Stephen Jenkins Gives Us His Thoughts.
As the season edges ever closer Vital Rochdale begins the build up to tomorrow’s game against Grimsby. Here we ask Grimsby fan Stephen Jenkins his hopes and expectations for the season ahead.
VR: So then, it all kicks off on Saturday, who do you see as the favourites for Promotion and Relegation & how do you think Grimsby & Rochdale will do?
SJ: Shrewsbury have bought very well, Grant Holt seems a very good snatch from Forest, and have a manager with a decent reputation in Paul Simpson and I expect them to get promoted. Lincoln are alike, good solid signings and have now sorted out the back 5 which caused most problems all season. Then there is always Bradford who are most fancied by bookies, but I dont see it myself.
The three teams with points deductions will struggle. I can see Bournemouth and Rotherham putting up a decent battle and probably just avoiding relegation. Luton are out of it and will probably take last spot. Another team I expect to struggle is Aldershot, which bucks the trend of newly promted sides doing well but I really dont see much quality in the team.
As for Grimsby, I can only see another season of mid table nothingness, Robbie Stockdale seems a good signing but I was wanting around 10 new players, we didnt even manage half that amount, so dont expect us to do much this season.
As for Rochdale, I am pleased they did well last season and I can see them in the play offs this year too as a good proportion of the team has been kept.
VR: Former Dale Manager Alan Buckley is having yet another spell at your gaff. How do you think he’s doing?
SJ: He is the greatest Manager the club has ever had and one of the greatest lower league managers in the past 20 or so years but he is living off his history at the minute. Its like having an old dog, he’s not as good as he used to be, he stays in bed longer, doesn’t do many tricks and his bones start creaking but you just can’t bear to put him to sleep. That is what the feeling is with Buckley at the minute. Even though he has managed over 1200 games, some think it means he doesn’t make mistakes and dont have it in them to criticise him. But a growing number of fans are becoming fed up with his 1 dimensional, 1 plan, straight forward passing football and lack of quality in the squad. It doesnt help that the club is in its WORST EVER SPELL it its history, we had never been in the bottom division for 5 straight seens…well we have now….and we hate it!
VR: You’ve made a few signings this pre-season, take us through them and tell us how you think they’ll fair.
Robbie Stockdale – New right back at last, John McDermott retired the season before last and we went a whole season without a right back, honestly, so he is already an improvement. He has a good pedigree and his looked solid in the 2 games I have seen him in so far, he may not play on Saturday due to injury
Chirs Hope – Big brickhouse centre back to bully centre forwards – slow as you would expect with his girth – but has fared OK so far and would expect him to be a fixture in our team
Matt Heywood – again a big bulky no nonsence centre back and again as slow as a snail up hill but makes up for it in the amount of headers he was won so far in pre season!! Has been made captain, probably as he seems a born leader, I have high hopes for this guy
Simon Heslop – hardly know anything about him, have heard good things and if he is as creative as people say, then he may play a very important role in the midfield this year
VR: Obviously you’ll be aware we’ve signed Ciaran Toner off you guys. How do you think he’ll do for us? And do you have any decent songs for him cos we’re struggling…
SJ: Toner is a mixed bag, he can be a quality player with a sweet left foot, he likes playing in middle compared to left wing. Some games he will be on fire and will take on the best of defences but other times he just doesn’t really care. For example, when his contract was running out last season he was unsure whether he would get a new one, so the last few months of the season he played out of his skin and finished top scorer and ended up with a new contract. Just months down the line he did not look interested, played quite poorly, picked up a few injuries and looked overweight. Basically if he is motivated the right way, you could have a decent player on your hands.
As for songs, he was never really a crowd favourite and I never heard anyone sing his name so I cant help you on that I’m afraid.
VR: Turning our attention to Saturday then, what’s your prediction for the game?
SJ: Our pre season has hardly been great, 1 win over Gainsborough and another over Lincoln reserves but then again we are always bad in pre season, a 1-1 draw would suit me fine.
VR: We’re being put in the Harrington Corner this season for a change, what are the facilities like in there?
SJ: Its still the same stand away fans are always in, you have just been moved to the far corner near our main stand in order to save stewarding costs, but this will leave a season of empty red seats behind the goal. Facilities are basic at best as you would expect at a 100 year old plus stadium. There is, however, the lower league standard massively over priced kiosk selling a pathetic excuse for a cup of tea, incase you’re interested!
VR: Finally, for all the travelling Daley’s where’s the best place for a pre-match pint?
SJ: Ermm………think the usual leaking boot has closed down so I am not sure really!!! There are plenty of pubs a 30 mins walk away down seafront but whatever you do DON’T go in the Imp, especially with your Rochdale shirt on…unless you want you teeth down your throat!
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