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Easter Weekend Games Excite McNulty

6 April 2023

Jim McNulty says he's excited for the Easter weekend, with Dale playing two games over the bank holiday weekend.

Dale's interim manager has said that his side has had a positive week since their win at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

"It’s been a really good week; the players have been very responsive. Obviously, we got a great result down at Wimbledon, that we’re all really pleased about, and it’s lifted the squad," said McNulty.

"Off the back of that, it’s been really progressive, we’ve been working all week trying to get better, in the areas that we’ve identified as possible where we can do that.

"The players have been brilliant, they’ve been incredible. My first thought after the game on Saturday was how pleased I was with the players; how thankful I was with them and how they deserved all the credit on the day. I think they make or break the training week.

"I can do my best to provide the best possibilities for us in training that I think I can. But it’s all down to them, it’s all down to their drive and their ambition to take every session forward and their ambition to get better every day. I just want to try and make this a learning environment; an improvement environment and the players have been excellent in taking that on board so far this week."

Prior to Dale's cleansheet against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, they had only kept two clean sheets since the start of the new year. The 38-year-old said that he was really pleased for everyone.

"It was very pleasing, for the team, for the staff, and for all of us as a collective. I know that would have felt great for goalkeepers and defenders, I know it would. But so much work went into that from every aspect of the week's planning and every aspect of every player that was on the pitch.

"Loads of the final key moments were defended by our defenders and by the goalkeeper, they played their part massively in that clean sheet and they deserve huge plaudits for that. But there were also loads of other areas that need to be highlighted, that were key components in providing us with that basis to steal the game."


McNulty has implemented a new style of play and he says that his side are developing well and reacting well to his leadership and instructions.

"It’s grown and evolved; it seems strange saying that because it's still such a short time frame since I got asked to do the job. I can only be myself; I can only do it in my style, in my way. I can only really be authentic otherwise if I’m pretending or doing it in someone else’s way it won’t feel right and it won’t come across right to the players.

"So, it’s been done my way and yes there’s been lots of individual work, there’s been lots of small meeting work and small groups and obviously, there’s been the team stuff as well. I think the players have shown good responses to the methods I’ve tried, and we’ve tried as staff to implement in this short time window.

"Hopefully, that continues to bear fruit moving forward."

Dale face two games over the Easter weekend. First up for Dale is Walsall at the Crown Oil Arena on Good Friday, followed by a trip to Mansfield on Easter Monday. McNulty says that he's excited and is looking forward to the games.

"I’m really excited, really excited to plan and play those games and to watch the players play those games. I’m really excited to try and provide our players with the opportunity to be the best they can be and show their best skills and versions of themselves on the pitch.

"That sort of stuff really excites me, it’s stuff I enjoy. So, an Easter weekend, two games coming up, I always loved them as a player, there’s just a niche feel to them. You only kind of get that window around Christmas and Easter where the schedule really changes and it feels different, I think it’s great to have two exciting games so close together."

McNulty is looking to unify everyone as he looks to make Rochdale AFC a tough team to play. He's spoken about the importance of everyone being together as one.

"It’s key, it’s totally pivotal to any success. The football club has always had that unity during the times when we’ve done things well and the times when we’ve been riding high. So, to try and unify that spirit as much as possible again between the team, staff, youth team, and the fan base, that’s vital for a club of our size.

"That’s what makes us powerful, makes us difficult to face. In years gone by we’ve been a very difficult club to face, and people haven’t enjoyed coming to play against our team and against the spirit that our team has. And I think the fans have known that, so it's really important to me to try and do the things that I think I can control, to help us try and achieve that again."

The Dale Interim boss gave his thoughts on Walsall, saying that they'll be a tough team to beat.

"They’re a solid unit, a solid outfit. They don’t concede many goals, they know what they’re doing. They have a good manager, who’s got success at this level. They’re a well-budgeted side I think, based on their roster of players.

"There are players there that they’ve got, that other managers would welcome in their squad. They know what they’re doing ultimately. They’re going to be difficult opponents, they really are. We’ve got to do our best to try and implement our style on the game and try and take the game to the areas of the pitch that we want it to be in. We’re just working every day to try and make it the best game possible for us."


With a number of Dale players out injured, McNulty has provided an update on those unavailable.

"The injury situation is not a good one, I certainly wouldn’t call it a good one at all. It’s affecting the squad at the moment with us losing some key players.

"We’ve lost Toumani Diagouraga from the weekend, he picked up an injury in the warm-up and was unable to actually come on in the game. Rhys Bennett has had surgery and he’ll be out for the season.

"Devante Rodney is worse than we initially thought. Devante tried to come out and get going again on the grass but felt problems. He’s got a muscular tear, it’s a bit of a complicated one or more complicated than we initially thought anyway, so Devante certainly can’t join us anytime soon I don’t think.

"Aidy White is still out long-term. He was having problems after having successive concussions, which has been hindering Aidy from returning to training. We’ve had to do the right thing, which is the most important thing for Aidy. Toby Mullarkey does re-join us this weekend though. He’s re-joined the squad after completing his concussion protocol."

With Dale returning to the Crown Oil Arena after playing away from home for the last two game weeks, McNulty is looking forward to seeing the fans play their part in helping the team and has a message for them.

He said: "My message to them is that we appreciate them, that I appreciate them, and that they were amazing down at Wimbledon for us. I said it in my post-match down there, letting the fans know that the players are human just like they are too.

"They’ve felt the pain that the fans have felt. When we’re unified and we’re all as one, I know that’s when we’re going in the right direction and we’re working towards something that we can all enjoy and something that we can all have a good experience from.

"I would ask the fans just to stay with the team, and support the team as much as possible. Nobody thinks that we can stay up, everyone has written us off. I don’t think there’s anyone outside of our football club that realistically thinks that we could stay up. Us as a squad believe that as long as we focus on the next game, focus on the next training session, and focus on the next moment then who knows what could happen.

"I fully believe that we can win the next game and I know one thing for sure is that we won’t win the game without the support of our fans, we won’t. It just doesn’t happen. So, they’re crucial, they’re as crucial as any player doing a certain job out on the pitch for us. I would let them know that I appreciate the crucial role that they play and I look forward to seeing them play it this weekend."

Watch the full pre-match interview with McNulty on our official YouTube channel HERE.

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