The Opposition View: Doncaster Rovers

Last updated : 24 August 2018 By Jim Bonner

What do you make of Doncaster's start to the season and what are the expectations?

I'm happy with how we've kicked off the season, we've played well more often than not and got some good results. It's still very early days yet but we look capable of competing in the top 8-10 of the league and that is our aim for the year. Most feel that we underperformed on the level we were capable of last season and with a young squad growing all the time we should be able to push on and improve in the next few months even if we don't sustain a Play Off push.

Are you happy with the current squad and the new manager?

I am, Grant McCann has made an encouraging start and it is easy to see the type of football he wants us to play. He wants more width, wants us to be quicker in our play and improve our movement both on and off the ball and I have to say that has so far borne out in the games I've seen us play. The side seems to be playing with a bit more freedom than under Darren Ferguson and everyone has a clearly defined role that they are sticking to.

Who are the key players in the current Rovers squad now you've had a bit of time to judge them?

John Marquis, who I'm sure you know very well, is the talisman of this team. He is our principle goal threat and does such a good job of linking play with those around him. He's a real handful for opposition defenders too. New signing Mallik Wilks has that 'X factor' that some players have and he is very unpredictable, direct and skilful. Our new system relies on the full backs for width too so both Niall Mason and Danny Andrew are having to step up and contribute in more ways in attacking areas this season.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your team?

It's a bit early to judge absolutely what are our best and worst qualities, but I think one of the key things we are good at is retaining the ball. Portsmouth will offer a sterner test than most of our opponents to date in that regard, but we have seen certainly in our home games so far that we like to pass the ball around and have become much better at winning possession back in midfield. I expect we'll need to be on point with this when your side faces us on Saturday.

On the other side of the coin, we do look vulnerable to counter-attacking as our new system takes shape. Playing with only three men in midfield means that we are having to do a lot of legwork to make sure the right areas of the field are populated particularly out of possession, and teams with better strikers than Wycombe and Shrewsbury might've been able to punish us on the break in our two home games so far. It's an entirely new way of playing under McCann so it will take some time to bed in and be refined.

Pompey have a 100% record going into this game so would you take a draw now if offered?

No, I will never ever start a game happy to get a draw when we're at home, not unless Manchester City or Chelsea are the visitors anyway. Portsmouth have won every game but that won't continue for 46 matches and we have a good record against you over the past few years. Don't get me wrong, I'm expecting our toughest test of the campaign but I want us to go out there and win it and I know that's what we will try to do.

Predict the outcome of the game.

Having said all that, I'll predict a draw. 1-1.