The real business is just four days away, pre-season friendlies have been completed and we are ready for what League Two has in store for us this year. The pain of relegation has started to fade but to think we will bounce back straight away is beyond us.
We have lost our top goal scorers from last season – Danny Green to Charlton and Romain Vincelot to Brighton, and with the retirement of Tony Roberts it will be a different line-up this year at Victoria Road. To be honest if we had kept all three of them I’m not sure we would have gone up automatically anyway.
The problem we had last year was selling Paul Benson to Charlton at the end of the transfer window in August and not replacing him. We tried numerous options but we were missing the cutting edge of a goal scorer and that was ultimately what cost us in the end. Getting relegated by one point was no disgrace, most people had us to be down by Christmas, but to hang on in there until the end was a true credit to the Daggers fighting spirit.
With three pre-season games played at home in the last week, a 0-0 bore draw with Leyton Orient, a narrow 1-0 defeat to a fairly strong West Ham side, and a 2-1 defeat to Stevenage on Saturday (good luck to them this year – back-to-back promotions is a great achievement at any level of football), some could look on us as though we may struggle this year.
As always don’t read too much into these games, Saturday’s game was made up predominantly by trialists, although some of them gave a good account of themselves. Jake Reed is looking like another John Still diamond, Alex Osborn will hopefully break into the team this year, Danny J Green looks almost ready for the first team and with Jamie Shea from Arsenal on loan until the end of the season we are looking okay.
But… it will all depend on how quickly these guys gel as a unit. Will we win the league? No chance, but we may sneak into the playoffs once again and then who knows what will happen. I think this year we will flirt around the edges of the playoffs all season and unfortunately will finish just outside of them.
I’m not writing us off yet though as with Dagenham you just never know; in our time in the Football League we have had to play for something every season right until the end, whether we are fighting relegation and escaping, playing for the playoffs then missing out, again playing for the playoffs, sneaking in and winning at Wembley, or losing out to relegation on the final day as we did last year. You just don’t know where it will end.
With four days to go it’s all about hope and dreams of a season of perfection, whether that will be the case come the beginning of May who knows? That is what makes football at this level so very exciting. I’m ready for the big kick off. Are you?
Written by Anthony Hodgson, We Are Going Up’s Dagenham & Redbridge Blogger
Anthony tweets at @ahodgson72