Paul Goodwin’s Rovers Verdict: Togetherness has been key to solid start

Rovers' players celebrate Billy Paynter's early penalty. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' players celebrate Billy Paynter's early penalty. Picture: Andrew Roe

IF there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me in this job, it’s your average football fan’s appetite for a new signing.

Hardly a day goes by in the world of Twitter without someone asking me whether Dean Saunders is about to add to his squad.

Those messages have dried up in recent days; a transfer window lull perhaps, or maybe the realisation of Rovers’ financial situation has finally sunk in.

A very tight ship is being run at the Rovers these days - so much so that the half time nibbles in the press room were scrapped last month.

More importantly, the indication is that Dean Saunders must get by with what he’s got, at least until January.

Funds are seemingly very limited when it comes to adding to a squad that is probably three or four additions shy of being one of the best in League One.

But that player shortage - which has conversely helped Rovers’ tight-knit squad bond quicker than it might have done - could be argued is one of the main reasons why Rovers have got off to such a solid start after a summer of upheavel.

Signing players just for the sake of signing players, although it may appease transfer hungry supporters, is not always the answer.

After sticking with the same side religiously at the start of the league campaign, recent games have seen Saunders rotate his squad efficiently and effectively.

The result is everyone in the squad is playing their part, everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Rovers are in this together and the team has gelled remarkably quickly - that might not have been the case had Saunders gone for quantity over quality in the summer.

Of course, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Saturday’s win over Shrewbury, a vibrant performance which visibly tailed off as the game wore on, portrayed perfectly Doncaster’s work in progress.

Before the break Rovers showed their potential. After the break they showed their vulnerability.

At this level, Rovers have the sort of quality in their ranks that can destroy any team on any given day, as Walsall will testify.

Their experience and streetwiseness was what won the day against Bury, Colchester, Leyton Orient and Shrewsbury - sides, it must be pointed out, not expected to pull up any trees in the third tier.

Notably though, Rovers have struggled against clubs more likely to be challenging for promotion come the end of the season.

Crawley, Stevenage, Sheffield United and Preston are all no-nonsense, physical teams who made it difficult for Doncaster to play.

Consistency may have been lacking but a 17-point haul from ten games represents a very solid start. A good start was crucial and Rovers have laid the foundations for a decent season.

Were Rovers to finish in the tenth spot they currently occupy, it would perhaps be a fair reflection of the position the club are in both on and off the field.

On it, Rovers have more than enough to stabilise in this league - but lack the squad depth to really mount a serious push for promotion.

Off the pitch, Rovers are continuing to stabilise following relegation - and arguably lack the resources to turn a good League One squad into a promotion winning one.

Food for thought - if only the nibbles still existed!