Doncaster v Pompey: The Insider
Following a bit of a slow start, it is going pretty well for a club whose aspirations have always been automatic promotion.
Injuries and two defeats and a draw in the opening three fixtures meant it took a while to get going, but once Doncaster started moving they have never looked back.
Darren Ferguson’s side have played really good football for the majority of the time, while have also found ways to win.
It was a battle against Notts County and Stevenage in recent weeks, but both were eventually defeated as that bit of quality told.
The top teams aside, Doncaster have so far shown themselves to be better than the vast majority of sides in League Two.
Rovers were last season relegated from League One on the back of a 17-game winless run, but I don’t believe there were any thoughts of sacking Ferguson.
Even the supporters remained with him, there were certainly no ‘Fergie out’ chants during that period.
The board believed in a long-term project and that remained in their mind during what transpired.
At the end of that season they won two and drew two of their final five matches to demonstrate improvement, but it was just too late.
They are now a very good team and if they can secure promotion I would fancy this side to do well back in League One. A major overhaul would not be needed.
Ferguson has operated with a diamond, but recently teams figured them out a little.
Over Christmas, Notts County matched them up, as did Mansfield, and it restricted them a little and required freshening up.
The outcome was the 3-5-2, a system he played a lot last season but I don’t believe he particularly had the players to pull it off. He also admitted he stuck with it too long during that spell.
However, the return of Conor Grant on loan from Everton has enabled the Doncaster boss to return to that formation and he can now alternate.
Grant did really well on loan last season, but struggled during a temporary spell at Ipswich, which was terminated early.
Rovers were hoping he might drop back down to League Two and it’s a boost having back a very good midfielder.
Another loanee, Jordan Houghton, has shone since he arrived from Chelsea, with it now extended until the end of the season.
He offers a bit of everything and is well regarded by Chelsea, who have offered a new deal.