It was a difficult summer. After four and a half years of pure success (league 2 play-offs twice, first ever appearance at Wembley, promotion to league 1 after 36 years, equal highest ever league position), Keith Hill and David Flitcroft finally moved to Barnsley, taking Matt Done and Scott Wiseman with them. Craig Dawson moved to West Brom and just after this season started Chris O’Grady moved to Sheffield Wednesday. New manager Steve Eyre thus has a hell of a challenge keeping Dale’s heads above water in what would in any case have been the difficult second season at a higher level.
The first six games brought only two draws, one of which was rather fortunate. However, there are some positives. The Carling Cup has seen wins over Chesterfield and, famously, at QPR in a game that Neil Warnock apparently wanted to lose. The attacking play has been promising. Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro, Dale’s French striker, has revelled in the new responsibility of leading the line. New loan signing David Ball has started very promisingly and, in the past week, things have improved in terms of league results with a derby day 4-2 win at Bury and a 1-0 win over Scunthorpe on Tuesday night.
We are all prepared to give Steve Eyre a chance and the signs are good. Also he has some humility about him and clearly understands football. Everyone is delighted with the way we are trying to play and the upturn in results over the past week. We know Charlton are flying and anticipate a very difficult game. But who knows? If the effort and determination shown thus far are in display again, we could grind out another result.