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Player Reviews 2021/22 - Midfielders
Sunday, 15th May 2022 15:00 by Chaff

We continue our player reviews for this past season with the midfielders. * Disclaimer - This is just the opinion of two Dale fans, stupid enough to trek up and down the country spending more money than they earn watching Rochdale.

Stephen Dooley

Chaff — 6/10

AtThePeake — 6/10

Chaff — Has there ever been a player who has split opinion so much as Stephen Dooley? I’m not sure there has you know. We even went off on a tangent on the podcast recently and spent most of it debating what Dooley offers to the side. I don’t think he’s had a bad season, but I don’t think he’s fully deserving of being offered a new deal either. He’s not a good defensive midfielder, he doesn’t contribute goal involvement, certainly doesn’t score them. As Dean’s said below, he keeps the ball ticking over, playing simple passes smack bang in the centre of the pitch. My argument is that surely most midfielders can do that and offer more and therefore we can get more value for money than what Dooley offers us. He’s not going to change a game coming off the bench either. He’s gone from being a 4/10 midfielder in League One to a 6/10 in League Two and absolutely nothing more.

AtThePeake - Stephen Dooley hasn't done much wrong this season. He keeps the ball well and has been reliable in keeping possession ticking over in central midfield. The issue for me, is that in a two-man midfield, keeping possession ticking over simply isn't enough. He has failed to score in 40 appearances in all competitions, with only four assists to his name, and he's not exactly a combative ball-winner in the centre of the park either. If he could add that to his game or find a way to be more effective in helping the forward line, he would've had a great season but as it is, he's been an average player doing average things in an average team. For me, we can do better, but Stockdale is the third manager we've had to disagree with that and what do I know?

James Ball

Chaff — 7/10

AtThePeake 7/10

Chaff — When he signed, I knew very little about him, but I think he’s made a big impact in this back half of the season. Very versatile, has played midfield, wide, centre half and done well wherever he has played but it seems to me that to get the best out of him, he should be utilised in a similar fashion to Matty Lund. He can be that midfielder that arrives late and chips in goals while also being a physical presence in the middle of the park. Don’t think he’s a player anyone would want to play against. Expecting even more from him next season as well.

AtThePeake - Although we only got to see 11 appearances from Ball before injury cut his season short, there was enough on display to make you feel that he could be a really positive addition to this squad. Although he was forced to play in a handful of different positions due to the injury problems that we were suffering elsewhere, Ball looked capable in all of them and although again not the most technical player, he made up for that with a grit and determination that we have missed without him in the team. Chipped in with a few very well-taken goals too and could be a pivotal player for us next season, although that depends on what role he will be expected to play.

George Broadbent

Chaff — 3/10

AtThePeake — 3/10

Chaff — Was excited by Stockdale’s comments when he signed as he described him as an exciting box-to-box midfielder, and he just hasn’t been. I’m not sure what he does offer in all honesty. He’s not added goals (one, against Swindon) and he’s not added assists or been someone who can win the ball back. He’s not even kept possession ticking over like Dooley does. Yes, injuries haven’t helped but he’s been the most underwhelming loan player we’ve had for some time, I think. Unsure as to why his loan was extended in January and wouldn’t want to see him back any time soon unfortunately.

AtThePeake - I'm not really sure what George Broadbent was supposed to offer us this season. From Stockdale's comments, I thought we'd signed an exciting box-to-box midfielder but in reality, the majority of League Two games have passed him by this season and as a loanee from a Championship club, you'd have hoped for a lot more quality on the ball. His passing and dribbling have been below-par, he doesn't seem to be the most energetic or committed player and he hasn't been able to be the defensive shield we've needed in order to try different formations out. Basically, he's been a complete waste of a loan this term.

Liam Kelly

Chaff — 6/10

AtThePeake — 5/10

Chaff — You can tell a mile off that Kelly is a wonderful player and has bags of ability but it’s fair to say he’s been hot and cold at times this season. He’s still contributed goals but there have been games where pretty much every pass has gone astray, and he’s looked horrendous but others where he’s really controlled the game. If he can push on and be more consistent next season then we’ve got a hell of a player, and someone we can build the team around but, if he can’t then he’ll be a passenger.

AtThePeake - Probably one of the most talented players in the squad, Kelly gets a five for me for performing way below his actual capabilities. When we've seen glimpses of what he can do, particularly in the early weeks following his signing, we've seen a player who could be a creative lynchpin for this team. However, what we've seen more of as the season has progressed has been a player lackadaisical in possession and easily frustrated. When things aren't going his way, he seems to be unable to do the simple things well and play his way back into the game. If he can find confidence and form, he can be an excellent player, but he needs to improve on those simple things in order to allow the more exciting side of his game to flourish.

Conor Grant

Chaff — 6/10

AtThePeake — 7/10

Chaff — I think if you ask Dale fans who they were most excited about going into the season just gone, a majority would have said Conor Grant, I know I would have. We really saw a player who was technically pleasing on the eye at the back end of last season, and I thought he could, and would, take League Two by storm this season and I don’t think that’s quite been the case, not in the first half of season anyway. He was in and out of the side and used sparingly before January but the second half of the season, he has really come to life again. I think he has a habit of drifting in and out of games and needs to work harder off the ball but his ability on the ball is not in question. Has a hint of Paddy McCourt about him in the way he runs with the ball and has started delivering an end product now as well and once again, I can’t wait to see how he does next season. Potentially our next big sale if he can keep up the form he’s shown recently.

AtThePeake - I'm willing to give Conor Grant the benefit of the doubt and push him into a 7 from the 6/7 border as I feel his lack of effectiveness in the earlier months of the season were more down to him being mis-used that any lack of ability or effort. When playing in a more suitable role in the latter stages of the season, I think his ball-carrying ability and vision have been more evident and that's been exciting to see, particularly in the home wins over Carlisle and Walsall which were both vitally important victories in which he played a key role. Probably our next sellable asset, but hopefully we see him thriving at Dale for a little while longer before that happens.

Photo: Action Images

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