On a warm May weekend up in Manchester 18,000 fans in blue watched as their captain hoisted aloft the League One play off winners trophy. It was a fantastic display with a beautifully weighted free kick crossed into the box right onto the head of Tommy Rowe to make it 1-0 followed minutes later by a perfect free kick into the top corner of the Huddersfield goal for 3-0, Craig Mackail-Smith’s 99th Posh goal coming in between.
Seven years later all eyes will be on the technical area for Saturdays clash against Doncaster Rovers at the ABAX with club legend Grant McCann returning for the first time since his harsh sacking back in February. He will be coming up against an impressive Posh side who have for the first time won their five opening fixtures including an emphatic 5-1 victory at Plymouth last time out.
McCann has over 180 caps for Posh, winning the League One play off final in 2011 and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley in 2014. He then returned to the ABAX managing Posh for 105 matches. His sacking divided many Posh fans with some believing this legend of London Road was treated harshly whereas others point at Posh’s failures to see games out and seeing the play offs slip further away. It is expected that McCann will receive a warm reception from the fans on Saturday as he hopes to bring the League One leaders 100% record to an end.
We spoke to a Doncaster Rovers fanpage ahead of Saturdays fixture for their take on the match and the fascinating sub-plot off the field of play.
McCanns appointment at the Keepmoat came as a surprise to some with the Yorkshire club once again employing a former Posh boss, Darren Ferguson being at the helm beforehand, bringing Rovers up from League Two and keeping them in this division since.
“Before we appointed anyone, I think most of our fans would have preferred Stuart McCall but everyone is willing to give Grant a chance to show what he can do!”
“I was personally disappointed in Fergie’s departure as I believed in his ideas and how he was trying to rebuild the club. I think the fan base was split 50:50 but it came as a surprise to everyone. I personally wish him well in the future.”
“In terms of differences in play style, there are similarities such as the high press and the offensive approach. There are also differences; McCann demands a lot more from our fullbacks in terms of their responsibility in the team and from what I’ve see we also seem a lot more purposeful going forward. We’ve also been a lot more cynical and are currently top for booking points- nothing wrong with a mean streak, we’ll need it against you!”
Doncaster currently sit seventh in the table with eight points from five matches. However they are winless in three league matches after goalless draws with Portsmouth and Shrewsbury and a defeat to Burton Albion. Many clubs in the top half of the table have promotion on their mind, including Saturdays opponents.
“The manager and board seem to be setting their sights on the top 6. I think the fans would be delighted with that but based on our signings, I think a top 10 finish would satisfy the fan base!”
We then looked ahead to Saturdays clash, with Doncaster now having former Posh captain Tommy Rowe and Jermaine Anderson on the books.
“ John Marquis is our main man and a lot of our threat is dependent on his link up play; he harries defences and can score all kinds of goals. Our wingers can be dangerous on their day too: the evergreen James Coppinger and one of your old boys Tommy Rowe is now our captain. Lastly, we’ve got a cocky young forward on loan from Leeds named Mallik Wilks; he loves showboating but hopefully he also delivers some end product on Saturday!”
“In terms of Posh threats, I think our defence would do a good job keeping Godden and Cummings quiet, those two seem to be on fire at the minute! I also wonder how we are going to keep control of Siriki Dembele when our fullbacks push so high!”
“I think both teams will score but I really think you guys will take some stopping. I’ve got a bad feeling about 3-1 but I’ll back the boys and go 2-2. I’d take a point now but with it being McCann’s 1st game back at London Road you just never know. Stranger things!”
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