Paul Goodwin’s Rovers Verdict: Dean Saunders IS making his mark at Doncaster Rovers - and deserves fair crack of the whip

Rotherham Uniterd v Doncaster 'Rovers Boss dean Saunders
Rotherham Uniterd v Doncaster 'Rovers Boss dean Saunders

Last season Dean Saunders had friends in high places - now he has got them in the right places.

Free from the stress of a relegation battle - and the shackles of the infamous Willie McKay experiment - Saunders is now very much his own man.

This last week has seen the ups and downs that seem to be common place at Doncaster Rovers.

Make no mistake about it, there is still lots of work to be done - particularly when it comes to finding a way of playing at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But scratching beneath the surface, Saunders IS making his mark on the club.

A jovial, relaxed character, the Welshman is someone the players enjoy playing for.

The next time you get the chance, analyse his body language on television.

Less defensive and fidgety, Saunders now comes across as a man at complete ease in the job.

He might still be living in a hotel but he now feels at home at Doncaster.

That’s not surprising with a squad packed full of experience and personality - a collection of individuals that mirror his work ethic and who he has trust in.

The excellent Rob Jones, for instance, Saunders has described as his ‘manager on the pitch’.

The days of a dressing room divide are long gone; Doncaster Rovers are singing from the same hymn sheet again.

Even Saunders’ biggest doubters must have been warming their vocal chords at the way his team completely bossed Leyton Orient on Saturday.

It was the type of ruthless, no-thrills performance that personified their manager’s outlook on the game.

Succeeding one of the most successful managers in the club’s history was always going to be a difficult, almost thankless, task.

But Saunders is starting to emerge from the shadows of Sean O’Driscoll - and he is stamping his substance over style philosophy on the club.

Defenders are going in where it hurts and choosing Row Z at the right time.

Luxury players like Kyle Bennett and David Cotterill are tracking back, putting the team first.

And the likes of Chris Brown and Martin Woods look fitter than they have ever done at Doncaster thanks to the manager’s methods.

Things are far from perfect at the Rovers at present; the budget is tight, home form is a concern.

But don’t judge Saunders on one good or bad performance.

Look at the bigger picture - and the huge rebuilding job he has had thrust upon him.