Manager Brian Barry-Murphy looks ahead to Dale’s Emirates FA Cup first round tie against Stockport County at the Crown Oil Arena…
Dale have enjoyed great successes in the competition in recent years, particularly since the 2013/14 season, and BBM says he has great memories during his time as a coach/manager at the Club.
“As a player I don’t remember many major games, but definitely when I became a coach, we had the likes of Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Tottenham. Those sorts of games became a regular occurrence and we obviously saw the benefits of really trying to do our best in the competition. The rewards were enormous and it’s now something that we really look forward to.
“When I was first team coach here, I started to get a real understanding of what it takes to be involved in the big games and looking forward to them with a real sense of excitement, and sometimes a sense of nervousness, because if you get to the later rounds, the top class opposition can be very testing, but that's the exciting part of the job for us.”
Whilst the competition can be very rewarding, particularly as it progresses, BBM says the focus is fully on the weekend’s fixture only.
“From a players’ point of view, I know from experience, you’ve just got to focus on the game and do your very best, because the margins can be so fine. You can’t focus too much on outside factors like who you could face or finances. As a player, it’s purely based on performances and trying to play our very, very best, and if that’s good enough, so be it. You can’t alway control the result in these games and it’s very important that we just try and play our own way."
Saturday’s opposition currently sit second in the National League and the Boss says they’ll be a tough opponent.
“They’re a big club in this region who are on the march after a difficult few years. I think a lot of our players know their players well and will be aware from the very early stages of pre-season that Stockport were recruiting big name players on big salaries. They were the big name in the National League this year, so it’s no surprise where they are and they’ll be a tough opponent for us.
“They’ll probably see us as a great opportunity for themselves, but we’re very focused on ourselves and the form that we’re in. Our lads are in brilliant form and are improving very quickly and they do that on a weekly basis.”
Dale only found out on Wednesday evening that the Hatters would be this weekend’s opponents, but BBM says that has no real bearing on the team’s preparations.
“We’re intensely focused on our own way of doing things and our own training. That becomes very beneficial in these times of congested fixtures because you’ve got very little time to prepare for games, so we just trust that the work we've done over the last 12 or 18 months is in the lads’ minds and they have a clear understanding of the way the whole group want to play. We trust that they will be good enough to produce the type of performances that the lads have produced over the last few weeks. As I’ve said, the result will take care of itself and will be down to a whole number of factors.”
Stephen Humphrys and Paul McShane are again set to miss out through injury, but Kwadwo Baah is available after making his return from injury in the FA Youth Cup tie against Salford City during the week.
The Boss says it was great to see the young forward get minutes under his belt.
“It was vital. It was quite a bad injury and his first real serious injury. He has made rapid progress and is available for selection for Saturday, even though it might come a touch too soon for him. We're definitely hoping to re-introduce him into the squad on Tuesday night against Salford. He was one of the young players who was making noticeable strides in pre-season and that has set him back a little bit, but those set-backs are all part of a young players’ journey. It’s imperative now that he bounces back in a really positive manner. He has grown a lot and got a lot stronger while he’s been out, so hopefully we’ll see the benefits of that.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow Dale.