Further changes have been made this window for Rochdale with long term servant Joe Rafferty departing to Preston, and incoming Ryan McLaughlin from Blackpool to replace him.
Joe was a popular member of the team having made over 200 appearances in 7 years at the club, and was an ever-dependable figure down the right-hand side. He made 33 appearances in all competitions for Dale this season, with his last coming in the 1-1 draw with Fleetwood on Saturday.
The general consensus of the fans is that he hasn’t been at the peak of his form for the past two seasons, which has coincided with 2 of the worst seasons in recent memory for Dale. However, he was always a reliable option making marauding runs down the right-hand side and a regular outlet for the goalkeeper to distribute to, to start attacks. He was solid if not spectacular and was one of my personal favourites in the team, but he deserves his chance at a higher level and he leaves with all my thanks and praise leaving some big boots to fill for his replacement.
What is unusual for Dale fans about his replacement is they actually paid a fee for his services which is few and far between with Dale signings. This shows the faith Keith Hill must have in McLaughlin and I trust Keith’s judgement of talent completely if he is anything like Rafferty, then I will be very content.
Ryan McLaughlin emerged through Liverpool’s academy playing alongside current Rochdale player MJ Williams. He comes here with low expectations but hopefully, performances start to come pretty soon for him with Rochdale struggling at the lower ends of the table again. Perhaps not the ideal time for what is seeming like a complete squad restructuring but Rochdale fans are well versed in losing their best players for low fees, more often than not in mid-season.
Only time will tell whether Rochdale have done good business. I will give Ryan plenty of time to adapt and settle before making my decision on him. Whenever a player has been at a club for as long as Joe Rafferty has, it’s often seen as difficult to replace him and without knowing the financial details involved in the deals it’s hard to say.