Analysis: Rob Jones must put his own stamp on Rovers

Rob Jones
Rob Jones

For Rob Jones to make it onto Doncaster Rovers’ managerial shortlist - or to land the job full time - he has to find a way of putting his own mark on this team.

It is more likely to be evolution than revolution.

But, for the sake of Jones’ job prospects, he needs to get something out of his players against Oldham tomorrow which goes against the norm of this season so far - preferably goals, and three points.

After just two days on the training ground to work with his players prior to last weekend’s trip to Walsall, it was understandable that changes were kept to a minimum at the Banks’s Stadium.

Cedric Evina, given his recent form, could count himself unlucky to make way for Cameron Stewart, although perhaps that was an early indicator that the no-nonense Jones prefers round holes in round pegs.

Rovers’ caretaker boss has been guarded about his footballing philosophy, unwilling to give anything away to the opposition. But it does not take a genius to work out that he will demand his team is compact, well-organised and hard to break down.

There were signs, the way the game played out at Walsall, that Rovers under Jones had stepped back in time to 2013 - content to soak up pressure, hit teams on the break perhaps. That sort of game-plan is fine away from home.

However, tomorrow’s clash at the Keepmoat, against another side low on confidence, presents a totally different challenge.

The talk this week among the local press pack, a week that has seen Jones afforded the rare luxury of a full five-day build-up, has been whether he would consider doing something radical in an attempt to change Doncaster’s fortunes. How about three at the back?

Jones could slot in alongside Gary MacKenzie and Andy Butler. James Coppinger and either Evina or Aaron Taylor-Sinclair could play as wing backs, eradicating the problematic right back position and allowing an extra body in the middle of the park to feed the front two. It sounds good on paper.

However, Jones insists Rovers ‘aren’t too far away’. A change so dramatic seems unlikely.

Wednesday’s Under-21s game perhaps offered more of an insight into the way Jones likes to set his team up. Loosely 4-4-2, one midfielder notably protected the back four and one striker dropped deep to help out the midfield. There was a clear defensive structure, but also a flexibility about the front five.

Perhaps that is the Jones way? A subtle tweak here and there.

With Doncaster in the bottom four and struggling desperately for goals, let’s face it, whether it’s personnel, shape or tactics, Jones has to change something.