Analysis: Our Doncaster Rovers writers and pundits discuss the season so far

Jordan Houghton and Liam Mandeville
Jordan Houghton and Liam Mandeville

Last week we opened up our Doncaster Rovers Christmas Selection Box.

Myself, Liam Hoden, Peter Catt and John Buckley gathered at our Printing Office Street HQ to mull over the season so far, the key men and also make one or two predictions looking forward.

John Marquis

John Marquis

Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:

Best summer signing

JB: Mathieu Baudry. I really like him and I think he makes a massive difference to the team.

At times he takes chances, but he looks like a proper player.

James Coppinger made his 500th Rovers appearance at Morecambe.

James Coppinger made his 500th Rovers appearance at Morecambe.

PC: Everybody expected it to be Tommy Rowe but I think he’s just starting to come into his own now.

I think you’ve got to give honourable mentions to Baudry who’ll get better and better, Matty Blair and John Marquis. Marquis sets the standard in terms of work rate and that’s been a massive thing so far.

In terms of the future, the best signing could turn out to be Alfie Beestin.

PG: It’s John Marquis for me, for the influence he’s had on and off the pitch. Rovers were too nice to play against last season but Marquis gives you something completely different. Centre backs won’t enjoy playing against him.

LH: Another one worth a mention is Jordan Houghton, albeit a loan signing, especially after losing Luke McCullough to injury at the last minute in that position.

Best opposition

PC: I liked Carlisle. They showed a lot of resilience at the Keepmoat. They had something about them and I think they’ll last the course.

PG: Carlisle for me too, for the same reasons.

LH: Luton did well against Rovers after the first half an hour. Rovers weren’t in the game at all for the last hour, so I’d probably say them.

JB: The best team we’ve played against is Carlisle. I remember them putting a big lad on up front and he caused us all sorts of problems. The other team that caused us problems at home was Barnet, and the boy with the ridiculous throw-in.

Most valuable player

PG: Jordan Houghton, for how he’s filled a key position in the way Darren Ferguson wants his team to play. He’s gone about the job brilliantly for a young lad and I think if you take him out of the team, because of the job he does in there, he’d be the one you would miss the most.

PC: I take your point about Houghton and I do agree. He’s very unobtrusive in that role and doesn’t get noticed a lot but he really does a good job, he’s a quality player with two good feet.

JB: I think it’s James Coppinger by a country mile. We play well when he plays well. I just think in that top area of the pitch he controls everything that happens.

Most disappointing player

LH: The one that sticks out is Riccardo Calder. He did well at the end of last season but I don’t think he’s hit those heights. Tyler Garratt arrived with a bit of fanfare from Darren Ferguson but he’s not had the best of times. The same could be said of Ross Etheridge. Other than that it’s pretty positive.

PC: I’d go along with those three. Garratt’s only a young lad but I think we were expecting more from him. Unfortunately for Etheridge, as a goalkeeper, you’re judged on mistakes and he’s made a few. Maybe Cedric Evina hasn’t played as well as he can too.

Unsung hero

JB: I’d go with Marko Marosi. I wasn’t convinced about him before this season but he’s saved us in a few games. He’s a good shot-stopper and he’s really grown in stature.

PC: The one I’d add to that is Niall Mason. He doesn’t get talked about much but he’s had to play in a variety of positions and he’s done a good job for the team.

Best performance

PG: Morecambe away. Rovers took the proverbial that day. They passed it around so confidently, Morecambe were chasing shadows, and combined that with ruthless finishing. It’s the type of performance I’ve been hoping to see a bit more against some of the stronger teams in the division.

PC: I wasn’t at Morecambe but I wouldn’t look past the Leyton Orient game. For me that was almost a complete performance. I think it’s probably as good as we’ve played in terms of controlling the game for quite some time, not just this season.

LH: Orient weren’t a great side but Rovers had to come from a goal behind and they were never fazed by that. I’d mention the win at Portsmouth as well. The second half was backs to the wall stuff and it was a good result in the end.

Rovers’ final position

LH: Top! I think they’re by far better than the majority of sides in this division.

JB: I agree with that, and I’ve thought that from day one. I think they’ve got a better standard of player and it shows in games.

PC: I said at the start of the season top six, now I would definitely say top three.

PG: I agree with Peter. I thought play-offs at the start of the season, but now I’m more confident about a top three finish.

n Watch the full discussion at www.facebook.com/FreePressDRFC