Manager Keith Hill spoke to Dale PlayerHD ahead of Saturday’s derby day match v Bury at the Crown Oil Arena…
Rochdale head into the game as one of the in-form teams in the country, after winning six games consecutive matches.
“It’s progress and at the minute, it’s what we’re doing well at," said Hill.
“We work hard on stabilising the team’s mentality and the team structure, whether we’re winning losing or drawing.
“Team spirit is built on victories and it can get stronger and stronger. The lads support each other and they did support each other in the first seven games of the season, which were difficult times for the players, but we’ve grown in strength both physically and mentally.
“We’ve grown as a team and we’ll continue to grow. As a manager/ management team, we never put the baton down or pass it on, because we’re always striving for improvement. Regardless of the opposition, because it’s a 46 game season, we will never get too low or too high, because it’s about progress. It’s about continually working on creating good habits that will hopefully see us get as many points as we possibly can.
“The players are a very honest bunch and they work hard. There’s a confidence but there’s no arrogance, and if there is, then it’s the right type of arrogance which is belief, and we’re looking forward to the games that lie ahead. It’s good on the training pitch and we can’t wait for the weekend’s fixture.”
The Shakers are the visitors to the Crown Oil Arena this weekend and Hill says he’s looking forward to the derby day atmosphere.
“We love the atmosphere that these type of games bring. The atmosphere was incredible at the Bolton match at the end of last month and it’s going to be very similar on Saturday, so we’re looking forward to that aspect of the game as well.
“Flicker [Bury boss Dave Flitcroft] is always looking for a reaction, a passion, a fighting-spirit, a competitive edge and a quality [from the team he puts out] because ultimately he wants to win football matches. He’s very passionate about the game but so am I.”
Both Ian Henderson and Matty Lund are back in contention for the match. Hendo has been given the thumbs up from Dale’s medical staff to return to the action for the first time since suffering concussion at the end of last month, while Lund is back from international duty.
The pair missed last weekend’s game, adding to Hill’s ever-growing absentee list, which includes key places like Jamie Allen, Jim McNulty and Peter Vincenti.
“Barebones.com has brought us brilliant results. That’s testament to the players and the belief that we have in each other.
“We brought a squad of players together at the beginning of the season and they’re now gelling. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that I’d be without Jamie Allen, Matty Lund, Peter Vincenti and Ian Henderson, and that I would end up with the three midfield players of Callum Camps, Andy Cannon and Aaron Morley playing against Southend. Wow, it’s superb.
“Those three midfield players have all come through our academy system, which again, is not only testament to the academy, but also testament to the way that we do things and the way that we trust the players to act on our behalf. There aren’t too many other teams in League 1 doing what we do.”
The full interview is on Dale PlayerHD.