Big match build-up: It’s love at first sight of Theo

Theo Robinson. Picture by Howard Roe.
Theo Robinson. Picture by Howard Roe.

First impressions count - and Theo Robinson’s explosive introduction at Doncaster Rovers has instantly won him plenty of new admirers.

A bit of ‘fan love’ might be just what the well-travelled 24-year-old requires too.

Commonly misjudged or misunderstood, according to boss Paul Dickov, Robinson comes across as a confidence-driven player, a young man who might need the proverbial arm round his shoulder from time to time. The type of player who needs to be loved and appreciated to produce his best.

He’ll certainly get that affection at Doncaster.

This place has a habit of getting careers back on track - just ask Billy Sharp, David Cotterill or Rob Jones, to name but a few.

And the early signs suggest that Robinson’s new relationship with Rovers could be the start of something special too.

The Jamaican international goes in search of his third goal in three successive games for his new club at Charlton tomorrow, having made quite a first impression on teammates and supporters alike.

A near post header against Blackburn and a sensational effort on the turn at Wigan, a half chance if that, have already given wide-eyed Doncaster fans a glimpse of the predatory instincts Dickov hopes can fire his team up the table.

His lightning pace up top has added a new dimension to a team who were neat and tidy before his arrival, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

And his general enthusiasm and demeanour on the pitch, that of a man who is thrilled just to be playing again, have helped Doncaster make a more than encouraging start on their return to the Championship.

Robinson will be playing with a huge smile on his face again at the Valley this weekend.

Thanks to his goals he has settled quickly - and also formed an instant connection with workhorse targetman Chris Brown, whose telepathic flick paved the way for Robinson’s deadly strike at the DW Stadium.

But the former Watford trainee has not been all smiles since the turn of the year.

Despite a positive start to his career at Derby, his time at Pride Park fizzled out like it did very quickly at Millwall, following his move from Huddersfield Town two years ago.

With Doncaster his fifth club in six years - a period which has also included six separate loan spells - Robinson requires stability.

His temperament and attitude though, which might have been called into question elsewhere, and may be scrutinised by anyone wondering why he has had so many clubs for one so young, does not concern Dickov.

“He’s a confident boy, but he’s also a really respectful boy,” said Dickov.

“Sometimes throughout his career people have got the wrong impression of him.

“But you can get that from the outside looking in sometimes, without actually getting to know the boy and getting to know what he’s like as a person.

“We’ve said all along, the type of characters we bring into this football club is really important to us.

“Theo’s a humble lad. Yes, he’s confident. But I like that.”

Dickov’s pursuit of Robinson stems back to his time in charge of Oldham.

His willingness to run the channels and pop up in the box with goals - characteristics not dissimilar to Dickov the player - made a big impression on Doncaster’s boss.

His goalscoring record at Derby, where he scored almost one in three in the Championship, also speaks for itself.

“Theo’s a player I’ve watched for the last three years.

“He’s someone I’ve tried to get a few times.

“He’s a goalscorer. He’s got that fantastic knack of getting in the box and finishing things off.

“If you look throughout Theo’s career at the goals he has scored, not a lot of them are from outside the penalty spot.

“Most of them are scored from within 12 yards. That’s a nice knack to have.

“We had him watched pre-season and he scored six goals, albeit not with Derby’s first team,” he added, reflecting on Robinson’s eye-catching start.

“So we knew he was ready to come straight in and make an impact.”

Robinson’s arrival, and playing style, has also had a notable effect on Brown.

It was no coincidence Brown found himself in the right place at the right time to head home his first goal of the season against Wigan on Tuesday night.

Robinson’s running, presence and movement have helped ease the pressure on the former Sunderland man to hold up play and drop deep for the ball, as well as being the one to try and get on the end of things.

Brown will work hard all day long for the cause. But that work may now reap more rewards with Robinson in toe.

“Big Chris Brown has been magnificent for us so far,” said Dickov, when quizzed about the shift to 4-4-2.

“But against Blackpool and Rochdale we just felt we weren’t getting people running beyond him and in and around him to help him out.

“We wanted that to change.

“Hubby [James Husband] and Theo have had all the plaudits over the last week or so but Browny has been fantastic.”