Manager Keith Hill has been reflecting on Tuesday night’s defeat to league leaders Wigan Athletic, as well as looking ahead to Saturday’s League One fixture against Peterborough United, in his latest interview…
“We wanted to win the game against Wigan and the first half was relatively easy, but again, minor mistakes – at the corner kick and the way that we conceded the first goal - was atrocious,” said Hill.
“It undermined what would have been a decent first half going into the second half. We put players on to try and change the game and it made us look a little bit more vulnerable in the second half. You’ve got to be careful what you wish for – you’ve got to be solid, you’ve got to make sure that we stop the opponents, and the other night we didn’t.
“It was a difficult game and it’s a mountain playing against Wigan. You’ve got to be at your very, very best, and there were times in the game when we were, but there also times when we were at our worst.
“When we conceded the three goals in the second half, it could have gone horrifically wrong. It surprises me, because during those periods where you’re hurt and you’ve been harmed, you’ve got to show more discipline and you’ve got to show more determination. You’ve still got to be able to salvage something to build on, and my fear at the time was of it going to five, six or seven, then the cost could have been a big dent on the goal difference. We’re going to lose game and I don’t think it’s a bad thing losing to Wigan.”
Dale now have six games left to play this season and Hill wants his side to make the most of those opportunities.
“We’ve got to play relaxed – 90 percent of what you worry about doesn’t actually happen, and that has constantly been my mantra. There can be too much information, too much organisation and too much deliberating about what happens if this happens. That does my head in. Go out and play!
“There has to be a plan and there’s a framework, but over analysing? Not for me. I just want the players to relax in performance, be courageous and make good decisions.
“Who would have thought Manchester City would have been beaten three games on the trot and have conceded eight goals? It happens and that’s football life – it’s the surprise element that gets supporters on the edge of their seat. There’s no reason that we can’t get the points that we need, but we’re not going to get them by being over anxious or bringing anxiety to a group of players.
“We’ve got to make sure that we give them the opportunity to win as many points as they can. They’re responsible for that – I can’t do that and Chris Beech can’t do that – but we’ve got to make sure that we’re allowing the players that freedom and flexibility without scaring them.”
Saturday’s opponents Peterborough United, who appointed Steve Evans at the end of February following the departure of Grant McCann, sit just a point outside the play-offs, and Hill is expecting a tough test at the ABAX Stadium.
“Peterborough are always competitive. They’re a good side, they recruit well and they’ve been well managed. I’m very surprised that Grant McCann left – but that’s football for you and that’s for a different day, but they’ve responded well under Steve [Evans], who was here the other night watching us. It’s going to be a difficult game but it’s one we’re looking forward to - it’s another opportunity for us.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.