Doncaster Rovers v Milton Keynes Dons: Patient approach will put us back on track – Flynn

Brian Flynn has seen enough in his decades in football to know that now is not the time to panic or over-react.

Brian Flynn
Brian Flynn

Doncaster Rovers may have lost successive games and therefore their vice-like grip on an automatic promotion place, but ranting, raving and remonstrating about it is not going to help their cause.

A coolness under pressure is what is required, and in Flynn, Rovers have the perfect calming influence.

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He has seen it all in a career that spans 40 years and, when asked if there is any special ingredient his players must provide as they look to get their season back on track tonight, he believes there is only one answer.

“Patience,” said the 57-year-old Welshman.

“It’s a big thing. Patience with each other, patience on the pitch.

“When you’re patient you can make the right decisions. If you’re hot-headed and you get disappointed too many times then your decision-making becomes cloudy.

“It’s important the players make the right decisions on the pitch, and they have done through most of the season.

“People do make mistakes, but the question is, can you make amends? That’s the important thing, and that’s part of a team spirit which they have got.

“If somebody makes a mistake don’t crucify that player. Ask them, can you get over that?”

Form comes and goes during a marathon 46-game season, but such has been the positive vibes emanating from the Keepmoat Stadium they have become unaccustomed to disappointment.

Even a change in the dugout from Dean Saunders to Flynn resulted in not even the slightest halt to their momentum.

Yet all teams suffer dips, with the measure being how they react.

And Flynn is confident that the reaction from his side will be a strong one.

“We’ve just emphasised the reasons why we are joint top of the league and why we have had success this year,” said Flynn, who has attempted to nip any nagging doubts in the bud early.

“The players have realised that, they just needed polishing up on certain things.

“Early on in the season we lost to Crewe and Bournemouth, back-to-back, and bounced back from that very well.

“Our six-point gap has disappeared, but I’d still rather be in the position we’re in.

“Bournemouth are the form team, they’re flying at the moment, while we’ve stuttered and so have Tranmere.

“But that’s the word I’d use for us, stuttered. We haven’t stopped.

“Confidence is gained by the inch and lost by the mile, so it’s a case of getting those inches back now and building them back up.”

As well as reinforcing a mental belief in his players, Flynn has also identified where they have become vulnerable on the pitch and addressed that.

He was keen yesterday not to publicise that weakness, though he did acknowledge that Doncaster need to not only tighten up at set-pieces but also stop needlessly giving them away.

Of the vulnerability he has discovered, Flynn said: “I saw something creeping in at Bury and I said after that game it was a one-off, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

“It resurfaced again on Saturday and we’ve dealt with it. It’s been a positive response from the players, we’ve highlighted it in many different ways both by video and out on the training ground.

“They’ve now got to get it back in their minds what’s expected of them.

“It’s not a major problem, it’s easily resolved and it will be resolved against the MK Dons.

“It’s not tactical, it’s nothing to do with mentality, it’s something that’s crept in that will disappear (tonight).”

If it does vanish into the chill South Yorkshire air tonight and Rovers condemn their “stutter” to history, then they will find themselves in sole position of top spot in League One.

Even a draw, coupled with a halting of in-form Bournemouth’s rise up the table by Crewe, would see Rovers reach the summit.

Such an achievement would render any talk of a mini-slump nonsensical.

“That would be a big boost,” said Flynn, of the possibility of going top.

“A crisis in football is bottom of the fourth division and 10 points adrift. Not this situation.

“There’s still a third of the season left, so still plenty of time.

“We want to be in the same position now with 10 games to go, that’s when we’ll accelerate.”

Midfielder Paul Keegan has a dead leg and will not be back until the weekend, when Iain Hume and David Syers are also expected to return.

Flynn said: “We have to be patient, not chase the ball in silly areas, because if we do that we can get beaten.

“The key thing will be are we patient when they have the ball?”

Last six games: Doncaster DWWWLL, MK Dons DWWLLL.

Last time: Doncaster 1 MK Dons 1; August 9, 2005; League One.

Referee: D Webb (County Durham).