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BBM making these 2 tweaks to Rochdale will see them continue unbeaten start against Sunderland, agree?

Rochdale continued their fine start to their 2019/20 League One campaign, as they remain unbeaten after three league matches. The Dale drew 0-0 at Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, in a game they should’ve won.

Brian Barry-Murphy has done a fantastic job since taking over at Spotland. The young manager has made a couple of good loan signings in Robert Sanchez and Rhys Norrington-Davies, which has bolstered their defence, while they have a solid midfield to supply Ian Henderson, who scores goals for fun at this level.

They play host to Sunderland tonight, who will be looking for automatic promotion. The Wearsiders earned a last-minute winner at Spotland in this fixture last season. Rochdale will be hoping for revenge and a win that will likely take them into the top six.

Veteran striker Calvin Andrew will be looking for his first start of the season. Perhaps Murphy will play two strikers to try and benefit from Sunderland’s less physical backline. Alim Oxturk and Jordan Willis are quick, good defenders, but perhaps not favourites if involved in a physical battle with a striker like Andrew.

Sunderland’s main attacking threat comes from Aiden Mcgeady on the left side of midfield. Jimmy Keohane has been operating at right-back so far this season, I wonder whether Keohane will play on the right of midfield, and Murphy will play a defender behind him to double up on Mcgeady and stop the threat.

I expect a very good game tonight, if Rochdale can supply Henderson and play like they’ve done so far this season, they can certainly come out of this game with a positive result.

2 weeks of the transfer window left, what do Rochdale need to do

Rochdale have enjoyed a solid start to their season, taking five points from their opening three league matches, and beating Bolton 5-2 in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

The Dale won their opening day fixture at Tranmere Rovers 2-3, with striker Ian Henderson grabbing two and loanee Rhys Norrington-Davies netting on debut. In their opening game at Spotland, Rochdale drew 1-1 with Doncaster Rovers and 0-0 yesterday. It’s been a good start to the season, how far can Brian Barry-Murphy take them?

It’s a big two weeks for them into terms of the transfer window. Rochdale needs to add depth to a good starting 11, to be competing at the right end of the table come May. They have arguably the best goalscorer in the division, Henderson, however an injury to him would leave them light on goals.

Also, although they’ve scored nine goals in three matches, they’ve still conceded five which is a worry. Obviously if you sacrifice defensive thoughts to score more goals, you are likely to concede more, however Murphy may be looking to sign a central defender to help steady a leaky defence.

I think Rochdale have an exciting team, a manager that wants to succeed and is supported by the fans. They’ll have a good season, however, their lack of depth does worry me, when you look at teams like Sunderland and Portsmouth, in comparison. If Murphy can perhaps poach a couple of loan players and pick up a couple of permanent signings to bolster his options, particularly in defence, then Rochdale will be well prepared for a shot at the play-offs.

BBM should set up his Rochdale back 4 like this to frustrate Shrewsbury & take the 3 points

Rochdale have enjoyed a good start to the season, The Dale won their opening game 3-2 at newly-promoted Tranmere Rovers, before drawing against Doncaster at Spotland.

A hidden gem

Robert Sanchez joined in the summer from Brighton and Hove Albion. The youngster has started the opening three matches, and despite conceding seven goals, it’s looking like Brian Barry-Murphy has found his number one for the season. Sanchez spent time on loan at Forest Green Rovers during the 2017/18 campaign, so will be looking to impress this time around in a higher division.

Jimmy Keohane will operate at right-back again, the versatile Irishman has played a number of positions since signing for Rochdale last summer. A reliable player that will do his job pretty much anywhere on the pitch.

On the other side, Rochdale look to have found a gem in the loan signing of Rhys Norrington-Davies from Sheffield United. The left-back has already chipped in with a goal and an assist in the opening two league games and just provides an extra attacking option to Barry-Murphy. It’s important that full-backs add that width and quality into the box, particularly when you have a striker like Ian Henderson, who usually profits from opportunities.


Jim McNulty provides that experience and leadership needed in central defence. At 34, the defenders best years are probably behind him. However, his leadership skills and influence off the pitch, are priceless to The Dale. He will be partnered by new summer signing Eoghan O’Connell, who signed from Bury. The Irishman made 31 appearances last season and has headed to Rochdale hoping to continue the solid form that saw them promoted to League One.

Shrewsbury Town is one of the hardest places to go in League One, however, The Dale are the underdogs and are scoring goals, I give them a big chance of getting a result.

With Wigan Athletic’s midfield looking like this, Leeds Utd stand no chance

Wigan Athletic host Leeds United tomorrow, with both hoping to bounce back from disappointing results.

The Latics lost 3-0 to Lancashire rivals Preston North End, while Leeds drew 1-1 at Elland Road against Nottingham Forest, in a game they largely dominated.

I thought we lost the game in the midfield last week, whether that was down to personal or Paul Cook not matching up against Preston’s three-man midfield is another question.

Anyway, let’s have a look at how I think our midfield may look tomorrow against Leeds.

Wigan’s Midfield

Sam Morsy will come straight back into the side after he missed the first three matches with a hamstring injury. A vital part of our team will enjoy a big match vs Leeds on return. He just leads by example, with his pressing, energy and desire. A massive miss at Preston. Alongside him, I’d go with Joe Williams. I thought he was very good during mid-week vs Stoke City. A tough tackler who will support Morsy in midfield. I feel we need more protection to our defence, if we play 4-2-3-1, that’s four attacking players on the pitch. That’s enough to hurt teams, the two behind them are there to recycle the ball, and win it back when you lose it.

On the right side, I’d go with Jamal Lowe. Again, he impressed me against Stoke. Gavin Massey will be pushing for a start, but I just feel like a big-money signing (in Wigan terms) will give that crowd an extra lift. Lowe has bags of pace and energy, what a time to score your first goal, hint hint.

On the other wing will be Michael Jacobs. Although he was poor at Preston, everyone was. Jacobs was outstanding on the opening day vs Cardiff City, so deserves another chance now he’s back to full fitness. One of the players who are brilliant at home, playing higher up the pitch, away from home he seems to struggle due to that lack of blistering pace.

In the central attacking midfield spot should be Josh Windass. He ripped Cardiff apart on an opening day win, grabbing a goal and assist. At Preston he seemed to play as a second striker, it didn’t suit him as we had nobody to play him through on goal. Windass is better dropping deep and running at defences with pace, I expect Moore to make his home debut and link up well with Windass.

Are Rochdale dark horses for promotion?

It’s early doors, but Rochdale has made a pretty good start – scoring goals and picking up points.

I give Rochdale a chance of finishing play-offs or higher for one big reason, Ian Henderson. One of the best and most proven strikers in that league, over the past five seasons. A goalscorer gets you so far in that league. If they keep him fit, he’ll score 20+ goals and I just wonder where that will take them.

Brian Barry-Murphy did brilliantly last season after taking over, keeping The Dale in the division, albeit comfortably in the end. He’s an ambitious young manager, with the backing of their support, who knows how far he can take them.

Josh Lillis is a very good, experienced goalkeeper. Jim McNulty provides strength and leadership at the heart of the defence. Rhys Norrington-Davies looks a great find from Sheffield United, the defender has provided a goal and assist already.

Matt Done is a quality player in that league, guarantees creativity and goals from midfield, but the outcome of their season rests on Henderson I feel. If they can keep creating him chances, defend solidly, they’ll be challenging at the right end of the table.

Henderson has two goals in the first two matches. It’s no fluke, he’s done it time and time again. I’m amazed a Portsmouth or Sunderland didn’t sign him this summer. Ok, he’s not a glamorous name, but with service, he’ll get you out of this division. Sunderland took a £4 million punt on Will Grigg which is looking like failing, Henderson would’ve been peanuts considering his age. A guaranteed goal scorer.

It’s very early days, however, Rochdale has started the season brightly, exciting times for the fans.

Salford City: Taking League Two football to new levels

Salford City is the talk of the town, with that brings expectation and pressure. Can they deliver and win a third promotion on the bounce?

Many expected The Ammies to breeze through the National League last season, however, that wasn’t the case. Salford was made to settle for the play-offs, in which they defeated AFC Fylde in the final at Wembley, 3-0.

The bookmakers made Salford immediate favourites to win League Two, following the hype created by football fans, I can only assume. It’s their first-ever season in the EFL, and despite having a billionaire who is a part stakeholder in the club, they must abide by Financial Fair Play rules and have to remember, they are still only a League Two club, one step at a time.

The class of 92 ambition

I admire their ambition. The class of 92 aren’t doing this as a publicity stunt or a job on the side, they want to take this club to the very top. Some people will like them, others will hate. They are following all the same rules as the other 23 teams, if anything, it makes the rest of the league try 10x harder to beat them. “Let’s get one of over on Neville & co. Let’s show them what money can’t buy” etc.

Salford has a good manager in Graham Alexander, someone who has experience of both playing and managing at a lower level. It’s important to just do your job. Do the basics, sign hungry players, play simple football and win games. They haven’t been caught up in the whole media hype, it’s just a club going about their business and achieving their targets like every other club.

We all know what social media is like these days. In a couple of months the hype and talk will die down, they’ll be treated and talked about just like any other club.

Wigan Athletic desperate to find cure for away woes

Wigan Athletic’s start to the 2019/20 season has suggested they are in for more of the same. Good home performances, but poor away.

The Latics won 41 points at home during the 2018/19 Championship campaign, the 10th best in the division. While winning just 11 points on the road, the joint worst in the league.

No other team had a bigger points difference, in terms of home/away points. Wigan’s was 30, while Brentford’s was 28 – who were the closest to The Latics.

You could argue that as long as you hit a points total you’re happy with, by the end of the season, it doesn’t matter where or how you get to that target. Although, if your home form suddenly goes out of the window, you are in big, big trouble.

I’m not going to pretend I know why our form at home is so much stronger than it is away if I did know I’m sure Paul Cook would be on the phone. However, Saturday’s performance at Preston was terrible, there’s no point covering it up. If we want to progress this season we have to do better on the road.

I do worry whether our squad has enough experience, fight and grit to succeed away from home in this division. Preston started with a midfield three on Saturday, we had Lee Evans and Lewis McLeod who just got overran and outbattled all day. Without trying to sound harsh, why did Cook expect any different to happen? These two aren’t defensive midfielders to start with, they are good technical footballers, not Sam Morsy who is brilliant at winning the ball back.

The midfield battle

The game of football is won and lost in midfield, on Saturday you could see from minute one that we were never winning that midfield battle. I wonder whether it’s time to pack the midfield, play with two quick, wide wingers and a target man up front. A 4-3-3.

Josh Windass was an absolute passenger on Saturday. We were too deep to play him in behind, and couldn’t get the ball off Preston most of the time, due to the lack of numbers in midfield.

Whatever happens, going forward, we need a serious shakeup. We can’t afford to just rely on our home form again, it’s not fair on travelling supporters.

‘This club is on a massive decline along with the attendance’s because it’s NOT the club we grew up to love’ Oldham Athletic fans react!

Oldham Athletic lost their opening home game of the season against Crewe Alexandra, despite taking the lead after just two minutes.

The Latics have lost both of their opening league games, following last weeks defeat at Forest Green. Laurent Banide is under immediate pressure, as judging from the fans’ reaction to the performance on Saturday, they aren’t warming to him just yet.

Let’s have a look at who they are pointing the finger at…

‘Salford City lost a game. It’s hardly time for panic stations’

Crawley Town handed Salford City their first-ever EFL defeat, as they won 2-0 at The People’s Pension Stadium.

This will have come as a shock to some, but is it really? It’s the start of the season, nobody is fully up to speed and it’s League Two football, after all, everyone beats each other.

Salford were the pre-season bookie’s favourites to win the league, despite it being their first ever seen in the EFL. That’s not Salford’s fault. They don’t make up the odds.

Having the Class of 92 involved brings an enormous amount of outside pressure and expectation from the media and neutral fans. However, let’s remember they have League Two players who’ve probably not dealt with that weight of expectation ever in their careers.

I saw suggestions this will be a wake up call and culture shock, nonsense. Graham Alexander knows League Two as well as any other manager. He’ll know they’re in for a long, tough scrappy season. They lost a game. Hardly time for panic stations.

People talk as if Salford have just luckily found themselves in League Two, and are trying to win it with players with no experience, who have suddenly been shocked by the toughness of the league. Way off the mark. Salford has the squad to fight and scrap for points while having that balance of quality too.

They’re a good side that has earned the right to be in League Two, along with the other 23 teams. At the moment, everyone is watching and talking about their results. Wait until 10 games in, the hype train will die down and Salford can get to work.

How Wigan Athletic’s starting 11 should look vs Preston North End tomorrow, agree?

Wigan Athletic started their season with a 3-2 victory over promotion favourites Cardiff City. Second-half goals from Michael Jacobs, Josh Windass and Lee Evans saw The Latics continue their fine home form.

Last season, Wigan began their season with a 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday at home. Followed by a 4-0 defeat at Preston. Guess who they play on Saturday? Preston. At Deepdale. Please, not another 4-0.

Dan, from The Football Manc Cave, predicts how Paul Cook’s side may look on Saturday…

I’m usually a one for maintaining a winning side, why change something that ain’t broken? However, we should have our captain back fit and have signed a big-money striker since the Cardiff win, so I’m expecting a couple of tweaks to the starting 11.

David Marshall will continue in goal. Although he made a slight error for the first goal on Saturday, he recovered well after and his distribution was very good. Nathan Byrne looked back to his best last week and is comfortable playing as a wing-back if we play that formation, same as Robinson on the other side, pleased we signed him and his performance vs Cardiff reinforced why. Chey Dunkley will be used to combat Preston’s direct style, while Danny Fox will partner him a strong looking back five.

A derby game

If Morsy is fit, he plays. It’s his type of game, a fiery derby that we’ll need to fight in and win our fair share of tackles. It’s harsh to drop either of Lewis McLeod and Lee Evans after Saturday, they were both outstanding, however, Morsy is captain.

Anthony Pilkington was our best player in pre-season. The winger looked sharp on Saturday, worked hard and helped to cause the Cardiff defence problems. Jamal Lowe and Gavin Massey will be pushing for starts, but Michael Jacobs looked back to his best. He struggled with injuries last season, but returned with a goal on Saturday and was arguably one of our best players.

Josh Windass. MOTM. Let him run ragged. I liked his directness last week, pick up the ball and run at defenders, get in-behind their back-line. I hope that performance gives himself and the fans confidence, score a hat-trick on Saturday and you’ll have a statue, never mind everyone’s backing.

I expect Kieffer Moore to make his debut on Saturday. Jason Roberts scored 30 seconds into his Latics debut away at Preston. No pressure, Kieffer. Cook has been looking for a striker all summer, we’ve eventually signed one, let’s waste no time in getting him involved. Make yourself an instant hero.

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