Manager Keith Hill was in a “relaxed” mood when he faced the media on Friday morning to look ahead to Rochdale’s League One fixture against Oxford United at the Crown Oil Arena.
After last weekend’s game at Bradford, Hill was scathing of his team’s performance, but has said that on reflection, it’s a game he has taken plenty of positives from.
“When you assess and evaluate while trawling back through the game, you calm down and you lose the emotional rawness and the anger, and you put it all into perspective.
“I watch football and I think there’s a lot of negative tactics being utilised up and down football, which is a resignation that you know you’re not going to win the game so you’ve got to try and do everything you can not to lose it. I subscribe to that to a certain degree, but I want to be a fan of my team and the way that we play football. We lost the game on Saturday, but was I fan of the way that the game was played? Yes.
“From a perverse sense of view, looking back, I really enjoyed the Bradford game. From a neutral supporters’ perspective, it was a great game. But we want to win those games and we want to part of a successful environment. There are a lot of good things going on at the football club and there are a lot of successes at the football club, but this group of players can’t shoulder the responsibilities of the club’s failings and successes over 110-years. We’ve got to be accountable and responsible for what we do right here, right now, and we’ve got to accept the pressures of the successes that we’ve had and the failings, but we’ve got to strike a mark in the sand right now.
“These players are good players. We’re in League One - we’re always trying to over-achieve and that mantra will continue. Win together, lose together – we’ve got to stick together, it’s as simple as that. There has been a lot of messages this week, but ultimately, it’s a game that we love and a game that we love playing and we will accept those challenges.”
And Hill says the squad is in positive mood going into the weekend’s match against the U’s.
“Listen, I’m ten men and I expect my team to be the same and be up and at you, with shoulders pinned back, chest out and a here we are attitude. The players have got to have a conviction to the work that they do, and they will do. We’ve recruited these players because they are talented players and we’ve had some great moments this season.
“The accountability is mine and it’s on my shoulders. I insisted that this club changed its direction, which we have done and we’re finding it hard, but we’re positive about the remainder of the season and where we’re actually at, at this moment in time. There’s a positivity about it.
“I’ve got to make sure I translate to the players the positive messages about how well we do, what a good team we are and what good players we have individually.”
Dale have lost just two league games at home all season and Hill is pleased with his side’s form at the Crown Oil Arena.
“Our home form is keeping our pulse racing. Some of the home form has been really good and so have some of the performances. We haven’t always had the results but we’ve been pretty consistent at home.
“The difference between this season and last season in comparison after 20 games is that we’ve lost the same amount of games, but we just haven’t won the proportion of games that we won last season, we’ve drawn them instead, so it’s all marginal, whether it’s at home or away, and I’m relatively relaxed.
“I’m passionately ambitious for this football club and this group of players to over achieve again and we have to over achieve.”
On the opposition, Hill commented: “They’re a good side. This is their second season back in League One and they’re an exciting team to watch. I’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
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