Dagenham & Redbridge 'should hit the ground running'
And so it begins - another season in the National League for the mighty Daggers kicks off at Victoria Road as they welcome newly-promoted Gateshead on Saturday.
It promises to be another exhilarating season with a belief that Daryl McMahon’s men can break into the top seven and stake a claim for promotion via the play-offs.
However, this league is rarely decided on paper so when all the talking and predictions stop at 3pm on Saturday - all eyes on the pitch - we’ll get a first glimpse of whether this season is to be what it is built up to be.
The first five games see the Daggers favourites on paper but, with a largely new spine with the additions of David Longe-King and Omar Mussa, will it take a few games to gel?
I believe we should hit the ground running as these new signings appear to have settled in nicely over pre-season and only strengthened our bid for play-off football.
They add to an already strong squad that narrowly missed out last campaign with the key that will unlock that top seven door this season being consistency.
You could say that the play-offs were somewhat thrown away by the Daggers toward the end of last season - owing to defeat, followed by convincing victory, followed by defeat - impossible to progress on those inconsistencies.
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I maintain that McMahon’s men are more than capable of toppling any team on their day, as proved on the final day of last season against Wrexham, but how often they reach their full potential this season - week in, week out - will be the measure of their success, translating to a play-off place.
Before racing to the end goal, McMahon, like many managers in the game, will be taking it week by week once more.
Turning our attention to this Saturday’s encounter, against a Gateshead side who return to the top flight of non-league football as National League North champions. They will be tough opponents, eager to impress on their return to the league, but so long as we begin in the same manner as last campaign we should see off that challenge.
McMahon admitted he faces a selection headache and that only speaks to the added depth from last campaign which stands us in great stead. The diversity of attacking options means we should be firing on all cylinders on the opening day.
Mike Williamson’s side will prove a tough test with them having to prove themselves once more at this level. But I’m confident of a victory as the sun beams down on Victoria Road, starting off on the right foot, hoping we end it on the same terms come April.
Until next week, Come On You Daggers!