Continuing on from our look at the League One clubs we face this season, here’s Rochdale to Wigan
Part One, featuring Accrington, AFC Wimbledon, Blackpool, Bristol Rovers, Burton and Charlton can be found here.
Part Two, featuring Crewe, Doncaster, Fleetwood, Gillingham Hull and Ipswich, can be found here.
Part Three, featuring MK Dons, Northampton, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth and Portsmouth can be found here
Av Attendance 2019/20: 3632
Manager: Brian Barry-Murphy
Preferred Formation 2019/20: 4-4-2
Last game v City: Rochdale 1-1 Imps – 17th September 2019
Summer Ins: Alex Newby – Chorley, Gavin Bazuna, Yeboah Amankwa – both Manchester City (Loan)
Summer Outs: Jordan Williams – Blackpool, Josh Lillis, Ryan McLaughlin, MJ Williams, Calvin Andrew, Callum Camps, Aaron Wilbraham, Matty Gillam, Ian Henderson (all released)
I don’t want to be patronising when discussing Rochdale. I admire what they have done in this division, consistently surviving with limited means and smaller crowds. Eventually, there has to be some movement though and I think this could be the season. Like Accrington, Rochdale are a small club that relies heavily on ticket income and guile in the transfer market. That hasn’t been possible this summer and they’ve lost players from both ends of the spectrum; Callum Camps was a youngster on the up, whilst Ian Henderson was a veteran with plenty still to offer, as was Aaron Wilbraham. Indeed, between them, those three players bagged 24 of their 39 league goals.
Ollie Rathbone is linked with an exit too and whilst they’re unbeaten in two at the start of the season, I’m not sure there’s much to sing about at Spotland. I do like Eoghan O’Connell and former Chorley man Alex Newby is off the mark after grabbing a winner against Morecambe in midweek, but I suspect it could be a long, hard season for Dale.
Av Attendance 2019/20: 6059
Manager: Sam Ricketts
Preferred Formation 2019/20: 3-5-2
Last game v City: Shrewsbury 1-1 Imps – 11th Jan 2020
Summer Ins: Rekeil Pyke – Huddersfield, Scott High – Huddersfield, Josh Daniels – Glenavon, Marlon Fossey – Fulham (loan), Matija Sarkic – Wolves (loan)
Summer Outs: Josh Laurent – Reading, Joe Murphy – Tranmere, Omar Beckles – Crewe, Romain Vincelot, Joe Murphy, Lifumpa Mwandwe, Kian Taylor (all released)
Shrewsbury, or as I think of them, ‘Stagnant Shrewsbury’, are a victim of Covid and the salary cap this season, having been forced to retain much of their squad from last season. That means that despite a few new faces, there is a familiar feel to their approach and their personnel, and it didn’t exactly work for them last time out.
Sam Ricketts had a full season or so to show some signs of progress, but I’m not sure fans have really seen that of late. They still rely on Udoh or Cummings for goals, they’ll still likely be very defensive and set up not to get beat, rather than to win. It might be enough to keep them above water, but if they continue to just consolidate, they will eventually fall behind. The best their fans can really hope for is survival and a further rebuild next summer when they are freed of more of their existing commitments.