A relaxed Dean Saunders was in high spirits at his weekly press conference ahead of the visit of Crawley Town.
The Welshman, who has seen his side get off to a 100% start in their opening two league fixtures, did have a serious message though - urging the Rovers fans to help turn the Keepmoat Stadium in to a fortress.
“Some of the Bury players said on Tuesday that it was great to play at the Keepmoat and they feel like playing football. If we can make the Keepmoat a fortress now, teams will set up on the back foot and that’s half the battle won,” he said.
“We’ve come back from behind against Bury having done a ‘front running’ job at Walsall. I was pleased to come back, but disappointed with the goal we conceded but they’re new players so it’s to be expected and we’ve sat down and had a chat about it. We’ve got to keep going though and can’t think we’re better than we are, because we’re not. We’ve got weaknesses, the size of the squad being one.”
Saunders’ squad size has been scrutinised in minute detail lately, with skilful midfielder James Coppinger at the heart of speculation that he might be joining one of Yorkshire rivals Hull City or Barnsley.
However, Saunders revealed: “He’s staying with us. Barnsley have put a proposal to us and all parties haven’t agreed to it; he wasn’t interested from the start and I didn’t expect him to be. As we speak nothing more has happened. I don’t know if he’d fancy a two month loan deal with anybody so I can’t blame him.”
“I’m not in a strong bargaining position though, I’m trying to cut the budget, and it’s good to get fees for some of the players who’ve left because at one point we were considering having to pay players to leave. But we’ve managed to get some money in. It’s been frustrating all through the summer and now the situation with Coppinger is not ideal. We’ve had three wins on the trot and you want things to start settling down with the new side.”
The rumours regarding former Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver’s supposed arrival at the Keepmoat Stadium have also been played down by Saunders who said it’s not just the goalkeeping department that he wants to strengthen.
“I’d like to strengthen every area of the team. We’re alright at the minute because there are no suspensions and no one’s being injured, but I’m aware of what could be round the corner,” he said.
“I’ve managed to put together a team where I’m pleased how it’s shaping up. I need to add a few more to that group who can score and so we’re not relying on one player.”
Saturday’s fixture against Crawley is the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides and promises to be a stern test for Rovers as the Sussex side – who’ve bagged successive promotions – are tipped to be the League’s surprise package.
“I watched them batter Brighton in pre-season and I thought these are a good team and they’ve got a good chance of carrying on because they’ve got a winning formula. They’ve got a harmony and a place in the team and that’s what they’ve done,” said Saunders.
“I wasn’t expecting us to play well so soon; we played miles better than I thought we would and we’ve got lots of players in form, the main thing is we’ve won games. We’ve hit the ground running and we’re not scrambling around for points.”