We speak to two Rochdale fans who are delighted with the performance of their manager and board.
Thanks to REP for asking the questions…
About the fans…
CHRIS – I’ve supported Rochdale since 1988. My dad is a Man United fan but started taking me to watch Rochdale as a more local, cheaper alternative. It’s stuck with me ever since. In that time there have been some great memories but, on the whole, they have been punctuated by lengthy spells of dire football. Since 2007, however, the club has enjoyed great comparable success and there has been something of a positive paradigm shift in the perception others now hold of Rochdale AFC.
DAVID – I’m David Chaffey, I’m 31 and have been watching Dale for over 20 years now. I never miss at home and though I don’t get to every away game anymore, I’d say I go to most.
How do you expect your team to do this season?
CHRIS – We’re at the tail end of a run of bad form at the minute. However, I still expect us to finish safely in mid-table. That in itself will be an achievement for us.
DAVID – The target for the club was to avoid relegation, as it was last season. As it happens, we finished just outside the play-offs last season so I think the expectation level increased with supporters. However, I looked at our squad and as we haven’t really properly replaced Matty Done and Scott Hogan, I’m predicting a harder season and a mid-table finish of around 13th which will still rank as a decent season in fairness.
Who should we watch out for?
CHRIS – Ian Henderson, when on his game, can be lethal. He’s not had the best of seasons so far, but did hit a couple against Doncaster on Saturday, his first being especially classy. We have a lot of talented players at this club. Donal McDermott, Jamie Allen and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing can all change games on their day.
DAVID – Ian Henderson is our star man. He was our top scorer last season and is our talisman. He’s not been firing as well this season as yet and has a couple of injuries but hopefully the brace he got away at Doncaster will allow him to kick on. Also watch out for little Jamie Allen in midfield. Come through the ranks at Dale and even at his young age was named as captain this season. Donal McDermott (or Donaldo as we call him) is a tremendous player, full of trickery and ability but can be very hit and miss but one to watch for all the same.
What are your thoughts on your manager?
Keith Hill is unarguably the best manager to ever hold the post at this football club…
CHRIS – Keith Hill is unarguably the best manager to ever hold the post at this football club. He has taken an unfashionable, penurious club and made it known for flowing football and overachievement. Last season, the club accomplished its highest ever league finish − eighth in League One. With our budget and gate numbers, that is a fantastic achievement. Hill’s signings this season, perhaps, haven’t been as inspired as previous years, but we’re still holding our own in this division. Hill believes strongly in promoting from the youth set-up, too, which helps us to attract the best young talent in the Greater Manchester area.
DAVID – We don’t make many signings. We’re Northern and don’t like spending money. We have brought Jim McNulty in from Bury on a free who has done well and we’ve also brought in Lewis Alessandra from Plymouth but he’s not really been given much of a chance since joining which is disappointing. I’m a massive fan of our manager and he’s without doubt the best manager in our history but he does make some strange decisions at times. He constantly leaves Alessandra out of the side in favour of Joe Bunney which isn’t popular with our fans but we can’t moan too much with his record of being in charge.
What are your thoughts on your board?
The way the club is now run is very different to the past…
CHRIS – Our chairman is a lifelong supporter of the football club. For me, that’s a very important fact. He also runs his own business, successfully, alongside the football club. The fact he isn’t a full-time chairman here means he doesn’t meddle in first-team affairs or things he openly admits don’t concern him. He trusts the people he employs to do a job. He is prudent financially and, while that means we have to sell our best players on occasion, it gives fans peace of mind that the club is being run correctly. We’re not questioning our sustainability like a certain club down the road. The commercial activity of Rochdale AFC could be better, but it is improving season by season. Perhaps once we finally own our stadium, we can exploit many more opportunities for extra revenue.
DAVID – Our board are fantastic, we might still be little old Rochdale but the way the club is now run is very different to the past where we’ve nearly gone out of the league and run the club on a shoestring. The board have built the club to be one of the most well run clubs in the football league. We don’t have any rich investors, we don’t live beyond our means like clubs like Bury do and we’ve never been in administration.
Which one Vale player would you take past or present?
CHRIS – Your man Tom Pope moved to the undesirables down the road. He is one player I’ve always marked out as a danger man.
DAVID – I think we’re a striker short so I’d have liked to have had Tom Pope in our squad, but Bury and their Monopoly money got their instead.
How do you expect Vale to do this season?
CHRIS – Pretty much the same as us. A mid-table finish. You seem to be picking up results where it counts – the 3-2 against Chesterfield recently being a notable one.
DAVID – I’d have expected a mid-table finish, a bit like ourselves.
What is your team’s most memorable game with Vale?
I almost forgot about Calvin Andrew’s last-minute winner against you guys last season. That’s to go in!
CHRIS – We’ve certainly played you a lot more in the past decade than I remember previous. A couple of 2-2 draws back when we were both in League Two stick in the mind, but I have to admit to not finding our meetings all that memorable. However, I can’t believe I almost forgot about Calvin Andrew’s last-minute winner against you guys last season. That’s to go in!
DAVID – Our games against each other aren’t normally memorable but I do remember us playing the opening game of the season a few years back at Vale Park and we looked on course for defeat until Joey Thompson scored a wonderful header to equalise.
A score prediction?
CHRIS – I’m hoping for a positive outcome for us by the odd goal. I’ll go for 2-1.
DAVID – We do a lot better at home than we do away from home so I’ll back us to win, I’ll say 2-0 with Henderson and Vincenti to score. I hope I’m not far off with that prediction.
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