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BBM’s Spell in Charge of Rochdale Should Start With This 11 Against Sunderland

Brian Barry-Murphy was finally confirmed as Rochdale’s next manager at a press conference on Wednesday, being given a two year contract after presiding over an unbeaten run in his four games in temporary charge. Rochdale collected eight points during this time which has seen them get themselves back into contention for survival, in what has turned into quite a battle at the bottom.

His first game in permanent charge sees his side take on their biggest challenge thus far in his tenure, with Sunderland visiting Spotland. Rochdale fans will already have a good idea of the kind of team that will be on show from what lineups they have already seen him pick.

This is my speculation of a potential line up;

Goalkeeper: 1. Josh Lillis

Lillie’s return to fitness has seen the departure of Andy Lonergan back to Middlesbrough. His spell will be fondly remembered by fans for his high quality performances, but Josh’s return should see a stability between the sticks that the Spotland faithful haven’t seen this season.

Right Back: 2. Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan has been plagued with fitness and injury problems since his arrival but still represents Rochdale’s best option at right back at this current time, so hopefully he is able to kick on and avoid the treatment table in the future.

Centre Back: 6. Ethan Ebanks-Landell

I have waxed lyrical about him before so I will try and not go over old ground but for me he is Rochdale’s best centre back and is too good for the level he us currently operating it. One of the first names on my team sheet.

Centre Back: 3. Kgosi Ntlhe

Kgosi has been a revelation since his return from injury and has played his way into the starting 11 with a couple of impressive performances, chipping in at both ends with important tackles and goals.

Left Back: 39. Joe Bunney

Sadly, potentially Rochdale’s weakest position with only two real options there if Kgosi plays centrally. I would favour Joe Bunney there over Matty Done but neither are traditional left backs.

Right Midfield: 7. Stephen Dooley

Someone who hasn’t featured frequently under BBM yet but a player I believe should come into the team, as his dribbling and marauding runs down the wing could be vital at unlocking opposition defences.

Centre Midfield: 14. Oliver Rathbone

Another one who has greatly impressed since his return from injury, always giving 100%, and bringing a consistent energy and drive to the team from the middle of the pitch. Another of my easy picks.

Centre Midfield: 27. Ethan Hamilton

I rate Hamilton highly as he is another loan player I think will be operating at a loftier level next season. He complements Rathbone nicely and isn’t short on talent or passion.

Left Midfield: 19. Bradden Inman

Seems to have been in and out of the team a lot this season, never being able to hold down a regular spot, but I see him as one of Rochdale’s better wide options. He plays in a similar mould to Dooley and I think Rochdale will benefit from his creativity and dribbling.

Centre Attacking Midfield: 40. Ian Henderson

I don’t think much needs to be said as to why his inclusion is important with him being Rochdale’s top scorer this season. Without his goal tally of 17, Dale would surely be relegated already. It is impossible to underestimate his influence.

Striker: 18. Aaron Wilbraham

Another player who has played himself into a starting spot under BBM with his recent match winning brace against Scunthorpe. He looks set for a prolonged run in the first team in a season in which he has struggled to find consistency.

Subs: Wade, MJ Williams, Done, Keohane, Camps, Adshead & Andrew

(I am currently unaware of Zach Clough’s injury status but if fit I would expect him to take one of the spaces on the bench).


TWO Key Fixtures For Rochdale in April to Avoid Relegation

Following Dales win last week over Scunthorpe, Rochdale will be looking to increase their three game unbeaten run under temporary manager Brian Barry-Murphy.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether Andy Lonergan will have his emergency loan extended by another week, but his solid displays between the posts has been a major contributory factor towards Dales recent upturn in form and results.

Looking ahead to April there are two crucial games which stand out as absolute must wins to have a chance of staying up.

19th April – Rochdale vs Wycombe

The first big game in April for me is the home game against Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers. This is a very winnable game in my opinion, especially because by this point I expect Wycombe to be safe and with a place in the play offs looking highly unlikely for them, this could be very much a nothing game to them.

This can only be to Rochdale’s advantage as they need every possible assistance to take three points from this game.

27th April – Rochdale vs Southend

Later the same month Rochdale are again at home to the currently managerless Southend United. Who dismissed Chris Powell this week following their defeat to Peterborough United, the culmination of a run of 10 games without a win. Rochdale and Southend are both struggling at the foot of the table so this is a must win game for both sides which, could lead to this being a proper old fashioned bottom of the table scrap.

Before these two games though Rochdale face the trip to Accrington in a rearranged game on Tuesday the 9th of April. The Wham Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Rochdale in the past, so any points would be a welcome edition to Dale’s strive for League One survival.

I have already previously discussed the importance of the rescheduled Accrington game, in a previous article. An air of positivity has slowly been creeping back amongst the Spotland faithful and long may it continue

Huge Win For Rochdale Edges Them One Point Off Safety

Rochdale took another step towards League One safety on Saturday with a 3-1 win against Scunthorpe United at Spotland (Crown Oil Arena).

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Goals coming from the in-form Kgosi Ntlhe, and a brace from the veteran Aaron Wilbraham being enough to secure the 3 points. Wilbraham’s double saw him become the oldest player since Steve Claridge back in 2005 to achieve this in a League One match, and also the oldest player to score in the league this season. Taking his total consecutive seasons in which he has scored at least 2 goals to 21, which is very impressive.

The after effects of the result also saw a strange coincidence, as the day after the game, Stuart McCall was sacked as Scunthorpe manager, exactly 12 months to the day after Graham Alexander suffered the same fate after losing points against Rochdale in a 1-1 draw.

Most significantly for Rochdale though, the win, coupled with the fact they were the only team to win in the bottom half of the table, with Plymouth and Bristol Rovers drawing and Accrington, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury, Southend, Walsall, AFC Wimbledon & Bradford all losing.

This has seen them gain significant ground and now know a win in their game in hand would see them out of the drop zone. Unfortunately, that game in hand is away at relegation rivals Accrington, and is now sandwiched between a tough week with Sunderland visiting Spotland and a tricky trip to Fratton Park either side of it.

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But as Dale caretaker manager Brian Barry Murphy has said “we are playing on a game to game basis” so up next is a trip to Priestfield to take on Steve Lovell’s Gillingham who currently being in 12th position. This will be no easy task, although with Dale taking seven points from three games since Brian Barry-Murphy, Tony Ellis and Lee Riley took charge – the new management team will be hoping this new found consistency will help in taking another stride towards League One safety.

Rochdale are in a 12 team Relegation Scrap, Playing This Midfield Duo Today COULD Edge Them Closer to Safety

Much has been made this week about the possibility of a 12-team relegation battle taking place in League One this season, as only 9 points separate bottom to 12th. Remarkably only 3 points separate 21st to 12th.

Rochdale have another great opportunity to take a big potential step closer to safety, when they take on Scunthorpe at Spotland today. They should be well rested after last weeks postponed game against Accrington and, according to caretaker manager Brian Barry-Murphy, only long term absentees; Josh Lillis, Rekeil Pyke & Zach Clough are missing for the match.

I believe these two players starting the game against Scunthorpe are crucial to coming away with all three points.

13. Jimmy Keohane.

Rochdale fans haven’t had much chance to see him in action since his signing. His only appearance this season coming in Dales last fixture against Oxford United. He was brought on following an injury to Ryan McLaughlin and although, not primarily a right back he looked an interesting proposition in that role.

When Keohane signed in February this year on a free transfer, former manager Keith Hill and current caretaker manager Brian Barry-Murphy spoke well of him, and expectations were high but for whatever reason, he was never given a place in his starting 11.

Many supporters at Spotland (Crown Oil Arena) were pleased to see his inclusion against Oxford, as it was seen to be Brian Barry-Murphy trying something different, which has been much needed recently, to instil a glimmer of hope for the Rochdale faithful.

14. Oliver Rathbone.

Oli’s commitment, unwavering stamina and energy has been missed at Spotland since his injury, and his return has been a contributory factor in Dale taking four points from the last two home games. His return to fitness from injury is a very welcome boost to the survival efforts, and he is perhaps a bit of an unsung hero.

Since Andy Cannon’s departure to Portsmouth in the January transfer window. Oli has been able to take over a central midfield position and hopefully, his determination will be a major part in Rochdale’s bid for League One survival.

Goalkeeper Andy Lonergan’s emergency loan has been extended by another week which is a vital move, considering his form of late. There has also been no update on the managerial position permanently and, with each day that passes by with no change you have to think BBM is strengthening his position for the role permanently.

Was Rochdale’s Next Manager at Spotland?

Following Tuesday nights less than inspiring 0-0 draw against fellow strugglers Oxford United, rumours have begin to circulate on various unofficial Rochdale AFC forums and social media discussion groups that ex-Ipswich manager Paul Hurst was seen at Spotland (Crown Oil Arena) last night.

Hurst is a man I have written about before in connection to the Rochdale job. He had a lengthy 15 year playing career, making 438 appearances for Rotherham, where he met his joint manager Rob Scott.

The two teamed up to start their management career with Ilkeston Town in which they took them from 9th to 2nd, winning promotion to the Conference North through the play offs. They shortly left due to the clubs worrying financial situation.

Rob Scott followed him to Boston where they once again earned promotion to the Conference North, as well as winning the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup and the Lincolnshire Senior Shield.

Next up was a move to Grimsby where he eventually separated from Scott after being 2 years together in the role. He eventually went onto achieve promotion with Grimsby, guiding them back to the Football League after a 6 year absence.

His success at Grimsby was noticed by Shrewsbury where he took up the managerial position in October 2016. Leading them to an ultimately unsuccessful play off final at Wembley, against the side who he featured for throughout his playing career – Rotherham.

This saw him move up a league again to Ipswich, but he was unable to ever really get a run going and won only once in his opening 14 league games and lost on penalties to Exeter in the EFL Cup. A run which saw him sacked after just 5 months, the shortest managerial reign in Ipswich history.

His sighting at Spotland has seen a shift in the betting market as seemingly people have been getting their money on him. He was 10/1 3rd favourite for the job with Sky Bet on Tuesday night. Yesterday morning he had come into 5/2 2nd favourite. Current caretaker Brian Barry-Murphy is now 3rd favourite at 3/1 with Ian Evatt still favourite but drifting from 4/5 to 6/4.

Could Hurst be the man to keep the Rochdale in League One?

BBM Needs These 2 Players In 6-Pointer Tonight Against Oxford

Brian Barry-Murphy had the perfect start to his caretaker managerial role with a win against Shrewsbury on Saturday. Goals coming from Kgosi Ntlhe and Jim McNulty sealed a very rare home win and a very welcome 3 points.

Barry-Murphy will need to put a string of results together to try and carry Rochdale out of the drop zone, and enhance his chances of getting the job full time. Unfortunately, Dale didn’t improve their league position as all the teams in and around them also won this weekend.

The 2 players that most deserve to be in Rochdale starting 11 are;

Kgosi Ntlhe

Playing at left back against Shrewsbury last Saturday, In his first game back following a nasty knee injury, Kgosi put in what was undoubtedly his best performance of the season so far. Playing solidly in his position from the off and then being in the right position to half volley from a corner into the Shrewsbury goal for his second league goal this season. His performance throughout the 90 minutes earned him a very much deserved man of the match award and therefore should be one of the first names on the team sheet tonight.

Ethan Hamilton

This 20 year old central midfield loanee from Manchester United was serving a one match suspension for last Saturdays game following a red card he received against Luton. The class he has shown over recent games has shown him to be, in many dale supporters opinion, the automatic choice to pair with the now fit Ollie Rathbone in midfield.

Ethan has proven to be a quality edition to the team this season and the kind of player that many Dale supporters would love to see kept on the books, although it is obvious he is already proving to be a class above this division.

Despite poor weather in Rochdale over the past few days, very heavy rain and strong winds, the clubs recent investment in an inflatable dome pitch protection system will surely see the game go ahead. The last thing Rochdale need is a back log of games at the end of the season caused by postponements, and to use a old footballing cliche, every game is a must win for Rochdale now if they hope to maintain their League One status.

Starting 11: Rochdale Should Start New Era Like This Against Shrewsbury

Brian Barry-Murphy’s spell as caretaker manager starts on Saturday with a home game against Shrewsbury.

Every game is crucial at this point in the season with the situation Dale now find themselves in.

Its unknown at this time if Brian would want the job permanently but he has his chance to audition for the job starting with 3 points on Saturday.

My choice for this Saturdays team would be the following in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Goalkeeper: 24. Andy Lonergan

At the time of writing it is unknown whether his emergency loan has been extended by another 7 days, but if it has, he is currently one of my first names on the team sheet. He has been in the strange position of winning man of the match despite some heavy losses of late, and has made some vital saves that at times has kept the scores less embarrassing than they might have been.

Right Back: 2. Ryan McLaughlin

This is a problem position for me, as we have a seemingly injury prone Ryan McLaughlin who was brought in from Blackpool in January to replace the outgoing Joe Rafferty. Another option could be breakthrough Academy star, Luke Matheson. I personally don’t believe is ready to start and play a full league match. If McLaughlin is fit I would edge towards him starting as he hasn’t had long to make an impression so far at the club, I just hope he spends more time on the pitch than the treatment table.

Centre Back: 6. Ethan Ebanks-Landell

One of the guaranteed starters in my team. Upon his return from suspension he absolutely must start, as he has shown his uses at both ends of the pitch since he came in on loan from Wolves in January.

Centre Back: 8. MJ Williams

Much trickier picking a centre back partner for Ethan as with no disrespect to our other options at the club, I don’t believe they are of the same level. Out of the 3 main options; MJ Williams, Jim McNulty and Ryan Delaney, I would be siding with MJ. I am a fan of his, he may not be the best natural defender but, I believe technically he is a step up from the other 2 players.

Left Back: 39. Joe Bunney

Again the left side of the defence poses just as much of a problem as the right in my opinion. Bunney was brought in on loan from Northampton in January as a solution to the problem, but I’m not convinced by his defensive capabilities. Both Matty Done and Kgosi Ntlhe have been trialed there but have failed to nail down a place. With Ntlhe currently out injured that leaves me with 2 options. When pushed, I would have to side with Bunney as Done has more use further upfield and Bunney can be a reasonable crosser of the ball.

Right Midfield: 7. Stephen Dooley

For me he has been one of Rochdale’s best signings this season, as in my opinion, he regularly looks a threat when he plays and isn’t afraid to take people on which is something Rochdale are going to need as they have to go for it to stay up.

Centre Midfield: 10. Callum Camps

Firstly its worth noting that it Oli Rathbone wasn’t injured he would be starting in my team, I’m not sure who alongside though. There is still plenty Camps can offer despite having somewhat of an indifferent season.

Centre Midfield: 25. Daniel Adshead

The absence of Hamilton through suspension, creates an opportunity for young Dan Adshead who I think could have a bright future at the club and an even brighter future in the game. He broke through into the team earlier this season impressing enough to even earn a England U19 debut.

Left Midfield: 19. Bradden Inman

The choices here for me are Matty Done or Bradden Inman for the left wing slot. Rory Holden is also capable of playing there but for me, I would be starting Inman. I believe he is the best player we have in that position.

Centre Attacking Midfield: 40. Ian Henderson

Not much needs to be said to justify his inclusion as he is one of Rochdale’s best players and one of the leagues top scorers, has a crucial role to play if they are to stay up.

Striker: 26. Zach Clough

I would like to see him given a chance starting up front if he is fully fit as I believe he possesses talent. He just hasn’t had a run in the team for reasons only known to the previous management team. Could potentially be vital to the survival effort.

To summarise my team and formation for the game on Saturday against Shrewsbury would be;

Goalkeeper: 24. Andy Lonergan

Right Back: 2. Ryan McLaughlin

Centre Back: 6. Ethan-Ebanks Landell

Centre Back: 8. MJ Williams

Left Back: 39. Joe Bunney

Right Midfield: 7. Stephen Dooley

Centre Midfield: 10. Callum Camps

Centre Midfield: 25. Daniel Adshead

Left Midfield: 19. Bradden Inman

Centre Attacking Midfield: 40. Ian Henderson

Striker: 26. Zach Clough

Subs: Brad Wade, Luke Matheson, Ryan Delaney, Matty Done, Aaron Morley, Rory Holden, Calvin Andrew

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