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League One

Andy Ritchie's Blog 32

27 March 2013

This snow and freezing cold weather is bad news for clubs at the bottom of the table having to operate with threadbare squads. It might be nice for the kids to mess around in the snow but in football - particularly at the business end of the season - it could be a serious headache.

If things don't turn around quickly I can see some clubs having to squeeze their last three or four matches into just over a week. When you rely on the same 11 or 12 senior pro's week in week out that can present a real issue, and a test to certain teams with smaller resources.

I remember having a fixture backlog at the end of a season in the early 90s with Oldham Athletic, and I felt it cost us promotion that year. We just didn't have the numbers to rest and rotate, and subsequently our performances suffered. One or two, at both ends of the table will feel the same way by the time May comes round I suspect.

I can't recall Easter ever being this cold before. It's amazing. Usually at this time of the year, the sun is shining and the pitches are beginning to get dry and bumpy. Somehow I don't think the ground staff will have that worry in 2013.

Doncaster Rovers don't seem the slightest bit perturbed by anything right now. In fact, their five-point cushion at the top of npower League 1 is a seriously healthy buffer for them at this stage.

Two wins over Easter and they might be home and dry in terms of claiming automatic promotion. That said, a trip to Coventry City and a humdinger at home to Swindon Town won't be formalities.

I'm so pleased to see Brian Flynn doing such a wonderful job at the Keepmoat Stadium. I've known Flynny for years and we get on like a house on fire.

Our friendship began when he was Wrexham boss and I was in charge of Oldham, and we always took our respective teams to the pre-season tournament on the Isle of Man. On those trips we'd share a round of golf, and it's something that's been a shared interest of ours ever since. On the Celebrity Pro-Am golf circuit I am always bumping into Flynny - and he remains one of the biggest bandits ever been let loose on a course!

In terms of his football management, Brian's success with Doncaster Rovers has proven that there is life in some of management's elder dogs. Too often men of a certain age are written off as dinosaurs but Brian Flynn's shown everyone that an experienced boss still has an awful lot to offer.

I believe that working with the Wales national team, and with the Under-21s helped his management intensely. Having worked at close quarters with young players he knows what the modern kids need to make them tick.

When you combine some of his old school ways (which are still very effective) with the modern things he's picked up on the international scene, you have a very rounded manager in the shape of Brian Flynn. He brings the best of both worlds - and eras - to the table.

Considering they lost Dean Saunders earlier this season to Wolverhampton Wanderers, considering the terrible time they had last season and considering they haven't spent silly money this season, Doncaster Rovers have done marvellously to lead the table.

Away from the pitch it's not been a good week for Coventry City, who remain in a perilous financial situation. If reports are to be believed, they have an American knight in shining armour called Preston Haskell IV who is willing to buy them, but until that happens their future is very much in the air.

So too is that of Crawley Town, albeit in a much calmer, orderly fashion. Their owners have decided to put the club up for sale, admitting that they have taken the Sussex club as far as they can with the funds available.

If Crawley can somehow squeeze into the Play-Offs, that might affect their valuation but it's a remote possibility now. Even so, if the right people come along soon with the financial muscle to take Crawley Town to the next level that would be fantastic news. They have shown their mettle in recent seasons and still have much more to come.

I'm sure this isn't the end of Crawley Town's upward curve in the league.

Last but not least, Matt Ritchie was this week named League 1 Player of the Year at the 2013 Football League Awards.

He's a top player is Matt. And let's face it, with a name like Ritchie he was always going to be good!

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