Football League Expert & Columnist
The long game
Peter Beagrie says Dean Saunders' direct approach, and David Cotterill's guile, has got Doncaster firing.
Last Updated: 10/12/12 4:07pm
Peter Beagrie is here every week on skysports.com answering YOUR Football League questions.
The former winger, who played over 770 games, representing clubs in all four tiers of the English footballing pyramid, including Manchester City, Everton, Bradford, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, and Grimsby, forms part of the Sky Sports punditry team for all the big matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So if you have a poser for Peter, whether it's about your team, a player, match or incident that has caught your eye, or a wider point on the Football League, make sure you send it in.
Read below for this week's column where Beags gives his take on resurgent Doncaster, Fleetwood's decision to sack manager Micky Mellon, and more...
Send your question to Beags
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2. Use the feedback form at the bottom of this page
DON A ROLL
Hi Beags, What do you make of Doncaster's resurgence under Dean Saunders and how do you think the team's style differs from the Sean O'Driscoll era? Cheers Alun Skinner (Wrexham fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Doncaster play a more direct style of football under Dean Saunders' tutelage; they put the ball in the box early and often and turn defence into attack quickly via long balls from the back. Rovers mix it up more now than they did under O'Driscoll, when some of the passing, although over-elaborated at times and too often without an end product, was up there with what Swansea produced; if you awarded a goal every ten passes they would have been promoted to the Premier League! It took great goal-scoring exploits from first, Paul Heffernan and James Hayter and, latterly, Billy Sharp to keep Donny in the Championship, but they finally slipped into League One at the end of the last campaign, after scoring just 43 goals. Rovers are scoring this season, though, and four League One wins on the spin, which have taken Doncaster alongside Tranmere at the top of the table, suggests Dean has got the balance right and, in Saunders' fellow Welshman, David Cotterill, the Yorkshiremen have a match-winner; the 24-year-old has been the difference in many games this season and his goals and regular assists won't be lost on Wales manager Chris Coleman, who could be thinking about ending the winger's international exile.
Hi Peter, I am not a Fleetwood fan so do not know too much about Micky Mellon but he seems to have been very harshly treated by the club. Can you understand why he was sacked? Thanks in advance, John Arkwright (Cheltenham fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I can see why Micky has been sacked, but I don't agree with it; he has suffered the same fate as a lot of other managers in that he has become a victim of his own success. Mellon, who joined Fleetwood in 2008 after a spell as youth coach at Burnley, got Fleetwood promoted into the Blue Square Premier in 2009-10 and almost to League Two a year later, before they were beaten by Wimbledon in the play-offs. However, elevation to the Football League was secured the following season and the Cod Army have operated in the top seven of League Two all the way through this campaign. However, Fleetwood, 10 points behind leaders Gillingham, have lost three games in a row and chairman, Andy Pilley, who has apparently invested around £10million into the Fylde Coast club, has decided to act; I don't think he was right to sack Mellon but he does have the right. Nevertheless, Micky's CV and penchant for playing attacking football should bring other management opportunities.
ALBION LOOKING BRIGHT
Hi Peter, Brighton have been a mixed bag this season, so how would you rate their progress. Who has impressed you in the side and where does the squad need strengthening? Thanks, Simon Sedgwick (Brighton fan)
BEAGS SAYS: A mixed bag, Simon, is what you would call Brighton's last 10 games; they started with two defeats before enjoying a seven-match unbeaten sequence, which included three wins, but then lost Saturday's clash with arch-rivals Crystal Palace. I find it impossible to be negative towards Brighton, and everyone involved with the club, as they have come such a long way in such a short space of time, going from no ground to a state-of-the-art stadium and from financial turmoil to financial stability, eighth place in the Championship and a reputation for playing total football. However, I think Brighton need a goal-scorer to take the weight off Craig Mackail-Smith; a creative wide player, as, while I like Will Buckley and the now-injured Andrea Orlandi, Craig Noone has been a massive miss; and a centre-half with pace, as Lewis Dunk, Adam El-Abd and Gordon Greer, all top professionals, do lack speed. But my star man for the Seagulls this term has been defensive-midfielder Liam Bridcutt (pictured), who has a heart as big as a bin-lid.
Hi Peter, Charlie Austin is tearing up the Championship goal-scoring chart but do you think he could make the step-up to the top flight, like Grant Holt has? Thanks, Alan Sugden (Burnley fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I picked Charlie Austin to be the top scorer in the Championship this season for a charity bet and he has not let me down, netting 18 goals so far, though he, and everyone connected with Burnley, will be disappointed that his goals have not been able to elevate the Clarets to up and around the play-off places. Charlie's movement, physicality, aerial ability and happy knack of staying cool when presented with a goal-scoring opportunity have stayed with him through his transition from non-League to League football, and like Norwich striker Holt, he has come from humble beginnings so his attitude, application and thirst for work has never diminished. Charlie has Crystal Palace forward Glenn Murray breathing down his neck in the goal-scoring charts, but my money is on Charlie - literally - to top the goals-scoring charts come May.
A JOB FOR BURLEY?
Hi Peter, The Portsmouth manager's job looks like the most difficult one in football, so which man should get it? Cheers, Hugh O'Brien (Portsmouth fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Hugh, if Red Adair was still alive and well I would put his name at the top of the list! A great club with such passionate supporters deserves better than to be subjected to more suffering year on year as a result of serious mismanagement at boardroom level and, ultimately, financial meltdown. Being manager at Fratton Park is one of the most difficult in football and a lot of bosses would just look at this as an opportunity to improve their CV and not at the long-term project, but at the same time, plenty of managers would love to manage a club with such a passionate fan base. I thought Michael Appleton did wonders to galvanise Pompey and quickly assemble a group of players with something to prove, but the club needs an experienced man now and they could do worse than employ George Burley, even though he used to manage Southampton. With the exception of Crystal Palace, he has been a success everywhere he has been, while we also must remember that even at Selhurst Park he had the foresight to bring in Dougie Freedman as his assistant - and he hasn't done too badly, has he?
LACK OF TARGETS?
Hi Peter, With so many teams trying to play slick football these days, do you think the target-man striker is dying out, and of the ones remaining in the Football League, who do you think is the best? David Miller (Coventry fan)
BEAGS SAYS: David, it is a direct result of the progressive passing game that coaches prefer nowadays that the stereotypical English centre-forward is all-but extinct; the big, bustling frontman has been replaced by the fleet-of-foot striker with clever movement and trickery, someone who will pick the lock of the door rather than batter it down. I am exaggerating to make a point, but I played in a time when strikers came in pairs and complemented each other and fed off crosses from two wide-men. Powerful centre-forwards are still around, though; Cardiff's Heidar Helguson (pictured) is brave, strong, jumps early and positions himself on smaller full-backs when crosses come in, while Palace forward Murray is courageous and knows the game inside out and is thriving on the service provided by the Eagles' full backs and, in particular, the creativity of Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha on the wings.