Paul Simpson’s first game in charge of the Blues on home soil is against Rochdale on Tuesday night, and Dale boss Robbie Stockdale has put together a team that’s hard to beat and which will provide a tough test for the Blues.
“They’ve got a bit of consistency about the way they play and within the group of players they have,” the United manager us. “They’ve got some good footballers in there, Robbie has done a really good job, and he obviously has a clear plan and identity.
“That’s something where we will only have ten weeks to get our own, but we’ve got to try and get it as quickly as possible so that we can compete against the likes of Rochdale.
“Hopefully the few days we’ve had together is starting to help the players to understand what we need to do to get a result.
“They are where they are in the table, but the simple fact is we’ve got to win our own games. It’s still about what we do. The only time we can affect Rochdale’s results is in our home and away fixtures against them.
“If we do it properly, we’ll be taking care of our own position. We’ve got to try to do what we can to take maximum points from these games.
“They’ve got a really effective style of play and they’ve made good signings in the January window. We know it's going to be tough, but it’s a really good game for us where we’re hoping we’re going to get some really good backing from our own supporters.
“The things I’m hearing is the supporters are going to come out in bigger numbers than they have before. I hope they all get in early and get their tickets and get into the stadium as early as they possibly can so the game doesn’t get delayed, and we can get kicked off on time. Let’s make it a really positive atmosphere inside Brunton Park again.”
On what we can expect to face, he added: “They’re probably coming in a positive frame of mind because they’ve had a good win against a good Northampton side.
“We need to get ourselves as well prepared as we can and try and put on a real battling performance, like we did at the weekend.
“At the moment I’m thinking front-foot, thinking positive. We need to win games so there’s no point in me setting up to get a 0-0 draw.
“The record over the season shows that we’re not particularly good at doing that, and I think everybody feels better when they’re on the front-foot and trying to win the game.
“It’s up to us to set them up and send them out with the mindset they’re going to win. If we don’t win we make sure we don’t lose, and that’s got to be the mentality right through to the end.
“I have to say I’ve been really impressed with Rochdale. Ball got a bang on the head so we don’t know what’ll happen, whether he’s concussed tomorrow, under the head injury protocol, whether that’s going to be applied or not we’ll have to wait and see.
“They’ve got players who can impact, the likes of Kelly, Newby, Dunn, Grant, they like to attack. I do think it’s going to be a really tough game for us, but it’s a game we’ve got to be prepared to go and roll our sleeves up, stand up to it.
“I do honestly believe if our players show the levels of ability that they’ve touched a little bit, I think we should do ok. But it’s up to the players to go out and perform and hopefully grind out a result. As we did on Saturday, just find a way to win.”
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