Dyche and Clarets setting the blueprint for Dickov

Doncaster Rovers’ last four performances have offered manager Paul Dickov a snapshot into what he believes has made Burnley so successful this season – consistency of selection.
Rovers' Mark DuffyRovers' Mark Duffy
Rovers' Mark Duffy

Rovers have won three and drawn one in that sequence, a timely run that has seen them climb out of the relegation zone and towards safety.

Yet it is nothing compared with the season-long form that Burnley have shown.

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Tipped by many to struggle this season, the men from East Lancashire have defied the odds to launch a sustained challenge which is only a handful of wins away from becoming a successful promotion campaign.

Wise use of a healthy budget by manager Sean Dyche has helped the Clarets climb into second spot with a considerable cushion of 10 points between themselves and the chasing pack.

But as much as player recruitment, Dickov believes Burnley have defied bigger budgets at clubs like QPR, Wigan and Nottingham Forest because they have been able to field more or less the same starting XI throughout the season.

“It’s good management and good players but Sean will be the first to admit that having a settled team has been key,” said Dickov, whose side’s win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday moved them eight points clear of the relegation zone.

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“Eight or nine of their players have played the majority of the season.

“As we’re seeing here in a short space of time, if you keep a settled team you get results and if you can do that over a full season you’re going to give yourself a chance.”

It is that winning formula that Dyche has appeared to have struck on which is giving Dickov plenty to think about ahead of another crucial week in the fight for survival.

After tonight’s trip to Turf Moor, Doncaster visit Leeds United on Saturday and the manager has a host of players knocking on his door for a starting shirt.

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“For three games running, I’ve been able to pick the same team and that consistency in selection has been a major factor in our performance,” he said.

“But having said that, we’ve got two big games this week and we’ve got players like Theo Robinson, Dean Furman and Marc De Val all chomping at the bit.

“Do you rest players? Do you chop and change it? If you’ve got a winning formula, you want to try and keep that as much as you can.”

Dickov’s own recipe for success has been stumbled upon in some cases, with a variety of square pegs in round holes, like midfielder Paul Quinn playing at centre-back and long-standing winger James Coppinger filling in at right-back.

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Despite the unfamiliarity, the application of the Rovers’ players has come to the fore, and for one man in particular, it is the start of a blossoming partnership.

Mark Duffy came to Doncaster in the summer expecting to fight Coppinger for a starting spot on the wing. Now he is playing in front of him and relishing the partnership.

“The consistency of selection is helping because you get to know each other’s jobs and what they’re good at, what they’re going to do when they’ve got the ball,” said Duffy.

“All over the pitch, relationships develop between players and you build a rapport like I am doing with Copps at full-back.

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“You know he’s going to provide a lot of quality and add to the threat.

“He can overlap me and I’ve then got to help out in defence, and together you become a little team.”

Whether they can interchange so freely at Burnley tonight, when they are likely to spend more time on the back foot against a team unbeaten at home, is another matter. Rovers have been unable to translate their knack of winning at the Keepmoat into their travels. They have won only once on the road all season, and that was back in September.

“Our performances haven’t been that bad, it’s just major factors haven’t gone for us,” said Dickov, who admits the quality of opposition is as much the cause of their problems as anything else. “It’s something we need to address and what better place to do that than at Burnley? It’s a great game for us especially off the back of the great win on Saturday.

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“We’ve done well against the top teams this season and we can go there and play with a bit of freedom because no-one expects anything of us and I want my players to go to one of the top teams and show what a good team we are.

“Because I don’t feel we’re getting the credit we deserve.

“They’ve not lost at home this season, we’ve only won once away – but in this league you never know.”

Last six games: Burnley WWWDWW; Doncaster LLWWDW.

Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).

Last time: Burnley 3 Doncaster 0; December 26, 2011; Championship.