Brian Barry-Murphy reflects on Dale’s 0-0 draw with Oxford United at the Crown Oil Arena…
“The conditions were really, really difficult, which was the same for both teams. The type of football we wanted to play was difficult to enforce on the pitch in the first half.
“But the core elements of what the lads wanted to achieve were there. There was amazing commitment to defend the goal and I thought our courage to attack was very good, and on another day we could have had a couple of goals.
“Our resilience at defending set-pieces again was exceptional, against a team that are known to be very, very potent at attacking corners.
“I’ve reminded the players that it’s a big step forward for us and it’s something that we can really build on.”
And although BBM was pleased with the clean sheet, he was keen to take away the pressure of securing one from the players.
“The players have become obsessed with wanting to keep a clean sheet because it hasn’t happened in so long. But I haven’t changed my views in two or three days – I’ve tried to take that [obsession] away from the players and all I’ve asked them to do is defend as well as they can for as long as they can, and that leads to the clean sheet. I don’t really think we looked like conceding a goal. In a lot of ways, we were a lot more controlled tonight than Saturday in our defensive work, so if we can add attacking flair to that as we progress, then we’ll win games.”
Ryan McLaughlin was forced off in the 22nd minute after taking what looked like a knock to the head and was replaced by Jimmy Keohane, who made his Dale debut.
“Ryan took a bang and he didn’t feel himself,” said BBM.
“The Doctor advised us to take him off, so there was nothing we could do. Added to the loss of Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who missed the game through injury, it was quite a tough couple of days losing those two players who were so good on Saturday.
“But real credit to the rest of the squad. Jimmy Keohane came on and did exceptionally well for the team and didn’t let them down in any way, shape or form – he was excellent.
“Jimmy McNulty wasn’t fully fit but he did great again for the lads for 90 minutes. There was a lot of commitment shown. Lads were desperate to play and help each other, so that was really pleasing.”
And BBM admits that he’s had to keep himself in check to make sure that he doesn’t overload the players with too much new information as he gets to grips with his role.
“In the first couple of days, probably partly due to my lack of experience of the job, I had all these things going round in my head I had to keep myself in check.
“I felt myself having to reign it and not get too carried away with giving the players loads of different instructions. The core elements of the way we want to play are still the same, with slightly different things, but we all want to play attacking football and play on the front foot, so to allow the players to do that, you can’t overburden them with tactical instructions. There has to be an element of freedom, so I’ve been holding myself back a bit because I think that’s really important.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.