Daggers boss calls on players to become ‘warriors’ ahead of Stags clash

Dagenham and Redbridge manager John Still during Dagenham and Redbridge vs Barnet, Sky Bet League 2 Football at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, London, England on 13/02/2016
Dagenham and Redbridge manager John Still during Dagenham and Redbridge vs Barnet, Sky Bet League 2 Football at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, London, England on 13/02/2016

Dagenham & Redbridge manager John Still knows his hands are tied as to what money he can spend to keep his struggling side in the Football League.

As he prepared to bring his bottom-placed club to One Call Stadium on Saturday, Still admitted: “Finances are tight and we’re not that kind of club.

“We had to replace the centre backs who left, which we did and I’m pleased with them.

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“We let Kyle Vassell go and brought Oliver Hawkins in, who I’m delighted with. We brought Luke Guttridge in to give us some experience and knowledge, so him being injured is a huge blow.

“We’ll look at the market and there may be one or two things we can do. I’ll have a good look at that.”

The Daggers have four away wins to their name, so will be no mugs on Saturday, but amazingly they have still not won at home, crashing 2-0 to Barnet last weekend.

“At the moment, we’re down mentally,” said Still.”Even if we had a great run and lost against Barnet, they’d be down and that’s natural.

“That feeling of being down can only be overcome by people who are willing to be warriors. “Obviously it’s been a difficult season for them all, but there’s no magic wand. It’s down to hard work and it’s down to being focused and organised.

“Barnet was the first game I came away from feeling disappointed.

“I know these players work terrific, but I think it’s that mental focus that’s needed as much as that physical work. I think it’s a mental thing that they have to overcome.”

On the threats posed by the Stags, he said: “We work all week on everything.

“But the problem you get is that sometimes all it takes is a little bit of discipline in a fraction of a second, one step too far or slow, that can be the difference between winning and losing.

“We have to try and put all those little things into our advantage, not our disadvantage.

“Since I’ve been back here, I think Barnet was the worst performance that we’ve put in.

“I thought we were very good in the week against Wycombe and very good at home to Northampton, but I thought we had no consistent tempo about our game against Barnet.

“I thought the first goal we gave away was really poor defending.

“I felt were up against it, sometimes you can be behind and be the dominant team, but we never looked like being dominant.

“Our attacking play was patchy, if we got the ball to Oliver and got in around him, we looked like we might create something.

“I was a bit disappointed, not with the effort, but we just needed that extra touch of quality at times. We needed the right cross or the right ball, but we never found it against Barnet.”

“It’s really difficult because when things go against you, how do you get confidence?

“It’s by continually doing the right things, it doesn’t guarantee you anything, but your game becomes better for it.

“A lot of the work since I’ve been here has been repetition work to get people confident with themselves.”

Still’s plans for a way of surviving have been rocked by an injury to Luke Guttridge on his debut.

“We almost hit on a way of playing and brought Luke Guttridge which would enable us to get the ball in the final third because he has a great eye for a goal and a pass,” he said.

“Unfortunately he’s injured and that’s been a massive hit for us because I worked hard to bring him in.

“I don’t know how long he’s going to be out, so that’s a massive blow.

“For us, we have these very experienced players and it’s a big influence we’ve lost.

“ I can’t fault how hard people work, but it’s working with your head as well as your body.

“That’s the challenge now and one we’ve got to live up to.

“We can mope and be disappointed, or we can get back into it and work as hard as we can.

“I think it’s a mental thing we’re working with, but that’s part and parcel of the job.”

“It’s not difficult to say to ourselves that if things aren’t going well, what are we going to do about it?

“That’s the time when people have to step up to the plate and I’ve told the players that we’re at that stage. The players have to step up, they have individual jobs to do and that’s the key, to be confident in what you have to do.

“People start using things (like home form) as an excuse, but I’m not one for an excuse. I don’t believe in luck, I think it’s about hard work.

“It can become an excuse and the fact they haven’t been successful at home could be that excuse. There’s only one way to do it and that’s doing the job you’re given efficiently.

“We’re not doing it consistently at the minute, we’ve been doing it okay. The games since I’ve been back, I’ve taken lots of plusses from all those games, but I’m struggling against Barnet.”

“When we work in training, they work so hard and diligently. They’re so focussed and everything we ask, they’re doing it.

“They have to come on matchday and produce the same levels. That’s not always the same levels of ability, it’s the same levels of concentration, discipline and commitment.

“It’s all of the different levels and I think at the moment, I don’t know if they fear playing at home, but it’s their job!”