Doncaster Rovers – Understandable Relegation Candidates

I’ve touched on this before, but one of the common traits of modern football supporting, or indeed modern life in general, is that there is no longer a middle ground. Things are either good or bad, brilliant or shit, and any view which occupies a considered central position is labelled as fence-sitting. Similarly when it comes to offering your take on your football team your views are pigeon-holed as either positive or negative; even considered realism will be crowbarred into one of these categories as I discovered earlier this week.

As the editor of one of the longest-serving unofficial Rovers sites on the web, in the summer months I am often asked to contribute to the season previews of other publications. Two of the four requests I accepted went online this week; first up was the mammoth Football League preview put together by the guys behind blog sites The Seventy Two and The Two Unfortunates, and the second was a small piece for The Guardian (the others; When Saturday Comes and World Soccer are out in print but not online). In response to the first of those I received a tweet from Rovers’ fan @sodrokrtid which read; “I was looking forward to the season before I read your article. Talk about glass half empty.”

Similarly on fans forums and on Twitter there have been outraged reactions from Rovers fans at what they perceive as ‘lazy journalism’ from “the so called experts” who have tipped Doncaster to struggle this season. The Guardian/Observer, The Independent, The Telegraph, and Four Four Two have all tipped Rovers to finish in the bottom four, whilst Doncaster are also second favourites for the drop amongst When Saturday Comes’ Championship contributors. Am I the only person who views this as being completely understandable?

Last season Rovers finished 21st having won just four games since November, and indeed all that saved us in the end was the fact that the three sides below were so undeniably and entertainingly hopeless. Preston, Sheffield United and Scunthorpe have now been replaced by Southampton, Brighton and Peterborough and whilst there will be doubts about the last of that trio the Saints and Albion are certainly set to be better prospects than those they passed heading the opposite direction. Thankfully there are other sides around our level; Barnsley, Watford and Palace are the three that spring to mind, Millwall could struggle without Steve Morrison and if Coventry’s side is as buggered as their finances appear to be then they look set for a terrible season.

I don’t think its being pessimistic to put Rovers in the same bracket as those other six relegation candidates highlighted above. Budget wise, we’re in the same ball-park as them, and if you’re looking in from the outside surely its inevitable you’re going to catch sight of the woeful calendar year form and etch a small ‘R’ next to our name. I don’t think the nation’s press are being lazy this time round, a year ago, off the back of two mid-table finishes perhaps, but not off the back of last season.

Of course since my own prediction pieces and those penned by the press the squad has been bolstered, with Ryan Mason joining on a season long lone, additional defensive cover in the form of Oscar Radford and the prospect of a couple more recruits before the season opener. And as we know we’re highly unlikely to see a repeat of last season’s injury crisis, and that’s why I don’t expect Rovers to get relegated. However, with money kicking about the top end of this division, and the increased quality of the sides coming up from the third tier you would have to possess all manner of rose-tinted head-gear to be adamant of a Rovers finish any higher than 14th. Of course I really hope that last sentence comes back to haunt me, but this is not negativity, my glass isn’t half-empty… it’s just a glass in which I perceive there to be some liquid.


About glen wilson

Former schoolboy, Glen Wilson writes on football and travel and has been editor of the award-winning popular STAND fanzine since before the award.


7 thoughts on “Doncaster Rovers – Understandable Relegation Candidates

  1. Totally agree, being a realist doesn’t mean you’re a plastic, wish more people would understand this!

    Posted by jezzerh | August 4, 2011, 11:29 am
  2. Absolutely correct, after xmas last season we were woeful at times, no wonder we are the bookies favourites. I personally think we have the squad to turn it around if the motivation is there, but it is a worry!

    Posted by Paul | August 4, 2011, 11:45 am
  3. You’ve failed to mention the signing of Bouhenna. Typical lazy journalism….

    Posted by Sheepskin Stu | August 4, 2011, 11:54 am
  4. I fortold the inevitable signings once this piece was written with the words; “and the prospect of a couple more recruits before the season opener.”

    Posted by glen wilson | August 4, 2011, 1:16 pm
  5. I think it’s difficult for pundits to give anything other than a general view, and a cursory glance at our league form in 2011, the goals conceded, points gained (or lack of) and position finished would indeed suggest we are relegation contenders.

    From a fan’s point of view, we are closer to the team, we can see the changes and the new signings and we understandably come to a different conclusion. Expecting pundits and football writers to have an overview of every new signing at every club, or an in-depth analysis of the previous season, is just not realistic. Which is why some of the papers and blogs come to ‘the likes of Glen’ to get a more balanced view.

    So on paper, yes, we are relegation contenders. That said, I think we’ll be okay.

    For what it’s worth, the worst teams I saw last season, in terms of how little they offered in terms of inventiveness or fight or creativity, were Watford, Coventry and Palace. But not being close to those teams, I don’t know if they have made some amazing signings over summer (though my guess is, probably not). But nor we should we expect anyone else to know in detail what has been going at DRFC.

    Expecting that to happen, is, in a way, a kind of footballing parochialism.

    Posted by markusparkus75 | August 4, 2011, 2:15 pm
  6. There’s a certain overall consensus amongst a large number of football fans that “bigger is better”, and that the “big” teams should all be in the top divisions whilst “the likes of Doncaster” should remain on the peripherals for occasional light amusement in cup tournaments, along with the rest of the “small” clubs.

    I say consensus, I should mention that these are nearly all exclusively fans (or “followers”, I should say) of the Premiership Big 4 or Big 6 as you might call it now.

    Even though Blackpool were the best and most exciting thing about the Premiership last season, most of the comments I’ve read from these fans seem to suggest that it’s a good thing they’ve gone down again.

    Apparently, what really matters to these people is “having a good day out” in a “big stadium that’s full”.

    As such, I’ve concluded that we’re unwelcome guests in the Championship, and these inevitable predictions of our demise are often as much of a result of wishful thinking as they are of lazy, badly researched journalism.

    I totally accept that we’re punching above our weight and for the past three years pre-season I’ve said I’d be happy with 21st and so I’ve remained happy and optimistic throughout. Even after the initial unpleasantness of the first season when the morons were screaming for SOD’s head on a plate before Christmas. I totally accept that we’re more likely go down to League 1 again than we are to go up to the Premiership.

    Maybe we’ll go down this season, or maybe we’ll loiter for another ten years or more yet, pissing off the big teams by refusing to lie down in the face of adversity.

    Ultimately though I see no purpose in rampant pessimism in football. Whilst it’s a popular hobby for a sizeable portion of Rovers fans, I’m yet to see any evidence of it helping the situation.

    RTID. Roll on Saturday 🙂

    Posted by Lazarus | August 4, 2011, 3:34 pm
    • Refreshing comments, Glen and I agree wholeheartedly with them. I’ve come in for a bit of ‘negative’ stick on the forum of late for trying to balance the heady expectation of a few of our supporters. You’re absolutely right, IMO, but the rose-tinted amongst our supporters cannot see past their spectacles at times. Onwards and, hopefully, upwards!

      Posted by Alan | August 4, 2011, 11:16 pm

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