You must be happy to have won so convincingly?
“Yeah, the performance was really good. We got want we wanted from the game, in terms of what we’ve been working on while we’ve been here. Particularly defending and attacking as a unit.
“The other pleasing thing about the performance – particularly from my perspective – was how well we played despite the boys having heavy training over the previous 3 days. They’ve done 3 back-to-back double training days. A really high load. Despite that, they’ve come to the game today with really high energy and commitment. Everyone got really significant minutes, so it was great from a physical perspective too.”
Is it nice to see that they’re quickly putting into action everything you’ve been teaching them on the trip?
“Yeah, it’s brilliant. Both as a team and as individuals, they’re showing that they’re listening and learning, and because we’ve got them 24/7, they’re learning much quicker, and that’s resulting in a performance like the one you saw this evening.”
What did you think of the opposition side today?
“Well we watched the Wolves game just before ours, and they played their U19’s, while we played their U17’s, and their style of play was very similar, so we knew what to expect straight away. They had a few talented players – obviously some of their players looked slightly younger, but again we came up against a side that played two separate teams over the two halves, which is always a really tough workout for our lads, but it’s shown that it’s really improved us today.
Is there anyone that stood out for Rochdale today?
“I’d say one of the best two performers today was Japhet Mata, who played as a wide forward, and was a constant threat in behind, receiving the ball and driving at full-backs. He got a goal, and could have had a couple more if he’d taken a few chances, but he was always a threat.
“The other one would be first-year centre-back Declan Evans. He’s really come on whilst we’ve been on this trip. He’s learning very quickly, and he put in a commanding performance. I have to say though, it’s difficult to pick a couple out of the whole team. I could’ve mentioned 11 names. Some people are making massive strides and you can see the chemistry of the team is building and building, and that’s resulting in good individual performances.”
“Also, it was great that Wolves [who are staying in the same hotel as us] loaned us a goalkeeper for a day. His name is Reece Bills, and he put in a great performance with us. He’s only trained with us once and he was excellent. I can’t fault him, I must thank him for giving us that opportunity today.”