Analysis: Rovers must reduce rate of ‘off-days’ to end doubts about their mentality

A  dejected  Curtis Main at the Bradford City defeat: Picture: Anrew Roe
A dejected Curtis Main at the Bradford City defeat: Picture: Anrew Roe

Last Thursday Paul Dickov talked about his team having a different mentality to the one that slipped out of the Championship in agonising fashion last year.

However, doubts will persist about the character of this side for however much longer performances like Friday night keep rearing their head.

Even the best teams have off days, but this season those really bad days have been too frequent and, until Rovers can reduce the rate of them, questions will continue to be asked about the management, depth, quality and, perhaps most significantly, the mental make-up of this squad.

In almost every month of this season, with possibly the exception of November and January, you can pick out at least one stinker.

Port Vale won far too easily in the first home game of the season. September brought forgettable 3-0 defeats at Bristol City and Walsall. In October came the almighty flop at Fleetwood, and in December it was Gillingham at home that left a really bad taste.

Rovers improved considerably over the coldest winter months. But the home defeat to Walsall and abject display at Port Vale in February suggested a poor display was still lurking around the corner.

It was hard enough to stomach when Rovers did not turn up against Peterborough in front of a packed Keepmoat, but Friday night’s second half collapse in the biggest game of the season against Bradford only cast further doubts on the ‘mentality’ that Dickov had praised less than 48 hours earlier.

His quote in the aftermath of the Bantams defeat that “some of our players think they’re perhaps better than they are” arguably cuts to the very core.

Several players have said this squad is good enough to finish in the top six but believing it, and actually doing it, are two different things entirely.

If there is any hint of arrogance, over-confidence, complacency, call it what it you like, behind the scenes then it needs to be stamped out immediately.

On their day this Doncaster team can beat anyone in League One. That’s what makes their inconsistent plight all the more frustrating.

But that second half capitulation, when Rovers had the proverbial stuffing knocked out of them by Bradford and failed to muster any sort of reaction to going behind, would suggest that the mentality of this team is a long way short of the one that fought and scrapped their way out of this league two years ago.

Everyone has bad days. That’s a fact of life. They’ve just happened much too frequently at Doncaster Rovers this season.