How Dagenham & Redbridge can strengthen squad to launch title bid next season
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 April 2020
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With all remaining fixtures in the National League cancelled, meaning Dagenham & Redbridge will remain in the division, where can Daryl McMahon strengthen for a title challenge?
When speaking to the owners last August, they made it clear they wanted to get to the play-offs, but obviously that didn’t and wouldn’t have happened this term.
Also, I asked them whether they would effectively buy their way out the league and they said ‘So, the answer is yes’ therefore I feel a sizeable budget will be supplied for McMahon this summer – if it isn’t hugely dented by Coronavirus.
They also added that the importance of promotion is also due to the attendances which are fairly low currently. Then, when I asked about squad depth, they said ‘we’re strong at the back and in midfield but are lacking a prolific goalscorer’. That I feel is still the case!
So, I’m kicking off my search for potential transfers in the striker position as two were shifted out on loan at the back end of the season and two, in Ben House and Alex Reid, returned to their parent clubs.
If I was in charge of the club’s transfer activity, I would look to get Alex Reid in permanently as I feel he is dangerous up top in every way.
Also, though it may be tricky because House is at Reading, to get him in on a permanent basis, but if not I feel we need to build a squad – so a loan move won’t quite cut it and attention should be turned elsewhere.
Angelo Balanta put pen to paper last season committing his long-term future to the club but for me he’s not a natural striker or out and out goalscorer. So, instead I think we should look to the Colombian’s former club, Boreham Wood, and to Kabongo Tshimanga.
He only joined Wood last season after scoring 24 goals for Oxford City in the 2018/19 campaign so will be hard to prise away from Meadow Park, especially following another impressive goal tally of 15 in the shortened 2019/20 campaign where he featured a total of 29 times.
That is the sort of goalscoring record Daggers need if they are to progress and win league titles or at least reach the play-offs, so it may be a costly buy but by all means a necessary one.
I am sure if we were to sign Tshimanga it would be a very welcome addition from a fans’ perspective.
But it might make us unpopular with announcers, with Tshimanga and Eleftheriou to pronounce, if the former signs but also if the latter starts as I feel there have been inconsistencies in that right-back position.
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Therefore, to really solidify the back line I’d look at bringing in a right back or wing back which would perhaps be more suitable for McMahon’s style.
Whilst searching for targets I bear in mind the fact that players at this level like to keep it local and one fairly local player is Kane Smith.
The right-back is no stranger to getting forward and made it to the play-off final with Boreham Wood in 2017/18 playing as a wing back in a 3-5-2 formation.
Whilst at Hitchin Town before his move to Meadow Park, he provided a grand total of 30 assists in two seasons.
For me Smith would be the ideal target as he is a right back that likes to get forward and he has a proven track record – ticking every box.
However, he did have an injury that kept him out for the entire 2018/19 campaign, so by the time next season comes round he’d have gone a few years without playing a full season.
Whether that effects his credibility I am unsure, but injuries aside he has got to be near the top of the list in terms of targets.
In terms of the rest of the defence, I think it’s very solid both with the starters and those behind – there is great depth – and I’d say the same for the middle of the park.
On central midfield, I think Harold Odametey could be like a new signing next season, driving through the opposition and spraying balls out wide or chipping it over the top.
Therefore I feel that instead of going out and looking for perhaps a solid central midfielder who possesses some much-needed height we should see how Odametey fares.
So, all in all, I feel we’re just a couple of players short, especially in the final third, of a side capable of challenging for promotion. Therefore, if the owners are willing to spend in the striker position and perhaps on the right side then we have every chance.
But there is no getting away from the fact it’s a very competitive league and significant progress will have to be made if the Daggers are to put up a fight next season (whenever that next season is).
I believe McMahon’s offensive style will pay off, though, in this league if we can take our chances up top and work on keeping it tight at the back.
To all the Daggers, let’s hope we can get behind the side at Victoria Road soon, but until then stay home and stay safe. Also a massive thanks to all the key workers!
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