The Opposition View: Doncaster Rovers
Adam Stubbings offers his views ahead of Saturday's match.
Sean O'Driscoll has emerged one as the favourites for the Pompey job. How do Donny fans regard him and the job he did at your club? Sean is a legend of the highest order here at Donny. The fans love him for his achievements and the footballing philosophy that he brought to this club. He's down in the annals and none of us are going to forget the Play-Off Final and Johnstone's Paint Trophy wins we earned under his stewardship.
I think everyone wishes him the best for the future, for him to get a new job as soon as he can and I can guarantee that if he takes over at Portsmouth we will be watching out for your results a lot more often. One thing to note if he does take over though - don't expect overnight success.
It took him a good while to get the right team and style that he wanted and we endured some frustrating months early in his spell here. But be patient and it will come, I can guarantee that. He won the Football League Trophy at the end of his first season here and the following season had us challenging for promotion and eventually triumphing at Wembley against Leeds in the play-offs. Another thing to note is he achieved all of this success on a relatively small budget and I don't think that can be overlooked. He made very few rubbish signings and we made a huge profit off of the likes of Matt Mills and Richie Wellens, layers he brought to the club astutely and relatively cheaply.
I don't know what the financial situation at Portsmouth is like at this stage, even when reports of financial hardship were rife in the press players the calibre of Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson were still being brought in, so I'm unsure there. He would certainly help us Rovers fans to look more favourably on your club than when Steve Cotterill was in charge at any rate! Is Dean Saunders the man to get your team out of trouble? That's a tough one. He doesn't have the managerial record to suggest so, no. The performances so far under him, albeit few, have been quite mixed with some decent attacking play alongside some fairly atrocious defending.
Whether that's all down to him or not I don't know because it isn't like we were playing well before he arrived, but the jury is still out on 'Deano' for me at least. He's already brought in several players that are a completely different kettle of fish to our usual players - Chris Kirkland, Herita Ilunga, Pascal Chimbonda - but they all appear to be quick fixes, and not players coming in who actually want to play for Rovers but rather are looking for a springboard back to a higher level, or to gain fitness or what have you. What are the main reasons for Doncaster's poor start to the season? I think a lot of it is down to the quality just not being there in the squad. We have struggled massively with injuries for the past 18 months or so as well, so a settled side hasn't been able to gel together.
If you couple this with supposed 'big name' players like Brian Stock and James Coppinger performing well below their expected standard then you have a recipe for disaster and unfortunately we are in the position a lot of pundits expected us to be.
I firmly believe our injuries would have cost us a Championship place last season had it not been for the lack of ability at the three sides who managed to be worse than us, and if Billy Sharp picks up another injury this season we won't have a chance. We have become too over reliant on Sharp unfortunately since we made his loan move permanent last year. Billy Sharp aside, who are the other key players in your team? Right now only one man stands out for me - George Friend. After a shaky start to his Rovers career Friend has come on leaps and bounds this year. He returned from an injury around February time and hasn't looked back since, converted into a centre half role from his natural left back position and his level of consistency has been remarkable.
He won the Player of the Year award for the club last season, deservedly so and so far he appears to be just about the only candidate to win it again. Testament to this is the fact he has been given the captain's armband ahead of Brian Stock this season despite still being a fairly young player.
He's still learning but I think he could play at a higher level than this one day and will be a tough obstacle for the Pompey front line this weekend. Do you think Rovers are capable of beating Pompey at Fratton Park or would you take a draw if offered now? I think I said I'd take a draw when this question was asked last season and I'll say the same again. Personally, the 3-2 win we got at Fratton Park last season was our best win of the campaign, it certainly made the long journey worth it and we fought hard for it. Save for a very unsavoury challenge on James Hayter by Carl Dickinson it was a good, well contested game.
However, we are a totally different outfit this season, not really for the better I'd say and after seeing the game against Barnsley last weekend I'd say Portsmouth should be well on course to win this one. I'm not expecting anything so like I say will take a draw quite gladly, we were cruelly robbed of one at Blackpool this week after a good performance so it'd be nice to get something. Predict the outcome of the match. I'll not sit on the fence this time, I'm plumping for a home win - 2-1. No doubt we'll take the lead and throw it away in usual fashion.
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