Saturday’s game against Charlton Athletic marks this first of four consecutive home games for Dale, and Manager Keith Hill is hopeful this run of fixtures can lead to a turnaround in home form with the support of the fans.
“It would be nice. I think some of the performances at home have been [better than the points suggest],” said Hill in his pre-match interview.
“I hope the players turn up with their nerve, because I don’t think it’s twitchy-bum time. There can be a little bit of psychological pressure on the players to play at home, knowing that we’ve not got a good home record but I hope the fans get behind the players and stick with them, regardless of whether there are mistakes, because you don’t want a toxic home environment.
“When we were rock bottom last season and 12 points adrift last season, I think we all [including the supporters] got comfortable in that position. It created a no pressure environment, so turn up, enjoy yourself, enjoy the game and support the players, because we were able to achieve and retain our League One status because of a no pressure situation playing at home.
“There were games where everyone felt disappointment – Bradford, Portsmouth and Oldham for example, but generally everybody stuck with us until that final game of the season, and when we beat Charlton, it was like we had sealed promotion. It was a great feeling and it was journey that everyone inside the stadium had been on – the supporters, the players, the Board of Directors, the staff, and I think it was just rewards for us all sticking together.”
It has been almost six months since dramatic the last day of the season game against the Addicks, when Joe Thompson’s goal helped secure Dale’s League One status.
“We’re looking forward to this weekend’s fixture. The last time we met Charlton was a magnificent occasion for us – it retained our League One status and that’s what we’re fighting for again. 15 league games into this season and we’re in the deep end treading water, but it’s something you have to do as a manager, as a player and as a team when you’re not performing on all cylinders. We have to improve consistency in performances individually and cut out the mistakes.
“But there’s more to come I think. I do believe there’s more to come. I look at the layering system and what we’re trying to achieve and I’m pretty pleased with where we’re sat. But I expect more and I am expecting more from this group of players.
“I believe we performed really well against Doncaster in our last home game with respect to having the ball and we were improved without the ball against Bradford, so I’m hoping for a combination of the two.”
And Hill says he will be a pick a side that he feels is best to take on the opposition.
“There are players off colour, so I have to try and pick the side that gives us the best opportunity to get points against Charlton from the players I believe who are currently on form – training ground form and matchday form. So, I’ll select a side that I feel best represents me and represents the football club’s values, and if we do that, then I’ll be able to sleep on Saturday night regardless of the result.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.