Five things Doncaster Rovers need to do to improve

Rovers need to keep Paul Keegan fit next season to enhance their promotion chances.
Rovers need to keep Paul Keegan fit next season to enhance their promotion chances.
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It has been a disappointing season at Doncaster Rovers and the end-of-term report will read: ‘Must do better.’

It has been a tough two seasons if you are a Rovers fan, although there is a spot of mitigation for manager Paul Dickov to point to.

Paul Dickov

Paul Dickov

Two massively frustrating close seasons when Dickov’s transfer plans were left hamstrung by two takeover sagas and ensured he had to scramble around for signings and miss out on a host of targets are something that he can rightly point to as reasons for forgettable campaigns.

But this summer promises to be different. Without the on-off takeover sagas of the last two years, there’s more stability behind the scenes at Rovers.

All Dickov has asked for is a fair chance, with Rovers to be backed by, in his words, a competitive budget ahead of 2015-16.

And as the Scot says, there are ‘no excuses’ from when the first ball is kicked in early August.

Here’s five key areas Rovers need to remedy if they are to be among the movers and shakers in League One next term.

1: Sort out the homesickness.

A debilitating illness has long since turned into a widespread contagion at the Keepmoat, with Rovers having roughly lost an average of ten home games a season in the past four campaigns.

Rovers were beaten in ten home leagie matches in 2014-15, only four League One sides losing more. Only two sides, Crewe and Yeovil, scored fewer goals.

It must improve radically if Rovers are to push for promotion next term and while continued reference to it by the media drew regular grimaces from Dickov throughout last term, he knows it needs sorting.

2: Get another striker with goal nous.

Top-scorer for Rovers last term was Nathan Tyson, with four goals in his final two matches taking his tally to a respectable, but hardly earth-shattering, 14 goals.

But to be in the shake-up at the top, Rovers need a 20-goal man, although if you scan the club’s history over the past three decades, not too many have stepped up to the plate in that rehard.

Rovers’ three main strikers, Tyson, Curtis Main and Theo Robinson, netted 24 goals between them in 2014-15. You need much more from your frontmen if you are to make an impact at the right end of the table.

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3: Memo to board: Invest in quality in two or three areas.

Rovers have some proven operators who would get in most League One sides, James Coppinger, Harry Forrester, Andy Butler and Kyle Bennett to name four. But in key areas, certainly up front, Rovers are deficient and quality costs. A box-to-box midfield player with the ability to score goals is another area where Rovers look short.

4: Keep Paul Keegan fit.

It is perhaps no coincidence that Rovers’ play-off tilt petered off with Keegan out of the side with a knee injury. The Dubliner may not be the most creative force, but his work-rate, physicality and discipline is highly regarded by team-mates - and Dickov is also a big fan. In short, he lets others play.

All the best sides have midfield ‘water-carriers’ in the guise of former French World Cup winning captain Didier Deschamps and Keegan has proved a key man for Rovers.

5: Rovers need to ‘man up.’

In recent weeks, Paul Dickov has spoken about Rovers lacking a physical edge across the pitch and being a bit of a soft touch.

In that respect, Rovers maybe need to go back to the future in that regard and bring in some players with physical attributes.

The likes of Kyle Bennett, Coppinger, Richie Wellens and Forrester are all good ball players, but are not the biggest, it is fair to say.

When Rovers won the League One in 2012-13, they had some real men in their line-up. Rob Jones, Jamie McCombe and Chris Brown to name but three. With the future of Jones and McCombe unclear two years on, Rovers need some more ‘men’ to step up. Most likely from the outside.