Manager Brian Barry-Murphy reflects on pre-season and looks ahead to Dale’s opening day fixture against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park...
“I can’t wait!” said BBM.
“It has been a quick summer – it seems to have gone really fast! But I think the players feel as though it has been a long summer. They’re desperate to get back playing and carry on from where we finished the season. They’re looking forward to carrying on in that manner and playing the same type of football that we did, and hopefully evolving and getting even better on a daily basis.
“There’s a feelgood factor amongst the lads because they’re all working extremely hard. The players are in great shape. We’re still in a very early stage of the season so we’re conscious of the fact that they’re building up towards, ideally, where we’d like them to be. It’s a gradual process and I’m very conscious of the fact that this is just the first game. It’s not the be all and end all of the season in terms of having to be at full tilt. The lads are insanely competitive and want to do well in the game, but we’re very conscious of the fact that it’s a building process and we want to build gradually together.”
Rochdale face a Tranmere Rovers side who have won back-to-back promotions, rising from the National League to League One. BBM knows his team will be in for a tough test at Prenton Park.
“We couldn’t have asked for a harder start. I’ve got total admiration for Micky [Mellon] and his team there. It will be a cauldron at Prenton Park, but it’s a great test for us and the way we want to play.
“I’ll be mainly looking for how we play when we’re under pressure, and there’s no better team than putting you under pressure than Tranmere. They’ve had consistent performances that have resulted in a lot of winning performances over a long period of time at home, so it’s going to be a great test for our guys.
“I’m just looking for our players to represent the Club in the same way that they did last season and be constant in the way we play. Whatever adversity we face on Saturday, we have to try and stick to what we’re about.”
On the injury front, BBM has confirmed that Aaron Wilbraham will miss the match.
“Aaron won’t be fit for Saturday. He’s had a calf strain for the last two-and-a-half weeks. “He’s almost back, but I think Saturday has come too soon for him. I’d be contradicting myself if I said we’re trying to protect the players and then rush him back for one game, so he won’t be available. That’s about it at the moment barring any last-minute hitches. The lads are in good form and they’re all keen to get to that point on Saturday where they can start the season.”
And the Boss is looking forwarding to hearing the Dale faithful getting behind the lads from the stands.
“One of the things towards the end of last season was the incredible backing from our away support. They travel in numbers to every away ground, even the ones in the South of England.
“I’m sure we’ll take a huge following. I know our players will give them something to be proud of, and, again, it will be a performance that represents what we’re about. I know they’ll get behind us and be patient in terms of the players that are going to be doing their very best.
“The first game of the season can take getting used to, and it will be an occasion where, despite me taking the pressure off the players, that they’ll want to do very well in and impress.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.