Why Doncaster Rovers chief Grant McCann is happy for John Marquis to hit back at critics

Grant McCann: Rovers chief sees similarities with himself and John Marquis.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Grant McCann: Rovers chief sees similarities with himself and John Marquis. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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THE sight of incandescent striker John Marquis taking aim at some detractors on Tuesday night reminded Doncaster Rovers’ manager Grant McCann of someone close to home.

Namely, himself.

It may have been an evening when rampant Rovers threatened to dust down the record books in a 7-0 FA Cup routing of non-league Chorley, but their talismanic forward cut an agitated figure at the final whistle.

Strictly speaking, it was not anything to do with seeing his second-half penalty saved by visiting goalkeeper Matt Unwin.

After witnessing Alfie May take centre-stage with a four-goal return in Rovers’ biggest competitive win in just over 19 years, Marquis finally secured a piece of the action with a super late curler to take his season’s tally to 11.

Not that Rovers’ top-scorer was in the mood for celebrating, instead choosing to walk back matter-of-factly to the centre circle, but not before making a brief ‘keep quiet’ gesture to some supporters in the West Stand who he believed had been on his back.

Four-play: Alfie May celebrates his fourth goal against Chorley.

Four-play: Alfie May celebrates his fourth goal against Chorley.

After the game, McCann expressed empathy for his main frontline striker, whose value to the club is inestimable.

But, equally, he viewed the events in a slightly different light, too.

McCann said: “I noticed that after he (Marquis) scored, he seemed to be shouting at someone in the West Stand.

“To be fair, from where I am stood, I could hear a few fans grumbling at John. He has got 11 goals now and you have got to be careful.

The Doncaster fans love him really and he has been outstanding for this club for two-and-a-half years.

Grant McCann

“I think John is the type of character who does not like people to be on his back. He wants people to love him and we love him. He is imperative to us.

“Maybe he should not do it, but maybe he was getting a bit frustrated when people were shouting at him. That is just John and his character.

“The Doncaster fans love him really and he has been outstanding for this club for two-and-a-half years.

“One or two people’s opinion does not have to define it.

Alfie May celebrates his fourth goal.'(Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Alfie May celebrates his fourth goal.'(Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“I thought John was outstanding with his movement and work-rate. Yes, he could have had a couple more goals and John always wants to score, but his movement was outstanding.”

The notion of criticism from fans sometimes bringing out the best in a player is clearly not lost upon McCann, with the Ulsterman admitting that he used it as a motivational tool in his playing days.

For most, taking a few barbs invariably has a thoroughly negative effect in terms of diluting confidence levels – with a number simply not having a mentality to deal with it.

But, for others, it has the reverse effect and can inspire an ‘I will show you’ type of reaction and serve as a handy source of inspiration in the process.

In that respect, McCann sees plenty of himself in Marquis – and the last thing that he wants to do is change his striker’s mentality and ‘edge’.

He added: “He lives and plays on the edge and we would not have it any other way and I would imagine he would be a nightmare to play against with his movement and overall work-rate.

“If you took that edge away, he would not be half the player. He maybe likes one or two people having a go at him from the reaction when he scored. That is him.

“I have told John that I was a similar type when I played.

“It took people to say things about me or something to happen to rile me to get my best form and that is what John is about. He is an out-and-out winner and we love him.”

Rovers face a selection headache in the heart of defence ahead of Saturday’s League One derby at Barnsley, with Tom Anderson to miss the game through suspension.

Anderson was dismissed for two cautions on Tuesday, with McCann down to just one recognised available senior centre-back at his disposal for the weekend in the shape of Andy Butler.

Options to step in include recent defensive signing Shaun Cummings, although the 29-year-old, who has played most of his career at right-back, has not started a league game since mid-March.

Switching Matty Blair to right-back and moving Niall Mason inside represents another alternative.