The Insider: New Rochdale manager has brought back enjoyment – but anything at Portsmouth would be bonus

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Richard Partington, from the Manchester Evening News, gives the lowdown on Rochdale’s season so far...

It was a bit of a surprise Keith Hill was sacked at the start of March. 

Former Rochdale player Brian Barry-Murphy is now in charge at Spotland. Picture: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Former Rochdale player Brian Barry-Murphy is now in charge at Spotland. Picture: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Even if Rochdale were going to be relegated then the majority thought the club wouldn't necessarily depart with their manager.

There was a school of thought Hill was there for the long term.

What did for him really was the change at boardroom level in the new year.

The good relationship he had with former chairman Chris Dunphy meant he had to rebuild.

The people who took over had been at the club for a few years, but he didn’t have the close relationship that he had with Dunphy.

Hill had to prove himself to the new board, who took over at the start of January. The run of form before Hill was sacked was awful.

There was a section of supporters who thought he’d had his time and run out of ideas, but it was still something of a surprise among most.

Hill had a bit of bad luck this season but some suggested maybe he lost a bit of his mojo.

When he burst onto the scene at Spotland, he very much had a no-fear approach. Detractors felt he’d adopted a more cautious approach that wasn’t as easy on the eye as it had been.

Hill was unlucky but he’s gone and Brian Barry-Murphy has come in and been very respectful towards Hill and former assistant Chris Beech.

He will say himself he's learnt most of what he knows from those two.

There haven’t been any major changes from Barry-Murphy, just more tweaking and having a new voice.

He was a presence around the training ground anyway but there’s a bit more prominence he carries now.

It’s refreshed things and brought the enjoyment back.

The win at Accrington on Tuesday was a big result, bearing in mind you wouldn't think they’ll get anything this weekend.

Rochdale can go to Fratton Park a bit more relaxed having done the business against the teams they had to pick up points against.

Anything they do get at Pompey will be a huge bonus.

In terms of who’s stood out, Ian Henderson remains the main man, scoring 14 goals so far.

Ollie Rathbone is just re-emerging and showing the form of the 2016-17 season. He's looking like his old self again.

The positives have been the very young lads Daniel Adshead and Luke Matheson.

They are two England youth internationals but Matheson is 16, while Adshead is 17 and they're not ready to play week-in, week-out in the current predicament.