Scunthorpe United's derby with Doncaster Rovers is no ordinary game, says boss Brian Laws
IT WAS a damning assessment of his team. Fragile, short of characters and devoid of passion – Brian Laws held nothing back.
Unfortunately, on that occasion, neither had Doncaster Rovers.
Scunthorpe United were soundly beaten 4-0 as they capitulated at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Fast forward four months and whilst little has changed in terms of the Iron’s position, the manager says the attitude of his players is completely different.
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There is, he insists, no chance that November nightmare against their local rivals will be repeated at Glanford Park.
“I think we owe the fans one and we owe ourselves one,” said Laws.
“We were bitterly disappointed with the performance against them last time round, but I think you’ll see a different mentality and a different performance from that.
“I know the players are relishing the challenge.
“They know that whilst it is a local derby, there’s a little bit more at stake than just a local derby – there are points at stake, and we need them, badly.”
As well as a chance to make up for that thumping, Saturday’s derby also sees United looking to bounce back from last week’s 1-0 reverse at Notts County.
Having been pushed back in the relegation zone after Oldham Athletic’s midweek victory, the need to end a three-match losing run has become even more urgent.
Laws though, has been impressed with the reaction he has seen from his squad in training.
“We’ve stressed on many occasions that you’ve got to move on very quickly with games coming thick and fast, and particularly with a local derby,” he said.
“We’ve got a huge game coming up against Doncaster and the players are focused on that.
“We’ve all got to lick our wounds when you don’t get the points, but I think the most important thing is how you respond, and the players have responded really well in training.
“I think the change in attitude with the players, and particularly the mental side of it, is that they’re showing a really strong resilience.
“I’m concerned because we haven’t won the game, and that’s been very disappointing, but I’m not concerned with their mental state.
“I think they’re ready for another big challenge and it certainly doesn’t come any bigger than Saturday.”
Boosting their points tally is the bigger picture, but when it comes to a clash with their South Yorkshire neighbours there is no attempt to downplay just how significant this match is by the United manager.
“We do stress how important these games are,” Laws added.
“You can’t treat it as a normal game. It’s not a normal league game by any stretch of the imagination.
“In our last game against them I thought we were matching them for every stride they gave, particularly in the first half.
“And yet we gave them a goal start with an own goal.
“I thought we had a collapse in the second half, which I don’t expect and I won’t see on Saturday.
“There’s a resilience about us now that we don’t collapse. We’ll take the game to Doncaster.”