“This season has been a huge disappointment. He’s spent a much improved budget on a patchwork squad that doesn’t have the required qualities to do well in this division”
The match preview Q&A series continues, as @9men discusses ‘The Daggers’ of Dagenham and Redbridge:
1 – Hi there, so Peter Taylor has been sacked as manager this week, was it the right decision?
Hello! In my opinion yes, it was absolutely the right decision and was probably quite a few weeks overdue. Last season, he achieved the main aim which was to keep us in the division on a low initial budget. However, this season has been a huge disappointment. He’s spent a much improved budget on a patchwork squad that doesn’t have the required qualities to do well in this division. We’ve been very unlucky with injuries, but that doesn’t excuse the squad we started the season with.
2 – What do think of the appointment of McMahon as manager?
I’m very excited by the new appointment! He ticks a lot of boxes, he’s young but still has experience of management at this level, he guided Ebbsfleet into the Conference and then into the play-offs. He’s already spent 3 years at our club as an academy coach and has a record of bringing players through. Over the years he actually took a few players the Daggers had cast off and managed to get them playing, so I hope this bodes well for his ability to unlock the potential of players who have underperformed. The only slight concern would be the rather large wage bill Ebbsfleet racked up in the process of their success but I’m sure he can work within the budget we’ll give him.
3 – What’s been going wrong on the pitch in recent times?
We are goal-shy and defensive, as shown by our away record of 9 goals for, 18 against, in 15 games. At home we are marginally better, but concede a worrying number of goals from corners. The main problem though is a lack of goals – and it isn’t just the forwards to blame, our delivery from wide is generally very poor, and we don’t have any creative central players. Since our main creative player, Angelo Balanta, got injured, we have really struggled and have just 1 win in the last 12.
4 – Any highlights to report from the season so far?
There is only really one – the 6-1 demolition of Aldershot at our place a few weeks ago. It was very unexpected, standing as that sole win in the last 12. Our directors plus many other minority shareholders were over from America, the clubhouse extension and new club shop had been opened, we’d signed 2 new players – the energy around the place was really positive, and the team responded with a superb display.
5 – Who are your key players and why?
At the moment, it has to be Manny Onariase and Elliot Justham. Both defensive, the pressure is often on the pair of them to continually deny waves of opposition attacks, in the knowledge that conceding one goal means we won’t win the game.
Manny is a centre back, and has a much-coveted combination of size and pace. He’s been one of the best defenders in the division since we signed him October 2018.
In goal, Elliot Justham is our reigning player of the season and is on-course to retain that award. Earlier in the season when we managed to pick up a few wins, he was often the reason for that with some brilliant goalkeeping displays. It’s been great to see the improvement he has made over the last 3 years and long may it continue.
6 – What’s the Chigwell Construction Stadium like for those who haven’t visited before?
The away fans are housed in the best stand in the ground, the all-seater west stand. There’s plenty of parking in the surrounding streets, those behind the away-end (turnings off Wantz Road) often being the best bet. It’s an old ground with a real football feel, but with some modern upgrades thrown in – I’m obviously biased but I love the place!
7 – Where’s best for the Yellow Army to grab pre-match food and drinks?
Anybody arriving by tube will pass the Pipe Major pub on the walk down to the ground, which is adequate. Alternatively, our clubhouse at the ground normally allows away fans and is a good place for a pre-match pint. There is plenty of space and it doesn’t normally take more than a minute or two to get served, the beer can be quite variable though! In terms of food, there is a chippy between the station and the ground, or for some local cuisine try Brook Pie & Mash which is about 5 minutes walk past the ground.
8 – Who are your owners and what plans do they have for the future of the club?
An American consortium own 74% of the club, with the majority of them being owned by Peter Freund. They took over in September 2018, when the club had overstretched itself trying to win promotion, going against our usual sensible budgeting. The consortium own several sports teams in America, including a minority stake in the New York Yankees. They have recruited Tim Howard to help with the football knowledge, and seem really genuine and enthusiastic. They’ve spent money on the ground to make it more appealing, including new seats, the new club shop and clubhouse cladding, and the scoreboard. On the pitch, they’ve given the management a pretty good budget without going crazy, and allowed us to make further signings when form started to slip – unfortunately those players got injured too! Their stated goal is to establish us as a Football League club again, and their next managerial appointment will be a huge factor in whether they can achieve it.
9 – Which opposition teams/players have impressed you most this season?
I’ve seen a lot of football in my nearly-24 years as a Dagger and I can’t remember a worse Conference division in all that time. We are a poor side, yet nobody has really giving us a hiding so far. Bromley put 3 past us last week and are near the top, but we had 2 golden chances to take the lead and they didn’t threaten too much until the last ten minutes. Barrow came down to our place and did a very professional job – they were very solid and quite cautious, cruising to a 2-0 win in the end. They are probably about the best I’ve seen, but still not a patch on many former champions.
10 – And finally, what’s your match prediction for Saturday afternoon?
It seems you are as leaky as we are goal-shy – so something’s got to change! I’m really hoping we can squeak a 2-1 win.
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