Pre-Rochdale Thoughts

Wednesday have played two games so far this season, one in the cup and one in the league, and while the former didn’t go as planned performance-wise, we looked a lot better against Cardiff. Today we face Rochdale, and I think it’s essential we build on the winning mentality.

With the game taking place three days after our successful trip to Wales, there will more than likely be changes to the starting eleven. It’s going to be a long season, with games coming thick and fast, so rotation is necessary to keep everyone fit and to stave off fatigue and injuries. However, going out and winning tonight will be another boost, and it would make it three wins from three heading into a tricky fixture against Watford at the weekend.

Winning, in many ways, becomes a habit. And, when you start racking up victories and good performances, you’re going to be able to recreate it more often as you move through the fixture programme. We won’t win every game, and we won’t turn in excellent performances every week. But, ideally, these occasions become blips which we bounce back from quickly, rather than ruts we get stuck in for a longer period. And, I think if you’re a team with a winning mentality, it will be easier to do just that.

We all fancy ourselves as football managers, and if I were to put myself in Garry Monk’s shoes ahead of tonight’s fixture, I’d want to play the strongest team possible. But, I’d take into account the fitness of the players and their risk of injury. I doubt there is a need for us to change the side completely, and you could make a case for several of those who started at the weekend making the eleven against Rochdale.

For example, we could bring Joe Wildsmith in for Cameron Dawson, and Liam Palmer and Julian Borner into central defensive positions. But, if Dawson and the three centre backs are good to go, does it make sense to allow them to continue building on their understanding, and the clean sheet they earned in Cardiff? Joost van Aken came into the side for our Championship opener, but after not playing regularly in English football since 2017, is this an opportunity for him to get more game time under his belt?

At the top of the pitch, Jordan Rhodes got on the scoresheet in Wales, and he put in a shift, which hasn’t gone unnoticed. He came off after sixty-six minutes, so would it make sense for him to start again, if he’s ready physically, to give him the opportunity of building on Saturday? If he were to notch against Rochdale and make it consecutive games of hitting the back of the net, it would do him a world of good if he gets the nod when we’re back in league action at the weekend.

We will undoubtedly make changes to the starting eleven tonight. And, you would think we can do this and still have enough to beat Rochdale. But, I’d like to see us play the strongest team we have available, fitness and fatigue considered, so we can build on the winning mentality and give ourselves another confidence boost.

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