Manager Keith Hill has been reflecting on Tuesday night’s win over Macclesfield Town, as well as looking ahead to Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Preston North End at Spotland.
Hill opted for a 3-4-3 formation for the game at Moss Rose on Tuesday and he has explained his thoughts behind the line up.
He told Dale Player: “I’m really pleased with the balance of the squad and we wanted to use the Macclesfield game as a possession based exercise to see if we could dominate possession, create opportunities and defend when you’re playing that type of shape. I thought we achieved all of our objectives.
“It wasn’t necessary to experiment, but it’s pre-season and I need to know if the players can, if they want to and if they will do. I’ve previously said there’s no point in everyone being happy because we’re playing these games without a consequence then we get to the first game of the season and we’ve got players who’re upset about not starting and not being included in the squad, so everything I’m doing in pre-season is trying to replicate what might happen during the season. I know there’s still no significant pressure on the players, or me, or the Football Club, but we’re trying to get rid of potential problems. With respect to the Macclesfield game, we scored three goals and could have scored more, we also looked capable defensively."
Hill is also pleased with the progress he has seen during pre-season.
“I’m really pleased with the progress that has occurred since I have been back at the Football Club. We’re getting our identity back, the players are buying into the environment, they’re buying into the staple diet of the values of respect and responsibility and there is no blame game - that is why I’m really pleased with the progress on and off the field. It has been reflected in performances, both individually and collectively, during pre-season.
“It is all preparation, not just for this season, but for the future of the Football Club. It’s not shapes and formations that win you games, it’s players; players win you football matches. A Manager is responsible for the set-up of the team, yes, but the players have to engage to make it work. Good players will make it work whatever the shape, tactics or formation you employ."
Dale welcome League One side Preston North End to Spotland on Saturday for the penultimate friendly match of the pre-season schedule and Hill says they're looking to continue building momentum.
“We’re going into a difficult game against Preston, but I'll be pleased with the progress of the squad regardless of the result. I believe we’re building a momentum and an energy going into Saturday’s game and beyond, so I’ll be pleased no matter what happens at the weekend.
“There will be one or two surprises on the team sheet with respect to who plays where, but all the players will give their all for the sake of making sure we continue the momentum into the Hartlepool game.”
You can listen to the full interview with Hill now on Dale Player.