Enjoying his first pre-season without takeover negotiations and uncertainty, Paul Dickov has combined the club’s long-term sustainability strategy and development of youth with recruitment of wily seasoned pros who are proven at this level.
In doing so, Rovers can realistically push for the play-offs.
The pre-season friendlies even demonstrated the team’s ability to shine at home and also threaten from midfield as well as attack.
The Keepmoat Stadium has yet to become the fortress it needs to be if we are to succeed this season (despite the last time we were promoted being through an incredible away record).
Naturally, though, solid home form is good for business; more casual fans want to see the team win games. Dickov’s determination to go on lock-down in the friendlies paid off, proving that even at this early stage, the unit looks more than capable.
I’ve never been a fan of the modern professional game, dominated by money, profit-and-loss columns, and knee-jerk reactions in boardrooms and stands. I often point to Sheffield United as an example of a club far too quick to reject a manager without considering all the factors that affect a gaffer’s players on the pitch. Like Nigel Clough when he arrived at Bramall Lane, Dickov declared his desire for a long term plan, and his overhaul of the club’s approach to youth, loan signings, and scouting represents his intentions.
Yes, managers move on as well, as we saw with Dean Saunders leaving for what seemed like bigger and better things only to become known for relegating not one but two teams, then later a third.
But Dickov deserves a chance and he himself has accepted full responsibility if we aren’t up there this season. I agree, Mr Dickov: there’s no reason why we can’t finish in the top six.