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National League in focus: Dagenham & Redbridge

Having started the season mired in financial trouble, hopes were raised at Dagenham & Redbridge when an American led consortium took over the club back in September. 

However, while things have progressed off the field, on it Dagenham have failed to light up the league this season and are currently sitting in 17th place.

We caught up with our Dagenham match day reporter Ned Keating to get the lowdown on the current mood at Victoria Road.

What has been the overall verdict on the season? 

It is a bit of a tricky one because if you had given the fans the option of being where they are now a year ago they would have taken it because the club was in a really tough financial positon and to be honest some people were beginning to doubt if they club would even be able to carry on.

There was a big turnover of players over the summer with lots of people coming in who were not necessarily good enough to be able to push at the top of the table. So considering all this, you could argue that staying up is a success.

However, if you put all that to one side and look at things after the takeover by Trinity Sports Holdings in September then the season has actually been a bit of a failure.

Yes, the team got off to a bad start but lots of teams have started badly and gone on to have really successful campaigns and with the money that has been spent recently and the players that have come in, there is certainly a slight feeling of disappointment with how results have gone on the pitch.

Injuries have certainly come at a bad time but overall things havent really clicked on the field and that is why some of the fans have begun to turn on Peter Taylor.

What has been the impression of the new ownership among fans? 

The new owners have been met with open arms and the general impression of them is extremely positive. Peter Freund (the principle shareholder) is really active on social media as well, which has given him a huge amount of respect among supporters because he often speaks directly with them. This helps to show that the new owners have the club’s best interest at heart and it is great that they realise how important the fans are.

I think a lot of fans still see them as messiahs who came in, saved their beloved club and are continuing to pump money into it. I think it was always accepted that this season was never going to be about promotion but the fans really respect what has been done and there is a huge amount of excitement for next season.

The owners have also put forward a number of development plans over the summer, which suggests that they are in this for the long haul and are not just here to make a quick buck.

What are the hopes for next season? 

Well, when speaking to one fan, Peter Freund said that the aim for next year was to challenge for promotion. To come out and publicly state that at this stage is certainly a bold move but I think he is right, they should be looking towards the top of the table but it is going to be a really difficult division next season.

If you look at the teams potentially going down, Notts County could be one of them while, we could end up having Torquay and Stockport coming up, Also teams like Chesterfield certainly aren’t going to be knocking around near the bottom next year and at least one of Salford, Orient and Wrexham will still be here.

I would imagine that there will be another big turnover of players at Dagenham over the summer so it will certainly be interesting to see what happens.

Is Peter Taylor the right man for the job? 

I have been quite open in my criticism of him at times. The ownership group speak so much about wanting to build a legacy at the club but with the greatest respect to Peter, he’s not going to be here for 10 or 15 years.

Tactically, he will happily play with three defensive midfielders and look for a point rather than go all out for a win. That has been fine this year but you simply can’t use those tactics if you are going for promotion.

If you look at the current top seven, they all have one thing in common, they like attacking and Dagenham are going to have to do that if they want to be successful next year.

Of course you also need a strong back line as well and I think with players like Kenny Clark and Nathan Smith Dagenham do have that, they just need more of an end product.

The last few weeks have been especially frustrating. When it became apparent that relegation was not a serious possibility  it would have been nice to have seen a bit more attacking content and the team cross the line with style, however they have kind of stumbled like a drunk guy coming out of the pub at 4 in the morning!

And finally, who has been the best team that you have seen come up against Dagenham this season? 

It would have to be Leyton Orient. They were head and shoulders above anyone else really, the way they knocked it about and played was really, really impressive to watch.

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