Manager John Coleman and his Assistant Jimmy Bell will return to the Crown Ground on Saturday to face Accrington Stanley, a club where they spent 13-years of their managerial career.
Coleman and Bell departed the Crown Ground for Spotland in January, and this weekend’s League Two fixture will see them return to their former ground for the first time since moving to Rochdale.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, Coleman said: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to going back there and seeing a lot of people who are my friends. People can build it up any way they want to but at the end of the day, and in the grand scheme of things, it is three points and that is the way we will be addressing it.
“We’ve tried to stress to our players about the importance that they should attach to each game because you don’t get these opportunities again – you only get one go at it, one 90 minutes and that is your chance to pick up the three points. The more successful you are throughout the season at picking them up then obviously the higher up the league you’ll go. Sometimes you can pass up opportunities like we did against Burton and possibly against Dagenham but you can’t have too many of those games so you’ve really got to embrace the importance every game you play.
“Obviously Saturday’s game has the added spice of it being my old club and a lot of the players’ old club, but that counts for nothing once you kick-off and it is 11v11. You want to try and win the three points.”
Dale head into the encounter following a long away trip to Gillingham last weekend and a hard fought out draw at home to Bradford on Tuesday evening. But despite the gruelling fixture list, Coleman says it shouldn’t be a big ask for the players to keep up the standard of recent performances: “It would be a big ask if they didn’t have the heart that they’ve got. They’ve got a great deal of character about them, and after all that’s said and done, it’s their jobs.
“There were people who travelled down to Gillingham to watch us and the 99 fans who travelled had been at work all week. You’ve got to be able to cope with the physical demands of being a professional footballer.
“I can guarantee that every single Rochdale fan would trade places with them tomorrow, so you can’t feel too much sympathy for them. You can give them a pat on the back for how well they worked on Tuesday and how hard they worked against Gillingham but I expect them to work hard, you shouldn’t always be credited for hard work, that should be a given. But I think you should credit people for good football.”
Coleman’s counterpart, Paul Cook, played under Coleman and Bell during their time at Accrington before taking a step into management. After leaving Stanley in 2006 Cook went onto take up the managerial reigns at Southport where he left a year later to go Sligo Rovers. After a successful five year period at the Irish League side, he returned to the Crown Ground in February following the departure of Coleman and Bell to Rochdale.
“I’ve known Paul for years, in fact I played football with Paul when he was seven so I’ve known him all my life basically,” said Coleman. “He was a player/coach at Accrington when we were successful and he’s gone over to Sligo and proved how good a manager he is. He’s proved that he can get teams winning things because they (Sligo) have won the FAI Cup a couple of times and I think he’ll be disappointed that they didn’t win the league because it looks like they are going to now since he’s left. He built the foundations there with his team and I think if he had stayed he would have had an Irish League winners medal to his tally as well.
“He’s galvanised Accrington this season after having to change things around last season and they are where they are on merit.”