Manager Keith Hill spoke to Dale Player following Tuesday night’s 5-2 victory over Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road…
“It was a risk but we’ve got the reward," said Hill."I think people probably looked at the starting line-up and thought he’s gone mad, but there has got to be a certain bravery, or stupidity to what I do, and the reward was the result and the performance.
“At the end of the game it felt better than winning promotion because there was a massive risk in picking that side. We had looked at the opposition and we, believe it or not, come up with plans, and we felt as we grew into the game that the plan could evolve and it did.
“There was a nervousness to the way that we started and they quite rightly took the lead. We could have gone under, I could have been stood here looking like an idiot and people would have been questioning me more than they already do, but we didn’t. It[Crewe’s opening goal] seemed to invigorate us and once we got that foothold in the game, and Jamie Allen and Bastien started taking a grip of the centre of midfield, then the plan, for me, worked to perfection.”
Ian Henderson and Matty Done started up top for Dale in place of one of the club's recognised strikers, but Hill says you can get bogged down with positions.
“It’s not numbers anymore because Ian Henderson is number 40. I was talking before the game and I wish we could lay out numbers one to 18 because tonight we were playing Ian Henderson as a number nine. It was a massive risk, but like I said, the players have got the reward, the football club has got the rewards and the staff have got the rewards for coming up with the plan.
“The players have got to enjoy tonight, embrace tonight and realise that hard work gets you a lot of rewards.”
He continued: “For a manager and a management team, we’re working harder now than we ever did at any time last year. We were an outstanding side in League Two and now we’ve got to be competitive in League One. It has been difficult for the players and it will continue to be difficult.
“We’re playing Bristol City at the weekend, and like Burnley found it difficult on Monday night playing against Chelsea, we’ll find it difficult playing against Bristol City, but we’re looking forward to the fixture.
“We’ve come up with a formula tonight, whether or not it works again I’m not too sure, it might not work at home against Bristol City. I’m not too sure where I’m going to go to, it was never my thought process to go with it again on Saturday, so call me mad, but I’m going to have to come up with a different plan.”
Done netted his first competitive professional hat-trick in the win, and Hill praised the 26-year-old, who featured at left-back for Dale during the second half of last season.
“I’m delighted with his performance, delighted with his energy and delighted with his enthusiasm. I trust him and he trusts me. He’s comfortable, he’s happy and he knows that no matter what he does, even if he does make mistakes, that he’ll be forgiven by myself, the staff and the players. It was a great hat-trick, but for me, if I had to pick a Man of the Match, it would be Ian Henderson.”
The full interview is available on Dale Player.