Rochdale style is one Hill’s not fond of

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Rochdale Observer reporter, Richard Partington, gives us the inside track on the Dale’s start to the season.

Keith Hill has recently switched systems and things are looking a lot better for Rochdale.

Matt Clarke celebrates goal at Rochdale. Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke celebrates goal at Rochdale. Picture: Joe Pepler

The manager started looking to play three at the back with footballing centre-halves and the goalkeeper very much involved.

The players have been caught out a lot doing it, though, and in the first two home games against Barnsley and Peterborough they conceded four in both games.

He has now switched back to a system which suits them better, though.

It wasn’t working beforehand. Game after game it was down to individual errors.

They were leaking goals for fun and something needed doing because they didn’t want a repeat of last season’s relegation battle.

They are not lumping it forward by any means, but he is now using two big men out wide.

Aaron Wilbraham and Calvin Andrew are out on the flanks with Henderson playing through the middle, who has been the standout player.

There are diagonal balls being played into the big men.

It’s not route one but I don’t think Hill is particularly fond of it - it does get results, though.

At home it’s been a struggle but they seem to have hit on a formula away from home, even if they did get thumped at Sunderland last weekend.

They did play reasonably well there in the first half, but it was three goals in eight minutes and the game was gone.

After reverting system, though, they did come up with a comfortable win against Gillingham at Spotland recently.

So Sunderland aside, they have hit on a bit of form and the confidence has been restored.

The players look a lot more comfortable and they are creating chances.

They are looking stronger than they were at the start of the season.

Henderson is the big threat, every day of the week, and Rochdale have to be careful the situation doesn’t arise that if he isn’t scoring the team isn’t scoring.

In fairness, Ollie Rathbone had a good start and scored four in his first six games and looks like scoring this season. They are two to look out for.

There were hopes of making the play-offs this season, but the start of the season has been a reality check.

What people don’t want is a relegation battle like last season, so a top-half finish would be a good one for the team.