A BRAVE new world is underway at Doncaster Rovers, who have finally named Darren Ferguson as their permanent successor to Paul Dickov, five-and-a-half weeks after the Scot was axed on September 8.
His first game in charge is the not inconsequential matter of a Yorkshire derby against Bradford City on Saturday.
Rovers’ current position of 21st place in League One is a worrying one after a low-key start to the campaign which has seen the side claim just two wins from 11 matches thus far.
Hopes were high at the start of the season that with a slightly increased budget that Rovers, who finished 13th place last term, could be competing at the right end of the table, but that vision has failed to transpire.
Here’s five things that the new Rovers manager has to address in the coming weeks and months ahead.
1: Get the team’s mojo back and get Rovers standing for a footballing philosophy in the greater scheme of things.
The impact of Sean O’Driscoll at Rovers goes without saying. While the final stages of his time at the club went flat, for large parts, he developed Rovers into the self-styled ‘Arsenal of the North.’ in the gushing words of John Ryan. Rovers may not have won every week, but they stood for something and played some champagne football along the way.
Dean Saunders’ philosophy may not have been the total football espoused by O’Driscoll. But Donny supporters gradually built into it and warmed to redoubtable Rovers during that 2012-13 when the club secured club sheets for fun and were a nightmare to play against for opposing teams and manned up across the pitch.
Rovers have sort of fallen between two stools for the past few years and the new manager needs the side to establish an identity that supporters can converge around and identify.
2: Away form. Or lack of it.
Much was made about Rovers wretched home form last season, when they won just twice in League One in the first half of 2014-15 - with form at the Keepmoat Stadium being an Achilles heel for several seasons before that, truth be told.
To a degree, things have improved, with Rovers without a home reverse in the league since April 3, with Saturday’s visitors Bradford City ironically being the last side to take three points from the Keepmoat last Easter.
Away from home, it’s a different story. Rovers have scored just once in five league games on the road this term and have not won on their travels in seven games since triumphing in April 14. It’s a pretty wretched sequence, all things considered and a real concern.
3: Keeping hold of Keshi Anderson.
The shining light over the past month, if there has been one, is the form of Anderson, with the loanee displaying some real potential, showcased in goals against Barnsley and Swindon Town.
He may still be raw, but the young Crystal Palace frontman has something about him. His hunger and persistence is impressive and he has also shown an eye for goal. There’s clearly something to work on there and cultivate. Anderson has made it clear that he wants to stay around at Rovers beyond the end of his first month’s loan, which is due to expire after the Shrewsbury game on October 20. Renewing his loan seems like a no-brainer.
4: Getting the best out of Andy Williams.
The Swindon striker arrived with a goal-laden reputation in the summer with Rovers beating off competition from a number of rivals to secure his signature.
Williams netted 22 league goals last term and only Preston’s Joe Garner and Rochdale forward Ian Henderson struck more League One goals than the Hereford-born player in 2014-15.
The 28-year-old has netted three times this term, but that haul has included two penalties and he has not struck from open play in the league so far since joining Rovers.
At times this season, Williams has looked like the goalscoring weight has been a heavy backpack on his shoulders. A few savvy words from the management - and a different voice - might just go a long way.
5: The case for the defence - and stop the trait of poor concessions.
Rovers defensive chargesheet this season is a growing one, with the side guilty of some poor concessions in recent weeks, much to the exasperation of interim-boss Rob Jones, who has lamented a host of mistakes. Think Swindon at home, Sheffield United away and York City away. And there are several other examples to boot.
The first priority of many managers arriving at a club is building a solid base - all successful sides are forged around clean sheets, whether it be ones who need to pull away from the relegation zone or push higher up the table. It is what Rovers successfully had at this level under Dean Saunders during their title campaign of 2012-13.