Rochdale v Doncaster Rovers: 'The end of last season provided a lot of hope' - the opposition view
Though they had appeared to be set to be locked in the status of perennial strugglers, there is now fresh optimism Rochdale can hope for more from this League One campaign.
The latest Keith Hill era at Spotland came to an end in March and another club favourite Brian Barry-Murphy is at the helm after guiding Dale to comfortable survival in his caretaker spell.
We spoke to BBC Manchester’s Mike Minay to get the lowdown on the Lancashire side.
Q: What are the expectations at Rochdale for this season? Will they be expected to progress after seasons of struggle?
MM: Expectations are limited at Rochdale because the club are realistic and realise that they are happy at League One level.
That said, the end to last season provided a lot of hope with some impressive form and last weekend’s win at Tranmere will have done the same. I think Dale could be thinking about mid-table as the minimum this season.
Q: Has there been much change at the club over the summer?
MM: The manager remains after Brian Barry-Murphy got the job on a full time basis at the back end of last season and cleverly he’s retained most of that squad – including bringing back some of the lads who were on loan last season. He’s added giant goalkeeper Robert Sanchez to his ranks and experienced midfielder Jimmy Ryan too.
Q: How is Brian Barry-Murphy viewed at Spotland?
MM: He’s a really well liked guy and I don’t think Rochdale could have had a better replacement after club legend Keith Hill was sacked.
Saving the club from relegation only boosted his reputation and he’s a popular figure around the Crown Oil Arena.
Q: What system and style of play does Barry-Murphy favour?
MM: Guaranteed Ian Henderson will be up top.
Early season makes it difficult to know exactly what the system or plan is - but in the season opener at Tranmere they had a back four with three in midfield, and three up top - albeit those two side strikers, double up to make a five man midfield.
Q: Who are the dangermen?
MM: Working from back to front, Eoghan O’Connell was a great signing from Bury in the summer. There was interest from other clubs but Dale have done well to get his signature. Strong, solid defender.
In the midfield, Callum Camps is the central man to help form the spine of the team, and then up top you’ve got the fine wine of Ian Henderson - he gets better with age and scored a beauty at Tranmere.