Monthly Archives: September 2017

Doncaster Rovers 1990-91 season review video

90’s Football is fashionable, its official.  There is a wealth of Podcasts, books and websites celebrating the glorious decade when football came home, Football meant glamour, and the Premier League showed us the game wasn’t ours but it was a product that we should pay through the nose for and then have it rammed down our throats.  90’s Football is everywhere at the minute.  Brilliant.

Only I’m a Doncaster Rovers fan and the 90’s were, well, often a bit crap.  More than that though, hardly anyone else was bothered what was happening in the Fourth Division so video clips and nostalgia are a bit thin on the ground.

Fear not, I’m going to trek through the decades to bring it all flooding back and I’ve even been wasting more time on iMovie making childish videos to truly bring those heady days back to life.  A new one every week or so, starting with 1990-91: (video at the bottom)

Doncaster Rovers 1990-91.

There was some unusual optimism around for the start of the 1990-91 season. Italia 90 had captured the imagination of the whole country and while the Rovers previous season had been well, largely crap, there were signs that this year might be different. Inconsistency had been a key failing as Rovers finished 5th from bottom in 89-90 but the run in the Leyland DAF trophy, which had taken us to within 90 minutes of Wembley, had shown there was some quality in the side. New additions Andy Holmes, Brendan Ormsby, Paul Crichton and highly rated young midfielder Eddie Gormley were brought into Billy Bremner’s squad to complement some talented youngsters like Samways, Rankine, Brevett and Noteman. There was already a promising partnership forming between strikers David ‘Bruno’ Jones and John Muir, who had combined to good effect during the latter half of the previous campaign and the feeling was, that if we were lucky with injuries, then who knows?
Things started better than anyone could’ve wished for as Rovers won their first 5 league games, with Jones and Muir scoring 8 goals between them. Inevitably though, the clubs fragile luck faltered, and in the 5th game of that run, striker David Jones suffered a serious neck injury which forced him into DRI and Rovers good form with him. The next 4 games were all lost before inconsistency reigned once more but by mid January, after an excellent 4-0 win at home to Carlisle, Rovers were third and just 1 point behind the leaders. Gormley was excellent in Midfield, Jack Ashurst had come back in and steadied the defence and Lee Turnbull and Neil Grayson had scored important goals.
Once again though, it didn’t last. Financial pressures off the field (a massive unpaid tax bill to be precise) saw the clubs prize asset Rufus Brevett sold to QPR for a club record fee of £275,000. Rankine picked up an injury and Jones never regained fitness.
After Brevett’s exit Rovers won only 4 of the last 18 games and despite staying in the play off race right into April ended up 11th. The defence coped well with Ashurst and Ormsby at its heart, but at the other end the goals had dried up at a crucial time and key injuries had taken their toll. The squad was just too light and the budget did not allow any reinforcements to push them over the line.

In the scheme of things, and compared to the dross the Rovers faithful had been subjected to in recent years, it had been a decent, if frustrating season. Rovers had been close to getting it right, but a requirement to pay the bills had seen them fall short.

John Muir top scored with 13 league goals, Kevin Noteman, who played the last dozen or so games at left back was next with 7 (illustrating where the problems had been), whilst Colin Douglas played all 46 league games, presumably some of them sober.






Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis – Midfield shadow boxers

I’m a bit of a stats buff to be honest. I happily while away a few post match hours looking at graphs on possession and shots on goal and the newly fashionable ‘expected goals’ data brings plenty more colourful charts to the party.
This seasons surprisingly decent opening few results caught me a bit off guard but when I was watching and re watching our games highlights something about the goals we were conceding seemed to nag away at me. I decided to turn to some data and make some pretty diagrams of my own to try to make sense of it and illustrate those doubts accurately.

We have predominately played a midfield diamond so far this season; now I have my reservations about this because at times last season I thought it left our usually lacklustre or part time full backs exposed when teams set up against us with numbers out wide.
Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis 3Anyway, the nagging doubt I had this season was not directly towards our full backs or indeed the back four, but the midfield, so with my ‘Moneyball’ hat on I stated plotting the goals we have conceded on a diagram. I have charted the area of the pitch which led to the assist or a major contributing factor (a turnover of possession, key pass etc) marked with an ‘X’ and also where the goal scoring shot was taken from, marked with a red spot. The thing that jumps out from this (apart from my amateur photoshop skills) is that most of the goals we have conceded (7 out of 8) have originated from the inside left and right midfield areas, or the ‘sides’ of the diamond formation, usually occupied by Matty Blair and Tommy Rowe.

Doncaster Rovers defensive analysisBlair is at his best when he is going forward operating as a wide man, head down, using his pace to get to the byline and deliver crosses or burst into the box at pace. He can’t do that with freedom in a diamond and coupled with the understandable personal problems he has been dealing with, has not been at his most effective; his defensive work is certainly not the strongest facet of his game.
Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis Tommy Rowe

Tommy Rowe is unquestionably a good player, but I do think he has a tendency to drift in and out of games. He really wants to play more advanced, at the top of the diamond in a number 10 role, but whilst James Coppinger continues to roll back the years he is forced to play deeper. Rowe is good going forward, but doesn’t give enough when defending on a consistent basis and is sometimes absent when teams are running onto us.
Doncaster Rovers defensive analysis Matty BlairThe biggest midfield issue for me though is that we are not aggressive enough, both in the tackle but also in our closing down and harrying of the opposition, both individually (including the centrally positioned Ben Whiteman) and as a unit. In spells it feels more like a training exercise in shepherding players around than a belief and desire to win the ball (big contrast between the two sides in the Blackpool game – they snapped into every challenge and always looked hungry for the ball and a result) and too often our midfield three have been shrugged off by people running at them, something Tommy Rowe has been guilty of a couple of times in the lead up to goals.

Defensively, Rowe and Blair are a little bit like square pegs in round holes but if they are to play in these areas of the pitch then they are going to have to work harder out of possession and try to add some bite to the midfield otherwise we will continue to be vulnerable through the midfield or the personnel in there will have to change –  a shame given what they offer going forward; the stats speak for themselves…