Great to be back, roll on next season!

Dagenham manager Daryl McMahon during Dagenham & Redbridge vs Solihull Moors, Vanarama National Leag

Dagenham manager Daryl McMahon during Dagenham & Redbridge vs Solihull Moors, Vanarama National League Football at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on 17th April 2021 - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

It was great to be back: the roar of the crowd, the shouts from the terraces and simply being among fellow Daggers.

The curtains were drawn after a rollercoaster season which the Daggers ended in 12th, with another fantastic performance which saw them draw level with Wrexham.

The Welsh side were the ultimate losers on the last day of the campaign as a draw saw them miss out on the play-offs, prompting jeering chants of ‘You’re not in the play-offs’ from us Daggers supporters.

But behind the jeers was deep frustration of another season of failing to reach the play-offs ourselves. That game should have meant something in terms of Dagenham & Redbridge’s play-off prospects, instead, we played the saboteurs on the final day – success already out of sight.

There is more frustration than dissatisfaction and disappointment this campaign, because we have played some really good stuff and come a long way as a team – finishing with real strength and positivity.

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With just one defeat in the last 10 games, winning eight, there is every reason for optimism and positivity which momentarily overrides this anger of missing out on play-offs. It’s more rueing what could’ve been, than demanding better from McMahon and his players.

We are heading in the right direction and McMahon has steered us to a new dawn of hope, making a U-turn since the Notts County fixture back in February, which left us the centre of National League ridicule.

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They may have appeared panic buys at first, but the likes of Saidou Khan and Mauro Vilhete proved pivotal in Dagenham’s upturn in form which saw us end the season with eight wins out of 10.

So, two risks that paid off there, though the question on everyone’s lips looking forwards now is - will they be retained?! I sure hope so, as the momentum and synergies have been built up and contributed to this winning streak – to lose them would be a huge step backwards.

The retained list is the big announcement, and with budgets tightening due to low income, that may be resources and money go this season – holding onto what we’ve already got.

At least, that’s what I’d do, as if we manage to retain the players that ended this season with a superb run of form – keeping that momentum – there’s a team comfortable in achieving play-offs I feel.

Then, incomings would be a bonus in my book, though I would like to see a competent, Football League-standard centre-back come into the club – maintaining the view we are yet to replace Manny Onariase.

If we are to see incomings, we’d need some outgoings, and so I feel that the likes of Mitch Brundle, Sam Deering and maybe Dean Rance – who haven’t been involved for a fair couple of months – could be moved on.

They would be tough decisions to make, but again what is the price of progression? It’s imperative that Daryl uses this summer to build a strong squad he knows will challenge, in order to keep consistency.

This will enable him to not require new players throughout the season – as was the case this year – ill-preparedness leading to inconsistency. So, it’ll be tough releasing the aforementioned players, but we need to have a strong squad with few weaknesses to challenge at the top next season.

Therefore, to free up the wages, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the likes of Clifton and McQueen also depart as they’ve not quite had the impact they’d have hoped.

Overall then, plenty to be excited about and plenty for McMahon to be thinking about – the decisions he makes now having a ripple effect on next season’s promotion chances.

Thanks for reading the columns over the last year, there sure has been plenty to discuss. But now it’s all eyes on next season – Come On You Daggers!

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