Rochdale meeting the opposition.

Rochdale FC Meeting The Opposition. 

Tranmere came crashing back down to reality with a 2-1 defeat away at Crawley Town on Saturday afternoon as The Red Devils came back from an early Harvey Saunders strike.

Saunders struck his second in four games as the Crawley keeper slipped when coming out for the ball, The Rovers’ defending was laughable as they easily let the hosts back into the game. 

Adding to the laughter, Kane Hemmings missed another penalty. It has not been a great season for him, especially when you consider the high standards Tranmere expected when they signed him from Burton Albion.

The defeat came six days after beating Swindon Town 1-0 at Prenton Park, a performance which limited the visitors to very few chances. 

Personally, despite The Dale losing 3-0 at home to Bradford City on Saturday, I worry for Dawes’ team going into this one. Rochdale will be wanting to prove themselves against a club that should be competing for promotion and they will need to give their fans something to cling on to as they are six points from safety. 

Danny Lloyd has been incredible for Jim McNulty’s side since he was recruited in early December and I expect him to score if fit. 

I spoke to Rochdale AFC Fan Page, @RochdaleFan, ahead of Tuesday night’s game. 

Rochdale finished last season 18th and are now placed right at the bottom in 24th as we enter the business end of the campaign. What are your thoughts on how the past year has gone? 

It’s been a year to forget. Extremely tough on and off the pitch. Looks likely that bar a miracle happening our 102 years as an EFL club is coming to an end. Sooner it’s over with the better now for me.

Rochdale have won two of their last four but go into the game against Tranmere on the back of a 3-0 battering at home to Bradford City. How will that affect their mindset going into the game against The Rovers?

Just when we looked to be building some momentum with 7 points from 9, we were back to what we have been accustomed to for most of the season on the weekend against Bradford. A defeat that pretty much confirms our relegation. If we are going to stay up (near impossible now), we are going to have to win every game left and even that might not be enough. So, I would expect they would at the bare minimum be fighting for everything but I wouldn’t count my chickens with this group of players.

What are the reasons behind the struggle? 

Where do you start? You could write a book on all the reasons behind our struggles this season.

The board has to take some of the blame. Their lack of experience of making footballing decisions have proved costly. 

For example, giving Robbie Stockdale the summer, who also himself has to take some of the blame. He was the one responsible for recruiting the worst and most unlikeable Dale squad in our club’s history.

Then you have not sacking Jim Bentley earlier than what they did, who also himself has to take some of the blame too. He will go down as one of if not the worst Dale manager in our club’s history. Didn’t embody our club’s philosophy and was tactically inept with non-existent in-game management.

But mostly, it all comes down to the players for me, who for most of the season have been an embarrassment.

In the January transfer window players such as Goalkeeper Jake Eastwood, Centre Back Rhys Bennett from Morecambe and Striker D’Mani Mellor from Wycombe were recruited. How have they settled in and were all issues addressed? 

We found a real asset in centre back Toby Mullarkey – Easily top half League 2 / lower half League 1 player for me. Owen Dodgson has been solid without being spectacular at left-back. D’Mani Mellor more recently has started to show a little something, yet it seems that with him he wants to do the right things, but he just doesn’t have the ability to pull them off.

The less said about Jake Eastwood the better though – Disaster of a signing! Rhys Bennett came with a lot of hype and hasn’t lived up to it. Dan Adshead got injured before he could even have his first training session with us.

So, overall I would say our January transfer window has been very hit and miss. We are still however crucially missing a physical ball winning midfielder, which for me was a priority for us to sign in January and still is going into the summer.

Rochdale’s interim manager is former player Jimmy McNulty. How would you describe his playing style and relationship with supporters so far?

Jim McNulty is highly thought of by Rochdale fans. Has been a great servant for the club over the years. His play style is very much patient possession based, playing out from the back through the thirds and wants us to be fluid in the attacking areas of the pitch with a lot of interchange from our attacking players.

Would you say it was the correct decision to sack Jim Bentley in late March? 

In the end, yes, though the sacking came about two months too late. He should have been sacked after us losing back to back games against at the time two fellow relegation rivals (Hartlepool and Colchester) at the end of January.

Rochdale’s chairman is Simon Gauge. What do supporters think of him and what are the current plans that they have for the club? 

Simon splits fans’ opinions. I do think he has the best intentions for the club at his heart. That’s shown with him putting money out of his own pocket into saving the club from multiple hostile takeover attempts. Also, with his plans to bring much needed external investment from the right investors into the club to stabilise the club, build our own training facilities and make us a community family football club. 

But, his lack of experience of running a football club is massively tarnishing his reputation. I mean this in the nicest way possible, he and the rest of the board need help from someone of experience that has been there and done it in the game to join them on the board to make the footballing decisions.

One man to watch out for on Tuesday night, if fit, is Ian Henderson as he has netted 7 in all competitions. How would you describe his playing style and his importance to the team? 

Ian Henderson. The all time leading Rochdale goalscorer. Give him a chance he will score. Very much a penalty box poacher type of striker. Though I do think we are a better team without Henderson in it. Henderson doesn’t have the pace he used to have or the strength to provide much of an outlet. Better coming off the bench for me.

It would be wrong to not ask about former Rovers man Danny Lloyd, who now plays for The Dale. How good has he been? 

 I can’t speak highly enough about Danny Lloyd. The impact he has made since arriving in December is remarkable. He has everything you want from a player playing for our club. Leads by example on and off the pitch. Always give his all. Makes things happen going forward. Stands up when things aren’t going well. It speaks volumes that he’s only been here half of a season and he’s mine and many others players of the season without doubt.

Where will the key battles be played out at The Spotland Stadium?

In the midfield I think. Rochdale will try to get our creative players like Ethan Brierley, Liam Kelly, Danny Lloyd and Abraham Odoh linking up. If they are allowed time on the ball they will cause Tranmere problems. Though Tranmere could attempt to combat that by physically imposing themselves on a Dale midfield that is lacking in size and physicality just like Bradford did successfully on Saturday. Will be interesting to see how that battle goes.

What is your score prediction? The last time the two clubs met was at Prenton Park in mid October as a 1-1 draw was played out. 

Expecting another close game with the points being shared with another 1-1 draw.

What are your thoughts on The Whites? Since Ian Dawes has taken over as interim manager, he was Micky Mellon’s assistant, Tranmere have won only one of their five games.

Tranmere was one of the teams I backed to get promoted this season, so surprised to see you so low in the table.

Rochdale’s Spotland Stadium. 

Tranmere lost 1-0 when they last travelled here, in mid September 2021. Danny Cashman struck an 84th minute winner for The Dale. 

If I’m being honest, I can see The Rovers getting comfortably beaten this time round. I’m expecting a Danny Lloyd goal, if fit.

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