Manager Keith Hill has been discussing clean sheets, team spirit and Saturday’s League One fixture v Rotherham United, in his latest interview…
Dale have now kept five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, so what’s the secret?
“It’s down to getting back to basics and just doing what you need to do to defend.
“It’s also down to attitude towards defending and I think we’ve got our attitude towards defending correct.
“There’s a little bit of luck involved as well, because some of the opponents have had opportunities, but we’ve kept clean sheets and it’s good at the minute.
“Attitude towards professionalism is very important. If I look at Sir Alex Ferguson, the first requirement of a skillset is effort and hard-work, and it’s no different whether you’re playing in the Premier League, the Championship or in League One. The application of the players at the minute is very good and there’s an ambition to making sure that we keep the ball out of the net, which is what you want as a manager.
“I’m trying to work with individuals on the concentration aspect of a matchday application, because it has got to be an everyday thing. It can just be switched on, having made mistakes in training. So I’ve asked the players to make less mistakes in training and treat training as serious as a matchday experience. And if the players continue to do what I ask of them on the training pitch, then there will be continued improvements going into games.”
The Millers who were relegated to the division from the Championship during the 2016/17 campaign are the visitors this weekend and Hill is expecting a tough test.
“The demands of League One are getting harder. The teams that have come down and the teams that have come up are spending money, and the teams that were in League One last season are spending a lot more money than we’ve spent.
“The league is getting harder. We’re not standing still but we’re not spending or developing at the same rate that other teams are in the chasing down of a chance for promotion to the Championship.
“We do it methodically and we do it our way, but the demands and the teams that we’re coming up against, as well as the spending power and player recruitment power that they’ve got is frightening in comparison to other seasons.
“We’re still very much developing another side, having had to replace players on a regular basis over the last four seasons. Whether that has been in the year we won promotion or stabilising the team in League One, we’ve lost key players every season, and that is us in a nutshell. We’ve got to make sure that we’re patient and develop another team that can be successful in League One.
“But we’re fighting, and as long as the players fight I’ll be reasonably happy, because we’ll definitely become successful. The players are showing signs of a togetherness and a team spirit. And that team spirit isn’t built by liking your team-mate, it’s built by an aggressive nature to making sure that you don’t lose games, because that don’t lose games attitude then turns into a camaraderie and then you go on to win games. What you do on the football pitch builds team spirit.”
Watch the full 20 minute interview on iFollow.