll, the experienced 54 year old has guided Donny though the journey of League One promotion all the way up to the heights of second tier football; however O’Driscoll’s journey looks to be heading to a sour finish as a potential relegation battle looks on the cards for the 2011/2012 season. With Billy Sharp a possible transfer casualty, his departure will leave a gaping hole in the Doncaster front line, as new signing Chris Brown is nowhere near capable of matching the 15 goals that Sharp has achieved over past campaigns. A battling season amongst the elite leaders in the Championship will slowly take its toll, meaning that Doncaster could well end up being relegated by May 2012.
With a defence on paper that looks fairly insecure, three attacking players will be the vital sources to Doncaster Rovers in the 2011/2012 campaign. First of all central midfielder Brian Stock who is a season campaigner is the current captain of Doncaster. Stock has great passing ability, but his creativeness side of his game is his main attribute. The 29 year old loves to get his feet on the ball and attack the opposition from the centre of the field; meanwhile out wide another highly rated seasonal campaigner in James Coppinger usually occupies the right flank. 30 years of age, Coppinger has played a vital role at the Keepmoat Stadium for many of seasons, with great attacking flare the former Exeter City player is one of Doncaster’s most dangerous players. Finally even though he has been the subject of a move away from the club, Billy Sharp could well be plying his trade for Donny at the start of the season, early goals in the 11/12 campaign will certainly stand Sean O’Driscoll’s side in good stead. A fantastic goalscorer, Sharp needs to continue his terrific form, whether or not he switches codes Billy Sharp will need to stay full focused on life as a Doncaster Rovers player.
Manager – Sean O’Driscoll
Sean O’Driscoll will take charge of Doncaster for a sixth consecutive season, the Irishman has drove Doncaster through the good times as he managed the side which won the League One play-offs in season 07/08. O’Driscoll has also guided the South Yorkshire side to respectable finishes in the Championship. Last season however the side struggled to maintain their recent success as the club finished on the fringes of the relegation zone, with the division even more difficult than ever before O’Driscoll needs to pull out all the stops. The 54 year old is a very experienced manager and many clubs have tracked his progress in recent years, but Doncaster’s life as a Championship side may well come to a bitter end if O’Driscoll and his side don’t pull their socks up, he still has fight left in his bones but he needs to get the best out of his players or his six year reign as boss could well come to an end aswell.
Ins and Outs
Ins – Tommy Spurr(Sheffield Wed), Kyle Bennett(Bury), Richard Naylor(Leeds), Chris Brown(Preston), Ryan Mason(Tottenham)
Outs – Byron Webster(Northampton), Waide Fairhurst(Macclesfield), Steve Brooker(Released), Denis Souza(Released), Wayne Thomas(Released)
This season is looking very competitive and for a side of Doncaster Rovers calibre, they could well find life in the Championship difficult to detest. Most sides look firmer this season, and due to this Sean O’Driscoll’s side could well be involved in a relegation battle, with goals likely to flow at a sluggish pace and with the defence likely to concede a handful of goals, sadly we might be saying goodbye to Doncaster at the end of the forthcoming season. Prediction – 22nd