After a summer of changes with a multitude of players leaving and even more coming through the door at Spotland, we’re now well into the season with a new-look Rochdale.
John Coleman and Jimmy Bell promised that we’d see a different Rochdale team this year, one that reflects their style of football and their passion on the pitch and they weren’t lying. In fact, I think I only recognised three players on the first day of the season. When we played Keith Hill’s Barnsley in the League Cup, I can safely say I recognised more men in red than in blue!
So then, initial thoughts?
It’s hard to say, there’s been some encouraging performances which deserved more than we got (the 0-0 draw with Northampton at home, for example). However there’s also been some abject performances, most notably Burton at home where 1-0 could quite easily have been four or five.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect so far is that the players look bothered. They look like they want to play for Coleman and buy into his system. This is a huge relief after most of last season’s squad looking like they’d rather be anywhere else.
The departure of talisman/record appearance holder/captain/Mr Rochdale Gary Jones hasn’t quite left the hole in the midfield that I thought it would either as we appear to have a ready-made replacement in Andrew Tutte. The former Man City youth player is one that has always been quite highly rated, but has really come into his own this season with some dominating performances, not to mention two absolutely stunning strikes against Barnsley and Chesterfield.
A special mention must go to Dele Adebola too. The big striker has got himself a bit of a reputation as a lower-league journeyman (search him on Wikipedia and it’s hard to argue), but he’s been brought in to address one major problem from last season – a lack of height. It must be said that he’s doing it well at the moment, and is chipping in with a few goals too. I was as dubious as the next man when he signed, but he’s proved me wrong so far and hopefully his legs will keep up all season.
I actually started writing this post before the weekend. At the time we had won one game, drawn two and lost two. We had two away games coming up, the first being at Wimbledon and then Rotherham on a cold Tuesday night. When you consider that we hadn’t won away since November 2011, there wasn’t really much to shout about. Then, by 5pm on Saturday, something happened.
We won an away game.
Fair enough, Wimbledon aren’t going to rip up any trees, but to finally have that monkey off our backs was a great relief and we went to Rotherham with a little hope. Bear in mind however, that Rotherham are tipped by many to do big things this season and were yet to lose at their new, ridiculously named New York Stadium. Anyway, long story short, by 10pm Tuesday night we were celebrating our second away win in four days. I’m cringing as I write this horrible cliché, but away wins really are like buses. Sorry.
It’s funny how fickle football fans can be. After the defeat to Burton and right up until the win at Wimbledon people were saying how we look like a Conference-bound team and that Coleman isn’t the man for the job…you know the drill. Two wins later we sit a place outside the playoffs and the doom and gloom has suddenly disappeared. It’s amazing what a difference four days makes.
Once again, up the Dale!
Written by Jack Oldham, We Are Going Up’s Rochdale Blogger
Jack tweets at @jacko_dale