In the run-up to tomorrow’s big game (what do you mean Rochdale had a big game in the week), I put some questions to Dale supporter Nathan Butterworth (@nathantoothy90).
How would you assess your start to the season? It’s been very much hit and miss. [The 3-0 win at] Southend was as good as we have played in years, but then [the 6-0 loss at] Peterborough I don’t think I have seen as many defensive mistakes in one game in my life. I think since the United draw, players wanted to not get injured and just cruised through a little bit. Hopefully we pick up a bit again now.
What were the pre-season expectations and have they changed at all? With the size of the squad, I expected to be just above the relegation battle – be close to being in it but never really in trouble. I still expect us to be around there. With Bury gone and Bolton having the points deduction, there are only really two places left, and from what I saw of Southend and Tranmere, I expect us to be above them.
You’re gaining a reputation for your highly possession-based style, which isn’t exactly common at this level. Just sum that up. Is it working? If not, why? It’s good when it works like it did at Southend and Tranmere for 85 minutes, but a lot of the time the possession is in non-threatening areas, so it’s almost like possession for the sake of possession. It still needs some work and we need more attacking players, but it’s a clear style of play that [manager] Brian Barry-Murphy wants and I’m all for it.
Who have been your players of the season so far and why? For me it’s been [left-back] Rhys Norrington-Davies; his fitness levels are unbelievable. For 90 minutes he will be up and down the left side and strong in the tackle. I don’t think he will play at this level again and should be playing Championship level when his loan with us [from Sheffield United] finishes. [Attacking midfielder] Callum Camps has scored a few, so I think he deserves a mention, but we have been inconsistent so it’s hard to really pick a few.
How do you reckon the game will pan out? Do you have a score prediction? I’m not sure because I think the United game will have taken a lot out of everybody. I’m hoping for a 1-1, but I think you might take the three points. Formation will more than likely be 4-3-3 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same 11 as against United with maybe [veteran striker] Aaron Wilbraham starting instead of [midfielders] Aaron Morley or Ollie Rathbone. It’s hard to predict, though, because we don’t know how everybody is after the midweek game.