PAUL GOODWIN: A pressing matter for Rovers

Theo Robinson closes down Dan Burn.
Theo Robinson closes down Dan Burn.

I watch much less Premier League football these days. The hyperbole is a real turn-off.

But after spending last Sunday on the sofa I almost hate to admit that I enjoyed what I saw. Well, for 45 minutes anyway.

Surprise package Southampton were sensational. They absolutely ran themselves into the ground during a breath-less first half display - and not in a head-less chicken way either.

There was real method to their intense pressing and incisive passing. With and without the ball, the Saints were relentless, swarming all over Chelsea, and fully deserving their goal lead.

It’s a style of play preached by Paul Dickov - and it was refreshing to see it working at one of the most difficult grounds in English football to visit. Then Chelsea scored and seized control. Southampton’s pressing dramatically dropped off.

The negatives of the pressing game were laid bare; the fact is it’s incredibly hard to keep that 100mph intensity up for ninety minutes, game in, game out.

Something has to give every now and again, just like it did for the Saints in the second half. Like it did for Doncaster at the Valley last week.

Saturday’s superb win against Queens Park Rangers showcased exactly what Doncaster are capable of at this level. When they make life difficult for the opposition - and when from one to eleven they are right at it - they can beat the very best.

But reproducing that same intensity and energy every week, especially with so many key players sidelined, is virtually impossible. It’s why Dickov keeps reminding people, at almost every opportunity, not to expect his side to play well every single game.

This season Rovers have reserved one all-action, intense display for every month of the season. In August it was against Blackburn, September Forest, October Leicester, November QPR. The last ten days have encapsulated the ups and downs of the Championship.

If Rovers press at the right time, like they did against QPR, then they can turn sporadically excellent performances into more consistent ones. But don’t expect them to press the right buttons every single game - they’re only human.