Rochdale – Meeting The Opposition

This weekend, Micky Mellon’s Rovers will look to add another victory to the three points that they picked up last Saturday at Prenton Park. Standing in their way? Robbie Stockdale’s Rochdale. Thus, it’s a tie between two teams of a great League Two standard with players capable of nicking a winner for either side.

I spoke to @RochdaleFan who told me all about the Spotland Park outfit’s on and off pitch positions, he also gave his thoughts on Tranmere. 

How long have you been a Rochdale supporter and how did you first come across the club?

I first started to watch Dale in the 2007/08 season, going to games with my dad and ever since I have fell in love with the club.

What are your best and worst experiences of supporting Dale?

I have had some great experiences watching Dale. Ones that in particular stand out to me are the two promotion seasons from League 2. Also, some of the cup ties we have had, have been a great experience – Man United away where we took them to penalties , beating Leeds , getting replays out of Newcastle and Tottenham.

Worst experiences of supporting Dale – One season in particular that stands out too me is when Steve Eyre was manager. It was horrid to watch. 

Random fact about the club/the area?

Rochdale played 36 consecutive seasons in the football leagues bottom division from 1974 to 2010. This is the longest any team has been in the bottom division. That’s why they call it the Rochdale division. 

We’re currently a month into the 2021-22 league campaign but what are your thoughts and expectations for the remainder of the season and how do they compare to those that you had at this stage last season?

Before the season started, I feared we would not have enough quality and squad depth, which made me think we would have enough to stay up but we will be around lower mid table. But so far I have been pleasantly surprised how our young team have adopted to life back in League 2. It’s a team that seems to be getting better every week they play together and I feel it’s a team that could surprise a few this year. This season was all about stabilising ourselves so I would settle for a mid table finish but I’m optimistic that we could clinch a play-offs place.

Who is the Rochdale manager, what are your thoughts on him and how does he normally approach games from a tactical perspective?

Robbie Stockdale. Since he came in late pre-season he has been a breath of fresh air and in a way revived a lot of Dale fans hopes. For his first proper stint in a management position, he has been great on and off the pitch. He has got us playing fast attacking possession based football and there is an emphasis on making sure we play in the right areas and not just passing sideways and backwards for the sake of things. He has also reinforced plenty of times that to be successful in this league at times we have to have an ugly side to our game, which we are starting to see signs of. Also, off the pitch he has been class. Refreshingly honest in his interviews and if he is not happy about something he will make sure the players know about it.

Who are the Dale owners, what are your thoughts on them and are there any current off field projects that are exciting you and other supporters?

It can’t be put into words how thankful our supporters are for our new chairman (Simon Gauge) and board of directors (Andrew Kelly, Richard Knight, Tony Pockney, Jamie Sarsfield, Murray Knight – Supporters Trust Representative), who all have shares in the club. They all played a pivotal role in the saving the club from the hostile takeover and it’s good to know we have a set of people running our club who are all supporters and have the best interests at heart. We never will be the richest of clubs but with our new ownership regime things are looking exciting off the pitch. It’s a young ambitious ownership regime that has often spoken about how they want to get our club back to the stable club it once was.

Who are your key players and danger men?

A player that the majority of Dale fans have fallen in love with since his arrival on loan from Mansfield is Corey O’Keeffe. How the hell Mansfield let us have him on loan I don’t have a clue as he has been absolutely superb in that RWB position. He gets forward well, can score goals, has got a dangerous cross and also he can do the defensive side of the game well too.

Another few players to watch out for are our front three of Abraham Odoh, Jake Beesley and Alex Newby. That front 3 has a bit of everything and would scare any defenders in this league on their day. Beesley holds the ball up well and never stops closing defenders down, whilst Newby and Odoh are tricky pacy inverted forwards who have so far linked up very well with Beesley.

If we are to look at this summers transfer recruitment, what are your thoughts on the business your club was able to do and would you have liked anything more to have happened?

First of all we lost quite a few key players (Stephen Humphrys, Matty Lund, Ollie Rathbone) but this was expected as we have just dropped down a division. I was quite surprised to see us keep as many key players as we did tbh. Getting the likes of Eoghan O’Connell, Aaron Morley and Jimmy Keohane all to stay was great business from the club.

Even with us keeping them players just named it still left us very short and needing signings. And in such a short space of time Robbie Stockdale had to make signings it was unbelievable the numbers of players and the calibre of the players he brought in before the season. There was a good mixture of young players as well as him bringing in much needed experience too. So overall I have been very happy with our summer transfer business and are quite happy with the squad we have built. Happy enough that I wasn’t bothered that we didn’t do any more business on the deadline day. 

What are your thoughts on Tranmere, as a club in general and who do you believe are their ones to watch?

I don’t particularly have too much thoughts on Tranmere to be honest. However, Tranmere is a club with a lot of history that has kind of lost its way in recent years (I think it’s fair to say). Spending three seasons in the National League and three in League Two since 2014. 

One player that seems to always stand out against us is Jay Spearing. In fact he is probably the type of player that I would say we are missing in our squad. Someone that sits in front of the defence, that’s a tough tackler and is able to dictate games.

Score prediction for Saturday?

Dale seem to play better away than they do at home, but we are currently finding some very good form. Tranmere won’t be easy opponents, so I’m going to go with a 1-1 draw. I think it will be a tight game and we will both cancel each other out.

Robbie Stockdale ‘has been a breath of fresh air’ since his appointment this pre-season. 

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