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Full match preview - Wycombe v Dale
Full match preview - Wycombe v Dale
Friday, 11th Jan 2008 13:30

Right, we've gone all serious in our latest match preview as we look forward to Wycombe by looking at events of the day. Well for most of the preview anyway.

And they say a week is a long time in politics……


Last Friday, we were on the crest of a wave, the Revolution was in full swing and the Transfer Window represented a chance for us to go out and make the odd tweak here and there to take us to that next level.


And one week on, we’ve lost at home to Lincoln, we’re having to fight off bids for our leading players and the financial plight of the club seems to be a major focus. There has been without doubt one major wobble amongst the club support in recent days.


But why? Well we lost to Lincoln, a game that on paper we should be looking at as a nailed on three points. If we can beat promotion chasing Darlington at home, surely we can beat relegation chasing Lincoln.


Well it was a game that could have gone either way. It turned on the decision of a linesman and the Imps took full advantage as you’d expect any side to do. It was a poles away from being “WORST PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON!!!!!” stuff, and one that we could easily have sneaked ourselves and spent the rest of the week patting ourselves on the back for grinding out results when we’re not at our best.


The bid(s) for Glenn Murray has also caused a stir. Quite a major one too, and it’s almost been looked upon that any decision to sell or keep Glenn Murray will be the defining moment of the season.


The whole bid and surrounding furore has brought the whole future of the club into debate, and it’s hard to disagree with anything that has been wrote on the subject over these past few days.


What is true is that we are a selling club. Or at least we are when we have players who are worth selling, which undoubtedly do have at the moment. But the fact remains is that every club in the world is a selling club. Even United sold Beckham because the price was right, so there’s no reason at all why we in our little corner of Lancashire should be any different.


The toughest thing is establishing a price for Glenn Murray. Certainly as a club, we are holding all the aces. We have a youngish striker, who is currently in form and has scored more goals than anyone else at this level in the past twelve months – all goals of which are from open play.


He’s contracted beyond the end of this season, so we’ve not got a Jones, Lambert and Holt scenario where we’re worried about losing him on a free transfer if we don’t sell now. He’s been treated well by the club and looked after magnificently by the management duo during a recent dip in form.


But we are a club who will always need to sell to survive. There hasn’t been a single large cash injection since Rickie Lambert disappeared to Bristol eighteen months ago, and I don’t think it’s any secret that home attendances haven’t been at a level that the club would have been hoping for when they set the budgets for Keith Hill last Summer.

But any decision to sell Murray will attract criticism if it is viewed as being a financial decision. The failure to take advantage of the Centenary has been covered many, many times, but you know full well that people will be asking if we are having to sell our best players to make up for these missed opportunities.


Personally speaking, I have no issue with our club selling any of our players as long as we get the best deal possible and that the money received is juggled sufficiently to take the club further forward.


An excellent point was made on the messageboard – we sell Grant Holt, we get Chris Dagnall. We sell Rickie Lambert, we sign Glenn Murray. It’s a circle that clubs like ourselves have to follow.


Of course, you could equally claim that we sell Grant Holt, we sign Iyesden Christie, we sell Rickie Lambert, we sign Moriko Sako. Either way, we cashed in rightly or wrongly, and it paid the bills for another year with enough shelled back out to ensure that we still to this day have an excellent strikeforce at the club that we can continue the cycle with.


So what would be a fair price for a player like Murray? Do we use the benchmarks of Lambert and Holt, or do we look for recent prices for players of a similar / lesser quality in our division? Certainly, the only footballer called Hatch worth £150,000 was a penalty saving American goalkeeper some sixty years ago, and if we believe the Casper InOutInOutInOuters from down the road that the penalty king is worth £400,000 (no they do, I’m not making it up), then you’d be tempted to stick a few more zeroes on the end of Murray’s value and disappear into the Vegas sunset.


The reality is a fee similar to what we received for Lambert, it’ll keep the vampires from the door, with a few pennies chucked the way of Hill and Flickers to allow them to continue their magic.


But above all, fans must certainly be understood for seeing this month as a major turning point for the season. We’ve lived through the injury crisis and just when things are coming together, there is uncertainty. Dale fans don’t like uncertainty. We like things the way we’ve always liked it.


We don’t like it when our matchday pies change supplier, we don’t like it when kicks offs are 7:30pm instead of 7:45pm, we don’t like the thought of breaking with 100 crap years of tradition when it comes to our kits. God help us if we ever achieved the P word. So the thought of the rest of the season being up in the air is enough to give any Dale fan a wobble.


And it’s a wobble which could continue for a while yet. The transfer window is only going to further speculation for the rest of the month, and you can fully understand why managers like Hilly can’t wait till February comes around.


Events on the pitch could add to the wobble. We’ve got a tough run of games coming up over the next few weeks, starting with this weekend’s trip to Wycombe. It’s never going to be easy heading to a side who recorded a 4-0 away win during the week.


But you know? We talked about almost exactly the same things last year. I remember looking at tough matches such as Wycombe away, Walsall away, Stockport away and hoping that we might be able to hold out and sneak a draw, only to come away either victorious or disappointed to have just picked up a draw. We know by now never to write this Dale side off.


We’ve not made it five months unbeaten on our travels through good fortune, and its certainly no coincidence that our best performances and results have been on our travels. Do Wycombe present a bigger challenge than we had when we went to Rotherham or when we were trailed with just ten men at Accrington?


But back to more important matters, for me the biggest issue of the week has been Keith Hill’s use of the phrase “shape shifting”. Now call me old fashioned, but I’ve been brought up on managers using the sort of phrases that only football managers use. I don’t want my Rochdale manager to be using stuff that gets brought out by American management motivational gurus.


How long will it be before we have to endure Keith Hill explaining away another victory by saying “Well me and number two were brainstorming some ideas about how we can radicalize the output in the second block of time in bid to help us achieve our common objective. We thought outside the box, and not only opted for a change in human resources, we restructured our whole organisation.” Errrr….. so you and Flicker decided to chuck another striker on in the second half?


Look Keith, you and Flicker are from Bolton. You’re as Lancastrian as Albert and the Lion, hot pots, Fred Dibnah, Jack Simmons, the Weatherfield cobbles and day trips to Blackpool. The only shape shifting we’ve ever been interested in at Spotland is whether the likes of Iyesden Christie, Mark Leonard and Ian Thompstone have managed to get a pound or two nearer to optimal fitness.


Leave the yankee stuff to the likes of Gervais et co. Your bad!

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