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MANAGER: There were good things and things we need to work on

More from Paul Simpson on Saturday's home game

4 September 2022

Both United and Rochdale will look back at what was a pulsating game and feel they could have taken more than the point they shared, with the balance of power shifting almost by the minute in what was an enjoyable game to watch.

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3 September 2022

“If you can’t win a game like that, don’t lose it,” manager Paul Simpson agreed. “I’m sure as a supporter it was a fantastic game of football to watch, but I knew it was going to be tough.

“No, that looks like I’ve got a crystal ball, I fully expected it to be a tough game. I think I said this on Thursday, but I didn’t look into anything about the fact that Rochdale were bottom of the league, because I think they’ve got some really good players.

“They’re a good side. I think Jim [Bentley] is a good manager, so I expected there to be a reaction from them. We saw that, and I also don’t think we did all of the things right that we wanted to.

“In this league it’s about competing and about what happens with first and second balls. Sadly on too many of their goals we didn’t win first contact, we didn’t win second balls, but I thought the run from Rodney for their second goal was a fantastic run.

“It was a really good ball that was flicked through for him. The first goal was a little bit unfortunate, it took a deflection, and there were just too many mistakes from us that got punished.

“That’s what the really disappointing thing is, but what I would say is that I think we’ve shown tremendous character. To be two goals down and to stay on the front foot and keep going is good.

“We had a spell in the second half where we lost our way a bit, I don’t mind saying that, and we got bullied a little bit by Scott Quigley. We gave the ball away cheaply, but we got through that and got ourselves going again.

“In the end I’ve got to say that I’m delighted that we’ve taken a point, even though that isn’t what I wanted at the start of the game.”

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And it’s perhaps worth noting that it’s that type of game that we’d have got nothing out of at the same stage last season.

"We didn’t score three goals last year either, so that’s a positive to take from it,” he commented. “The big thing we have to take from this game is the character and the personality that the players showed.

“I’m quite sure a lot of our fans will have gone home disappointed that we haven’t won the game, because they look at the table and see that Rochdale are bottom, but their position doesn’t tell the whole story for them in my opinion.

“They’re better than that. Their wide players cause problems and either Quigley or Henderson are a threat when they play. We just didn’t deal with their attacking situations well enough when they scored their goals. It’s a point, we worked hard to get it, and we move on.”

The two second half Rochdale goals came from moments when the Blues were on the attack, with a quick counter proving costly on both occasions.

“As I say, we were on the front-foot and we wanted that to be the approach,” he said. “We’re at home, we want to entertain and we done ourselves with it unfortunately.

“The second goal in particular, I thought that was a great ball and a good run. The third goal we gave the ball away too cheaply with two players looking at each other wondering who was going to get it.

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“We had a great recovery, we got ourselves back in to defend, but then we allow the ball to come back into the box and we allowed Quigley to get on the turn.

“He’s been scoring goals like that for years, and we should have known and dealt with that better. We could have stopped it at source, and we made a good recovery, but then we didn’t deal with at after that.

“All three goals conceded are disappointing, but Kristian Dennis has shown again what he’s all about with his goal. We had a great delivery with Mox from set plays, and Hunts gets the goal, and there was the one with Mells getting his goal, and we could have scored from another one.

“I don’t know if their keeper made a brilliant save when Mells looked like he was going to score again, so there were good things in there. But, as we knew would be the case, there are things we need to work on.

“I’ve said this for a long time, this isn’t going to change overnight. We are not the finished article, and maybe this game is a sign of where we are. We have to keep working at it and we’ve got to try and stay calm and positive. Hopefully we’ll keep building and we’ll get better through time.”

And it was a game where the players had to dig deep to get themselves going, with them finishing strongly through the last 15 minutes of the first half.

“We caused our own problems through that first half hour, but we did keep going,” he agreed. “We kept giving the ball away and in training we talk and talk about getting six passes to try get control of the game.

“Once you get four or five passes the opposition start to chase a little bit, and we just didn’t do it enough. I think we started to calm down after maybe 25 or 30 minutes, and we were a little bit better in possession.

“We’ve been telling them all week, and we’re trying to get the message across that it’s so important to pass the ball properly instead of just lumping it on each other.

“We work on the way we pass the ball and sadly in the first half hour we didn’t get that right. We had a spell in the second half where we didn’t do it as well as we wanted to, but we were a bit more positive when we changed the shape.

“That got us going forward and we managed to get a point out of it.”

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