'Following the plan' - Tomasson on player demands & Rovers' style

Rovers head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson
Rovers head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson

Jon Dahl Tomasson will continue to demand from his players - and admits that some have taken to his methods quicker than others.

The head coach is focused on player development, irrespective of age and experience, as part of his long-term vision for the club.

Only Blackpool have used players with an average age younger than Rovers (24.2), but the side isn’t short of experience either with the likes of Daniel Ayala and Dom Hyam having plenty of Championship matches to their name.

Rovers have had a mixed set of results so far, with six wins and the same number of defeats from their 12 Championship games. That comes as Tomasson tries to instil his philosophy into the squad, meaning he understands that inconsistency will occur.

On his message to the players, irrespective of the results, he said: “From day one the demands have never been so high on what a player should be able to do.

“Of course some people are coping better with those demands than others when it comes to doing the right thing at the right moment.

“From that you will learn over time and you’ll see who’s learning better over time and who’s maybe not staying behind but lacking in that way.

“You have players that go quickly in that direction, but other players who are lacking.

“You should always, whether you or young or old, you should always improve the whole time because there are players that will catch you.

“Every player should have that desire and will to get better, every day, every week of the year.

“It’s a good opportunity to do that.”

Having started the season with three successive wins, Rovers haven’t yet dropped below eighth in the table.

Tomasson accepts that supporters will be looking up the table with every win, but knows defeats will be difficult to take.

Yet he says the club must stick to their plan of steady growth, and identified turning defeats into draws as a way of continuing to keep climbing the table.

He added: “Our great fans are very passionate, like you should be in football. When we win a game they are dreaming about promotion, love it, like it.

“When we lose a game, they have a nightmare, I have a nightmare as well.

“But we also need to think about slowly getting better and we have a plan, we’re following that plan and imagine turning some of those losses into draws.

“Those games that are close we need to take points and do that better, it’s something we need to learn.”

Rovers suffered their sixth defeat of the season when beaten 1-0 at Cardiff City in midweek.

They went into half time level at 0-0, despite an opening 45 minutes that was littered with mistakes, particularly in possession.

The second half was much more even, Sam Szmodics having an excellent chance with the score at 0-0, before Mark Harris came up with the winner seven minutes from time.

Even then, Rovers had the perfect opportunity to equalise in stoppage time, only for George Hirst to see his penalty saved by Ryan Allsop.

Reflecting on the midweek defeat, Tomasson said: “The first half was not good, way too many mistakes, I wasn’t happy with it, the players weren’t happy with it, the fans weren’t happy with it, which is understandable.

“Second half we were the better team and should have won that half. Playing bad in the first half and being so close to taking a point, away, with this young team, we should take it.

“It was stupid to give a goal away like we did, throw-in, plenty of bodies around it, being too passive. A great finish, but still.

“We had the bigger chance with the penalty, and I also think it should have been a goal before that, so we should have grabbed a point.

“Winning six games already, not many teams in this league have done that, and if we can twist some of those losses into draws then it would not be a good start that it is now, but it would be a perfect start.

“That’s the tricky thing.”

Rovers have moved towards a more possession-based style since the international break.

That has focused on playing out from the back, with goal kicks played short and build-up play more methodical than previously seen.

Tomasson believes that is the way to go to create value in the squad, and says that it is eliminating mistakes, rather than the style of play, which needs to be focused on.

“Sometimes you need to create a game model where over time we’ll be dominating the ball, of course there will be mistakes, but over time we’ll be creating better players,” he explained.

“We need to create a playing style and a DNA that will be sustainable at a higher level, over time.

“Most of the teams who go there do things differently.

“We need to create value and improve players. To create value it’s difficult to do that if you’re only searching for the long kick all the time, because all the bigger clubs are looking for players who can play with the ball, and without the ball.

“Mistakes will happen for sure, but hopefully less mistakes, because there were many mistakes the other day.

“Even with those, we could have had a draw.”

Rovers have played their way into trouble in the last two matches, from which the opposition have almost profited.

Yet Tomasson says there is the potential to concede from long goal kicks, as there is trying to play shorter passes.

He said: “First of all any goal is disappointing, I hate conceding, I hate bad choices on the ball, no choices towards each other, I hate that.

“But when you play football you will make mistakes. If you kick the ball long, you need to have some tall boys in the team otherwise you will lose the ball, and you could lose goals in that way.”