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August Review – Adam Flanagan

It’s been a month now since the start of the season, how do you sum up August?

It has been a frustrating month for everyone involved at the club and our points return hasn’t been to the level we had set prior to the 8 fixtures. so for this we can only apologise.

The table doesn’t make pretty reading at the moment but we are only 5 points off the playoffs, What was your points target in August and do you think we can get back in line with the target.

I set a points return of 13+ points with the fixtures that we had and the position we was in with injuries.  This would have seen us sitting around 6th which would have been a fair position to be in considering 5 of the matches have been against top 8 teams.

With respects to getting back in line then I obviously believe that we can do this. We have 34 games left to play and 102 points still to play for. We are also helped further by us (more or less for the first time) having every member of the squad back and close to full fitness.

Why have the performances away from home been so different to the home games. Also our second half performances away from home have been different to first half?

Since we have come back to the club we have lost 3 in 25 games at home compared to 14 loses in 25 away. This is a concern as most of the wins at home have been done with the same personnel used in the away fixtures.   I do not look at our away fixtures and think that our tactics change and we suddenly become overly attack minded or in the same case that we equally become too negative and defensive.  We position and select the team to give us the best chance of winning the match irrespective of it being home or away so it is puzzling that the results are so different. We are looking to resolve this and become a more consistent team in every fixture.

The Wealdstone and Chelmsford games are heads seemed to drop after one goal and suddenly it became 4, can you explain why this is?

I think the Chelmsford games defeat was linked around the sending off. Unfortunately beforehand we had just made two attack minded substitution in finding an equaliser so this meant a lot of shuffling around which weakened us.  Chelmsford tails where then up in the air and they punished us. Against Wealdstone I think the own goal deflated us when we was on top in the game and this was then followed up against a quick third.  In both of these games for long periods we had put in a very good away performance and maybe the more disappointing bit for me was that when we was dominating in these games that we weren’t able to convert the opportunities into goals. Unfortunately at the same time of us not being able to convert the opposition took the chances that they received.   I also think we saw the effects of new players coming into the team with 7 new starters against Wealdstone and 9 new players start against Chelmsford (wynter classed as a new signing as original he was a loan player) so maybe this impacted a little. I also felt we missed our player of the season Lee Noble massively in these games and I am not surprised having him back has offered improvements to our performances.

Is it down to fitness? Do you think the players are fit enough compared to other teams?

I believe our fitness as a team is good but the difficulty we had in the earlier fixtures is that the subs we were making were predominately players coming back from injuries and who’s match minutes we were trying to increase so that they could return to full fitness.  Our oppositions subs however were fully fit and ready to take the shirts of the players starting.  All of this was when we had a lot of games in a short period but in recent weeks when games have gone back to 1 a week we have seen the injured players getting stronger to the point where I believe our subs are now making the positive impacts (exception Hungerford) we need and now give us good competition for places.

Do you think you know your best team and formation yet?  

I think only a few players so far have done enough to highlight that they should be starting every game.  When we have got close to having a potential strongest X1 performances have faded for some players while subs have come on and performed to a high level.  This means we still have shirts in the starting X1 for players to claim and this will need to be done with consistent high level performances.   I would say to date our best performances have been when we have played 4-3-3.

There has been questions over the team spirit and the players not looking like a team on the pitch in the early part of August, do you think this was the case and has it now changed?

I can see why these questions or suggestion has been made as this is normally what is said when teams are traditionally not doing well but I think togetherness comes from getting results.  We have an ambitious, talented squad of players who are disappointed that things haven’t gone better. I would rather them be like this than be happy and accept where we currently are.  So could the togetherness be a bit better then I believe the answer is a Yes but if you ask me will it get better as our results improve and the players become more knowledgeable of one another then my answer is ‘Definitely’.  As indicated earlier we are now in a position where we have everyone back  which will offer better competition for places, this in turn will then push players to perform to a higher level (especially those who have the starting shirt) which will then push for better individual and overall performances and this should then mean more wins and points on the board.

Ronnie didn’t play the first four games but is now back in, Do you know who your best two centre halves are now as the key will be a settled defence going forward?

Unfortunately Ronnie game back from Pre-season having put on nearly 5% body fat. This was a disappointment for him as much it was for us. He has slowly dropped this down and been excellent in his approach to training and being out of the team.  His reward for the efforts he has put in is now a starting place back in the side.   I thought he was very good in both games he has played so far and the place in the team is now his to lose.  As for who partners him at the moment this is between Bonner and Josh to take the place next to him. Both are excellent CB’s and have had plenty of game time this season already but at this moment in time while Bonner is out with his groin Josh will get an opportunity and its now down to how they do together.

We have also conceded a lot of goals so far this season and have a -8 goal difference, with you and Coylie being well known good centre halves, is there a lot of work in training to correct this?

Since the start of the season we have had only 4 training sessions so things have been a bit limited in what we can achieve. We have obviously worked on some defending elements but if you look at our defensive displays at home we have not conceded over 1 goal and up to around 74 minutes against Chelmsford and Wealdstone (barring Weymouth) we had only conceded one goal away in games.  This would suggest our overall defending is not too bad and that the real issue has been the mini collapses we have been having in the last 15 minutes of games which has made our defensive record so poor. On this front other than just training we have sat down with the defensive unit and reviewed all of the goals together exchanging views so that improvements can be offered and the same mistakes not made again.

Norman Wabo is on form at the moment will you be looking to start him on Tuesday or do you think he is more effective coming on?

Norman started a few games and while having a few good chances wasn’t able to turn them into goal.  After 3 starts and not being able to impact the way we had hoped we chose to replace him within the starting team. He has since come on and scored in 3 of the last 4 games and has done everything we have asked of him. He is now pushing for a start and we hope with his confidence high that he can take the positive impacts off the bench into his starting appearances.

There were two departures on Friday, Amos Nasha and Luke Warner Eley, can you explain your reason for this? Many supporters thought Warner-Eley had been the most consistent player so far this season?

Due to the injury crisis through pre-season the club authorised the signing of 3 extra players to come in during the busy match schedule. The increase in expenditure would be temporary and so levels would have to be reduced as players returned.  Amos came into the club knowing his situation would be reviewed at the end of August. My hope was that he would have done really well and showcased the attributes he has as a player. Unfortunately our results and performances we not as we would have liked and Amos performances were not better than others around him. With Noble, Flisher, Ben, Cameron, Allen and Jordan Wynter all being able to play in these central position it didn’t make sense to keep Amos on any longer.

Regarding Luke I would not disagree that he had been consistent and that he had impacted on less goals being conceded than other defenders. That said most footballing people will know that not all decisions you make in football are related to how a player performs on the grass.  If a player has started 6 games and performed ok then if he is released then there must be something behind this.  As a club we chose not to go into specific detail around his release as sometimes this is the easiest and kindest way of moving a player on.  As a club you have to respect that we have made the correct decision within the changing room and the group can now move on together. The harmony of the dressing room has to come higher than one individual player so a tough decision had to be made.

Will you be looking to replace him?

Yes we will be looking to replace him.

What is the situation with Pughy, Crook and Mark. Many fans will feel that with us not scoring loads of goals, that Pughy should be with us at the moment?

Pughy and Crooky are in a similar boat where they have missed lots of last season and now need competitive match minutes to bring them back to being fully match ready.  Both have unfortunately gone to East Thurrock and picked up injuries within two games which is disappointing but hopefully they will be back playing soon.  Mark has completed one full training session which is a real positive and the hope is that he will be ready to get some match minutes in the next 2/3 weeks.

With regards to Pughy being with us as the moment with the return of our leading scorer last year Charlie and Macca recovering from his dislocated shoulder we felt it was the perfect time for Pughy to go and get minutes.  We all want to see Pugh back in a Dartford shirt but I want to see him in it at his best and for this to happen he needs to be match sharp, match ready.  That is what the loan is hopefully going to give him and we can then get back a fit, hungry, sharp and strong Pughy which we all want to see.

What is your target for September?

To start being consistent with our performances and more importantly start winning games and putting a run together to get up the table into a better position. This hopefully starts tomorrow night at Tonbridge Angels.

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