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Rochdale fans feel hard done by following Dan Adshead’s move to Norwich City

It was announced yesterday that Rochdale academy graduate Dan Adshead completed a move to recently promoted Norwich City. Signing a long term contract to play with their Under 23 initially for an undisclosed fee.

He made a total of 16 appearances in his breakthrough season, scoring once in the EFL Trophy against Leicester Under 23s in the group stages. He also managed to make three appearances for England Under 18s and scored on his debut.

The rumoured fee of roughly 300k has been floated around the internet. This hasn’t gone down well with sections of the fan base who believe, he’s worth much more than that. Especially as Manchester United were rumoured to be in for him for £1 Million last season. No doubt the deal for him will contain add ons should certain clauses be met.

Adshead has long been recognised as a promising talent, with former manager Keith Hill even inviting him to train with the first team a couple of seasons ago when he was only 15.

Dan showed a maturity way beyond his years when breaking into the first team last season, and could go on to be the best academy export the club has produced for quite some time. He will be sorely missed but no one can begrudge him the move to a higher level.

Rochdale have to set the achievable goal following quiet preseason

Rochdale’s final UK pre-season fixture was confirmed on Friday with a trip to local neighbours Oldham pencilled in for Saturday 20th July. This adds to Blackburn, Huddersfield and Bradford at Spotland on the 14th, 17th and 27th of July respectively and away trips to Ramsbottom and Hyde on the 24th and 30th of July.

With the new kits released on Saturday ahead of the new season, this is a great time to predict what’s potentially ahead for the Spotland faithful this coming season.

Much is being made about the lack of business or contract news coming from the club so far this summer. Players are still under contract until the 30th of June, and it has become quite common for players to delay contract offers while they or their agents assess all their options and see if a better offer comes in.

It is safe to assume at least half of the players offered deals will sign, namely Matty Done, Jimmy Keohane, Aaron Morley, Kgosi Ntlhe, Ollie Rathbone, Brad Wade, Aaron Wilbraham and the Youth Team’s Lewis Bradley, Harrison Hopper, Florent Hoti and Fabio Tavares.

With Rochdale having a rather large squad last season I do not personally expect an abundance of signings this summer, rather more quality over quantity.

With the right additions, League One can be a lot more comfortable for Rochdale this coming season. A mid-table finish has to be an achievable goal. If they can avoid the many defensive errors and inconsistent performances from certain players that led to Dale struggling last season.

With Brian Barry-Murphy taking the squad to Portugal on July 4th for warm weather training, this will be his chance to assess how well fitness has been maintained over the close season and see where perhaps signings may be needed.

Rochdale’s Season Tickets Are Going Well, But What Do Dale Fans Expect Ahead Of the New Campaign?

The quiet summer at Spotland has continued thus far with very little news other than season ticket sales numbers, which have been steadily climbing. At last count on Friday 1750 had been sold.

But what can those fans who renew or even purchase a season ticket for the first time expect?

In what was another difficult season for the club again last season, safety was only clinched in the penultimate game and there were casualties along the way with; Firstly Joe Thomson, the hero of the previous season announcing his retirement. Then long term chairman Chris Dunphy announced his departure in December. January saw stalwarts such as Joe Rafferty and Andy Cannon sold in the transfer window. And finally, of course, the departure of long term manager and assistant, Kieth Hill and Chris Beech in March.

The fans can realistically expect a similar level of performance that the players were putting in towards the end of the season which saw results improve. But BBM isn’t stupid and knows his business this summer could make or break his fledgeling managerial career. He certainly is seemingly allowing himself time to properly assess in his first summer as a manager.

Rochdale fans have been spoiled of late, with news regarding the team traditionally flowing through May and June whilst Kieth Hill tried to shape his Rochdale team. The longer no news is announced is perhaps making the fans sweat on the contracts of those players who have been offered fresh terms, however.

Kieth’s replacement came from within, with his first-team coach Brian Barry-Murphy given the job albeit, temporarily initially before overseeing a run of form which saw Dale beat the drop and gave the board little choice but to make his contract as manager a more permanent one.

All the fans can do at this point is to stay calm and patient. While showing the same faith in the new management team that the board has shown.

Two Returning Loan Players Rochdale Had Who Will Go On To Greater Things

Now that the retained list has been published it has been confirmed that all loanees, namely Joe Bunney, Zach Clough, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Ethan Hamilton, Rory Holden & Rekeil Pyke will be returning to their parent clubs.

All were thanked for their contributions but some will be missed more than others, as the performances they have shown at Spotland this season will surely mean they will go on to operate at a higher level in the future.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell

From the minute he signed, it was obvious that his capture, albeit temporary, was somewhat of a coup. He is a player that is easily capable of operating in a higher division.

At this stage in his career, it appears unlikely he would achieve a regular position in Wolves Premier League squad. So the natural progression for Ethan would be to be loaned out again to one of the promotion-chasing sides in League One, or would even be a suitable candidate for most sides in the Championship.

Ethan Hamilton

Hamilton was a bit of an unknown quantity coming to Spotland on loan from Man Utd in January., this was Hamilton’s first loan move away from Old Trafford. I did a little piece on Hamilton before his move in January, but with only youth team games to go off, it was hard to assess how he would be.

Hamilton proved to be a outstanding addition to the team though, scoring crucial goals and his general passion and commitment to the team shown him to be developed beyond his years. I fully expect him to be on loan at a bigger club or, even a higher level in the near future as he looks to continue his development.

As is usual for Rochdale and clubs of our size I fully expect Brian Barry-Murphy to dip into the loan market again this coming transfer window, in his bid to improve on what was a difficult season for Rochdale AFC.

Bury & Stockport Are Up, Bolton Down, Salford in The Playoffs, with Rochdale & Wigan Safe

This is the EFL and Below Show from the Manchester Football Social, your look at all of the footballing action in Greater Manchester that doesn’t come from the Premier League.

Niall McCaughan is joined by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave after a busy period which saw Bury promoted to League One despite their off-field issues, and Stockport County making a welcome return to the 5th tier of English football after winning the National League North.

Bolton continue to be shrouded in ownership doubts and were relegated from the Championship in a week where the players went on strike – the same can’t be said for Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic who dug in to secure their place in the second tier for another season, much like Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale side who have avoided relegation in League One.

Salford are unsure of their fate as they prepare to take on the National League playoffs – plenty to talk about of course on this week’s episode!

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What’s gone wrong for Rochdale’s Zack Clough?

Zach Clough’s signing on loan from Nottingham Forrest on the 31st of August was seen as some what of a coup for Rochdale at the time. With his signing seen as a massive statement of intent from Dale to kick on after their tense relegation battle last season.

He started off well even scoring on his debut against Bury in a Checkatrade Trophy group game, a game which his obvious talent was there for all to see. However, for whatever reason he just never really kicked on and got a solid run in the team.

Clough seemingly was almost constantly on the treatment table, with small niggling injuries that cost him large parts of the first half of the campaign. Rochdale fans we’re not getting what they thought out of the 2.25m rated man and began to grow frustrated at his lack of playing time. 

There was rumours of a falling out between Keith Hill and Clough over a poor attitude towards training, albeit there were many rumours of such with Keith before his sacking in March. This rumour was surely put to bed by the fact Hill resigned Clough on loan for the rest of the season on deadline day in January, after he had returned back to Forest seemingly under the radar.

Unfortunately, once again he never managed to see the pitch long enough to gain any momentum with injuries seeing him restricted to fleeting appearances on the bench.

The former Bolton Wanderers player managed only 540 minutes of football in the two short loan spells at the club this season. Scoring one and assisting one in the Checkatrade trophy – after oozing class in his first days at Nottingham Forest the future for Clough doesn’t look bright.

He will go down as one of frustrating signings in recent Rochdale history due to his obvious talents never fully utilised.

 

BBM Will Be Looking To Cement League One Status With a Win Over Southend Tomorrow

Its been quite an interesting few months at Spotland. In March with the the club being mired in a second successive relegation battle, a bold step was taken to dismiss the most successful manager in their history and appoint the first team coach, Brian Barry Murphy to the caretaker role.

He took on the challenge with both hands though, to date collecting 17 points out of a possible 27, leading to him being appointed permanent manager at the start of April. Many Dale supporters have attributed this turn of events to BBM’s more consistent approach to team selection than his predecessor. He has tended to choose experience over youth, for example Aaron Wilbraham, who was widely criticised by many at Spotland has shown a complete turnaround getting regular game time under BBM and contributing with a much needed three goals.

Recent results have seen Dale catapult from second bottom to as high as 15th with only two games to to and now they only need to at most win one of those games to ensure League One survival. Dale supporters hope that this will be achieved at this Saturday’s final home game of the season against Southend United, who have relegation worries of their own to contend with. Southend are aiming to maximise their away support by generously laying on free coach travel to Spotland for travelling supporters.

Much must be said of the turn around that Barry-Murphy has brought to a team who appeared to be in free fall, conceding 44 goals in the last 18 league games of Kieth Hills spell in charge. Dale have conceded nine in nine under BBM’s leadership with five of those coming against sides who currently sit in the top four.

This seasons relegation battle in League One has been widely regarded as one of the tightest in recent memory due to the sheer number of teams that were in the fight at one time or another. With two games left only one side is confirmed relegated and if Wimbledon don’t win on Saturday, Rochdale are safe without needing any more points. If Dale win or draw with Southend they are safe. With Plymouth and Scunthorpe playing each other in the last match it’s only possible for one of them to gain enough points to pass them.

Many supporters now have Rochdale down as all but safe, but I am still erring on the side of caution. A win against Southend is far from a forgone conclusion but with results hopefully going Rochdale’s way, a point could be enough for survival, and will be left to be seen how BBM manages in his first summer transfer window as manager.

Rochdale travel to Portsmouth looking to take a step closer to safety

Looking back over the head-to-head meetings between the sides (Stats Via 11v11) the sides have met ten times since 1978. In them matches Rochdale have only managed one win – 2104 – and two draws.

Now in Brian Barry-Murphy’s mind, however much he’d love to win every game, he’d much prefer to take points off the teams in and around them and sacrifice any losses against the likes of Sunderland and Portsmouth.

Nevertheless, the renewed confidence within the squad following only one defeat in his six games in charge, and hoisting themselves out of the League Two relegation zone is there for all to see.

Barry-Murphy has instilled a way to win and got a tune out of a squad of players, who were quite frankly underachieving and under performing under the old regime for most of the season.

An away fixture to a team who have four straight wins under their belt in the league and fighting for a promotion place is not best welcomed. However, Rochdale pushed Sunderland close last week and they can draw experience from that result, alongside the fact they kept a clean sheet in a win mid week in the league since they last played Accrington Stanley back in November.

There are a six points separating 10 places in the league, a couple of wins and Dale could see themselves midtable, however, a couple of losses and they could be back in the relegation zone – it’s that tight.

With games coming up against Southend and Wycombe, who are both on a poor run of results, they are must win matches. So today, even if Dale grab a point it can be seen as a hugely positive result and one that further cements Barry-Murphys amazing turnaround at the club.

Rochdale fans, what do you think the result will be today?

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).

Heartbreak for Stockport County, Rochdale’s Survival Chances and it’s Too Early to Hand Out Awards!

This is the EFL and Below Show, your weekly look at all of the footballing action in Greater Manchester from outside of the Premier League.

Niall McCaughan from the Manchester Football Social is joined in the studio by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave.

Stockport County were within minutes of a Wembley final in the FA Trophy but came agonisingly short in a tense affair at Edgeley Park – County commentator Chris Ridgway joins us to chat Stockport’s season so far.

Rochdale picked up a valuable 3 points at the weekend and are still in with a great shout of staying in League One for another season – and the lads fume of the premature awarding of ‘Manager of the Season’ accolades!

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