Remember this? Michael McIndoe squeezing the ball beyond Manuel Almunia to give Rovers an early lead in the 2005 Carling Cup Quarter Final. I’ve experiences many a great atmosphere in my time following Rovers, but this goal (even more so than Paul Green’s extra-time) caused the Belle Vue to shake like no other moment. The anticipation had been building up to kick-off, backed by a decent weight of expectation after wins over Manchester City and Aston Villa and just four minutes in this goal not just lifted the lid on that pent up excitement, but effectively shot it across the room like a Champagne cork. Cup nights at the Keepmoat Stadium may not hold the “what the hell are we doing here” factor for visiting top flight teams like Belle Vue did, but nights like that mean that Arsene Wenger, David O’Leary and Stuart Pearce could all offer sage advice to Harry Redknapp should he be in any danger of taking this game lightly.
At this stage of the Carling Cup it is arguable that there is no bigger draw than Tottenham Hotspur. Sure Manchester City may have begun playing with the ‘data editor’ of world football in assembling their current squad, but we’ve been there and done that right? Tottenham have been in the last two finals of this competition, defeating Chelsea in 2008 and succumbing to Manchester United last year, as far as the Carling Cup goes, they are the team to beat. Indeed, they are pretty much the team to beat in any competition right now as three games into the new Premier League season Spurs have looked the most convincing of any of the hyped up sides competing in the self-proclaimed ‘best league in the world’. They won’t win it obviously, but they look good.
Money may not be able to buy you love, nor happiness, but it has helped Harry Redknapp forge a career in football management. In less than a year at Tottenham the Premier League’s own market trader has spent more than £60million on players to give Spurs an embarrassment of riches in squad terms. Suggestions online are that at Doncaster Redknapp could field some of his lesser used players to give them a run-out, you know, the nearly men, like England international Peter Crouch and Russia international Roman Pavlyuchenko. However you look at it, quite frankly that shits on Lewis Guy. In case you hadn’t guessed I’m not a fan of Harry Redknapp, and whilst I acknowledge that his Spurs team look very good this season I can’t help but question what he would be able to achieve in the Premier League without millions of pounds at his disposal.
Of course he wasn’t always a splash the cash kind of manager lounging around playing Mario-Kart with his inexplicably attractive family. Harry Redknapp began his management career with Bournemouth in the 1980s, a notoriously cash-strapped club, and amongst his playing staff on the South Coast was a certain Sean O’Driscoll. The current Rovers manager joined Bournemouth from Fulham a year into Redknapp’s reign, but would remain with the Cherries until fifteen years after Redknapp had left. Like Harry, O’Driscoll’s first management role came at Bournemouth, but in management terms that’s as far as the career and nature of the two travel together before veering off in very different directions.
Redknapp is of course the media’s go-to guy, and is much loved amongst the tabloid press for his willingness to provide a soundbite or a quote. He appears to revel in the wheeler-dealer barrow-boy tag afforded him and should Sky Sports produce any kind of programme or preview on football that involves a few talking heads you can pretty much guarantee Redknapp senior will be one of them. So removed from this approach is Sean O’Driscoll that he’s quite literally barely audible. Quiet, self-effacing, meticulous and under-stated O’Driscoll just focuses on the task in hand and displays an admirable stoicism in refusing to be drawn into media hyperbole. In terms of personality and conduct O’Driscoll is in many ways, the anti-Redknapp.
As sure as day follows night, Steve Brooker and Sean McDaid will be in the Rovers treatment room. Rumour has it the two are holding out until they are offered a sit-com based in the medical room with a running gag in which they are both just about set to return only to be injured again in some hilarious denouement. The current supporting cast in the Brooker and McDaid Show (working title) are Jos Van Nieuwstadt and James O’Connor, although the BBC suggests there are also doubts over Brian Stock and Jamie Coppinger for this fixture. Whilst Coppinger may be replaced by John Spicer, I would be very surprised were Stock not passed fit to play. One bit of positive news though is the return of Martin Woods who was kept out of the Middlesbrough game with a calf injury.
As I suggested above, according to the BBC and other outlets, Harry Redknapp is expected to rest several members of the team which put his Spurs side top of the Premier League including Luka Modric, Wilson Palacios, and at least one of Robbie Keane or Jermaine Defoe. According to the BBC this will open the door to fringe players like David Bentley and Jamie O’Hara, not to mention Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko; in short Tottenham’s fringe is of Slade’s Dave Hill proportions.
Predicted Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1):Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Adam Lockwood, Jason Shackell Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Brian Stock, Martin Woods; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels, Paul Heffernan
subs:Ben Smith, Sam Hird, Mark Wilson, Quinton Fortune, John Spicer, James Hayter, Lewis Guy
Tottenham fans presumably making their first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium can find a wealth of information on the new ground, including where to park, how to get there on foot and by car, and where to grab a pre-match drink in the Keepmoat Stadium section of this website.
Following the Game from Afar
If you are unable to attend the game fear not as there are many ways to follow the action. The game is being broadcast live on Digital Radio via BBC Radio FiveLive Sports Extra and I’m told is also being covered by BBC Radio Sheffield. And, more importantly, we’ll be covering it too; Viva Rovers will be delivering regular updates through our twitter feed. Either follow vivarovers on twitter or keep an eye on the ‘Twitter Updates’ box on this website, and you will get to enjoy our account of the game in bursts of 140 characters, and pictures too.