WHAT A SUMMER! WILL DAGGERS' SPENDING PAY OFF?






It has been a summer of recruitment from the Daggers, in a time of financial and health crisis, which has been THE most ambitious and promising yet. In a bid to return to the football league, our owners have backed the club with some statement signings in McCallum; some real promising rising stars in Saunders and McQueen; and a wealth of experience. 

With the owners always focussed on a football league return and an extremely inadequate showing last season - the consortium are (in the words of Peter Freund speaking to Digger Dagger Matchday) 'more committed than ever'. So - Will this ambition and change of tact pay off? That's the question.

 
Callum Reynolds - 


Some big shoes to feel, has the former Barnet man, after the departure of Manny Onariase at the end of last season – the Daggers CB partnership of Clark and Manny broken (or Clark, Manny & Croll in the back 3). However, at this level, and at Dagenham especially, we get used to football league standard players that we have acquired being picked up by those football league clubs so we must now move on and assess the new outlook.

Here is what Callum and ex-Daggers captain, Ben Nunn had to say on the deal:


Reynolds joined from the Bees continuing the ‘Barnet & Redbridge’ gags, having made 65 appearances for the Bees over the past two seasons. The 30-year-old central defender has also had previous National League experience, a watchword for this transfer window – EXPERIENCE – mixed with youth. The aforementioned recruitment tactic and dynamics in the squad were mentioned by Steve Thompson in a statement to fans before a single signing had been made. Back to Callum’s experience and it goes from Barnet to other ‘local’ clubs Aldershot Town and Boreham Wood, amassing 177 appearances in total in the National League.

An impressive CV, so let's hope he impresses even more on the pitch.

Elliot Johnson - 



Another Barnet man making the switch to Victoria Road due to yet another major outgoing for the Daggers in Liam Gordon. Elliot Johnson, a left sided CB and LWB who likes to get forward.  

Here are some initial reactions on Twitter from McCallum and Elliot himself at the time of the signing:



So, some brief stats on the new Daggers number 3 and his career stats, rather respectable for a player at this level, (even if he is a Barnet legend!). He made over 230 league appearances for the Bees over a 10-year stint from 2010-20 – being just 16 in 2010, it wasn’t until he was 18 he made his way into the first team setup at The Hive. He has appeared for Barnet therefore in the past 8 seasons with 4 being in League Two and the other half in the top-flight of non-league football.

"I'm a defender that likes to play with the ball rather than without the ball, but I can dig in and defend as well if needed. I like to start attacks from the back and get the team moving forward’’

Speaking to Daggers TV

I think this is a fantastic replacement on the face of it with a 25-year old who likes to get forward with an absolute wealth of experience. His will to get forward and sheer versatility is key for the McMahon way as he likes to have at least 2 formations in 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1; Johnson able to play in a back 3 and as a wing-back. However, with all these signings we will wait until they perform on the pitch when it counts and judge these new players by that. 

Dean Rance - 

A tenacious midfielder, hate him in opposition: love him in your team. Dean Rance is another experienced leader who was most recently captain of Aldershot where he made 24 appearances last campaign, but most notably an Ebbsfleet man. He made 203 appearances for the Fleet under McMahon who knows him only too well, with the Daggers manager working with him for around 6 years! The gaffer played with him in the heart of the Ebbsfleet midfield before manging him for 3 years so this is a player Daryl has full faith in.

“I think he is a player that the fans will love, he is wholehearted and a winner. He is a leader, which is something that we have lacked and was highlighted last season.’’

Daryl Speaking to Daggers TV on Rance

He is a central midfielder who isn’t known for his goal-scoring, in an area we have huge depth in already within the squad – competition for places for sure. With the likes of Brundle, Phipps and Robinson all vying for that place in central midfield, though there are bound to be injuries and suspensions. So, if they were to get injured I believe it’s one of our strongest positions on the pitch now and another strength is the number of captains and leaders we have in our ranks.



Rance joining that list along with Callum Reynolds and Mitch Brundle whom have all held the role at their previous clubs as well as other natural leaders like Justham etc. - this is something Daryl wants in abundance. When I asked him on the matter of defending set-pieces (where our record is woeful) he expressed it’s vital to have good organisation in these situations which we lacked last campaign. 

I doubt we’ll get anything less than 100% aggression and desire from the new number 4 who reminds me of Brundle with extra venom – let’s see how he gets on on the pitch!

Paul McCallum - 


WE’VE GOT OUR MAN. That was the message from the club and a striker was number one priority – a proven one at that. And… low and behold it was delivered!

Our new number 9, a striker with a proven track record and GOALS in abundance. That’s Paul McCallum from what we’ve seen elsewhere and in pre-season where he has scored his fair share already. Let’s hope for the same when the season gets underway on Saturday; it’s safe to say I along with others are expecting big things and for Paul to be the main man in our bid for promotion. Also, further into the football league in the next 3 years as the number no pressure!

Just some of the reactions on social media are below:

 


For more on my reaction to the signing of the summer click this link for the article which I wrote on the day of his announcement.

GEORGE SAUNDERS - 


An exciting young and local talent whose interview with Daggers TV excited many Daggers after he joined from Hornchurch but also some impressive stats. George was involved in upwards of 45 goals in the last two seasons and the 22-year-old was a huge fan favourite at Hornchurch.



McMahon has warned against fans expecting too much too soon from Saunders who is making the leap from Step 3 to 1 of the non-league pyramid. However, many I’ve spoken to at Hornchurch, his former coaches, as well as Urchins boss Stimson, have all hyped the player up saying he could easily have moved onto the football league this season – casting doubt by saying we won’t keep him for long.

But we have got him for now and I wrote 5 reasons why he was a fantastic signing, on the day he signed; here are some reactions following the confirmation of Saunders being a Daggers player. 

Darren McQueen - 


Darren McQueen, providing depth and notably PACE in the attacking department, perhaps to partner McCallum or get the better of tired legs in the back line coming off of the bench; was another of McMahon's targets. He joins from Dartford after netting 20 goals in 36 appearances and he too is no stranger to working under the man who now occupies the Daggers dugout. Darren played a pivotal role in earning Ebbsfleet promotion to the National League after scoring 20 goals also in the 2016/17 campaign.

His manager Daryl McMahon, with whom he is re-united said this:

"I'm delighted to have Darren join us here at Dagenham & Redbridge. He's a player that I've worked with before when I was at Ebbsfleet. He’s extremely quick, plays on the shoulder and is a good finisher”

Speaking to Daggers TV

Here is a highlights reel of the best of what McQueen is capable of.

Kai Brown (LOAN) - 


Trialist A Kai Brown signs on a 6-month loan from Ipswich and has really impressed so far this pre-season in a Dagenham shirt – getting a fair amount of goals and assists. Not only do his numbers so far look promising but he looked very comfortable on the ball with an abundance of creativity. The centre attacking midfielder is one of three stand-out players in his position; with Deering and Balanta to contend with. However, the latter’s injury struggles last year had a profound impact on the team so to have this depth and quality in such a key position is never a bad thing – there’ll be competition for sure.

Here are, again, a few reactions to the signing and Kai Brown himself on joining on loan:



A tweet I put out when this loan deal was announced was that our loan signings have been among our best signings in recent years; Ben House, Alex Reid; Conor Wilkinson* (*initially) for example - so let’s hope Kai can follow suit! 

Kai Brown is a player that Daryl McMahon knows well, having coached him at Dagenham & Redbridge a number of years ago when they were both part of the clubs' academy setup.

Despite his age of just 19, he is more than capable of impressing and helping the team achieve their collective goal of promotion even if he is only here until January and not beyond. 

Bailey Clements -


Another Ipswich Town loanee, Bailey Clements, has an identical agreement to his fellow Dagger/Tractor Boy lasting until January, but he has a very different position. Clements is similar to Johnson in that he can play CB and LB if needs be, providing back-up in the defensive department. He has asserted himself as a key part of the Town U23's side, as well as spending part of last season on loan at National League South side, Hemel Hempstead Town.

On joining the Daggers, Clements spoke to Daggers TV and said this…

"I like to bring the ball out from the back, I like to play through the thirds, but ultimately I'm a defender and when it comes to defending, I like to be as strong and physical as I can and keep the ball out of the goal. I can play left-back, left wing-back, anywhere along the defence really."

He has little in the way of experience in men’s first-team football and the defender himself admitted he’s out of his comfort zone, so let’s see how he fares.

Adrian Clifton - 

Last, but by no means least, Adrian Clifton who comes in to further bolster the Daggers attack. The 9th new signing McMahon has made and it’s a great one as he is proven to an extent in the National League; Clifton bagged 14 goals for Maidenhead United during the 2018-19 season.

He also has 100 appearances in the National League, having worked his way up through the non-league pyramid, he is by no means the first-choice striker and most probably behind McCallum and McQueen. But, he does offer great physicality up top and an alternative up-front: say, it isn’t McCallum’s day, Adrian could be the man to come on and nick a goal.



This is a view that Daryl confirmed when speaking to Daggers TV:

"Adrian is an experienced striker, he's been around the National League for a long time with the likes of Maidenhead, Havant & Waterlooville and Bromley. He's played in the lower levels of non-league as well. He's a target man, a handful to play against and I think he adds another dimension to our front-line."

That concludes my review of this season's transfer business; keep your eyes peeled on my socials for  more posts on this website and the return of my Barking & Dagenham Post Fan Blog after 203 days tomorrow!

All focus is now on Saturday and Halifax (A), which will be watched by Daggers fans worldwide via Live Stream. The title challenge STARTS NOW!

COYD, 

Keane 

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