Dagenham & Redbridge ready to perform says Ben Strevens

Dagenham & Redbridge boss Ben Strevens believes they have done all the hard work needed in pre-season and just need to go and perform in their National League opener at Altrincham.

Daggers will begin the 2023-24 campaign in greater Manchester with a host of new faces in their squad after a summer rebuild.

And Strevens feels he has the right blend to make their mark as he embarks on his first full campaign in charge.

“I’m really confident in the work we’ve done, feel like we’ve prepared right for the game ahead, just got to go out perform now,” he told the club website.

“They worked incredibly hard. We certainly feel like we’ve ticked off some things but that grows across the season as well, leading into that first game.

“I know people wanted a bit of change, I understand the reasons why, but the biggest part of the turnover is making sure the togetherness is there and the team spirit is there.

“It’s always difficult. There’s been some players that have left the club that have done really well and I’m sure people are gutted they’ve left. There’s others that they maybe felt the time was right, both ways, for player and club.

“But we’re really positive about the members that stayed and the ones we’ve brought in. They’ve all brought their qualities in, all got their own experiences, come for different reasons, that’s something we’ve looked at over the course of the summer.

“Now it’s just them coming together as a team and performing on Saturday and Tuesday.”

Strevens has added eight new names to his squad, including Josh Rees, Frank Vincent, Tom Eastman, Ryan Hill, Charley Kendall, Jake Hessenthaler, Lewis Page and Conor Lawless.

And he believes his players have been given all the tools needed to be ready for opening day.

“We feel like we’re there, as a staff, we’ve tried giving them everything they’d need,” he added.

“You can always give them more, we’re always working hard to give them more information to make them ready.

“I feel like they’re ready to play now and I’m sure it’s the same for Altrincham and everyone else in this league. You get to the point you just want to get going now.

“Every team will be the same. We’re all stepping into the unknown, we all probably think we’ve done well over the summer, that we’ve recruited well, we’ve got certain feelings, and really start showing in the opening weeks of the season.

“We’re looking forward to the game and we feel like we’re prepared.”

Admitting he does not know too many specifics about what threats the current Altrincham side might pose, Strevens is aware of the progress they have made in recent times.

But he says his primary thoughts have to be about his own team, saying: “We’ve just got to focus on us. I’m very respectful of the job they’ve done at Altrincham the last few years, getting promoted out of National North, being part-time, that progression that they’ve now turned into a full-time club, that’s meant they’ve had a turnover of players, going from part-time to full-time, some have jobs.

“They’re a talented group of players, certainly respectful of the threats they’ve got and the way they play. But early part of the season we’ve got to focus on ourselves.

“We’ve not seen them over pre-season games, you haven’t got that build-up of National League games, knowing loads about each other, formations. We have an idea and I’m sure they have an idea about us.

“But concentrate on what we can do on the day and hope if we’re right at it, as good as we can be, we will be a match for most teams we play against.”

And as a new campaign gets underway, Strevens is well aware of the excitement generated among the fanbase and is hoping to ensure the Daggers supporters have a good trip back to east London on Saturday evening.

“Whatever success we hopefully have is going to be as a collective,” he said.

“Everyone at the club, all the stuff that has gone on over the summer to turn a bit more positivity around the club, I really feel it’s there. The backing from the owners, having the fans forum and getting that connection again with the fans.

“Now it’s our job as staff and players that are front and centre of it, we’ve got to go and perform on the pitch.

“All the good feelings, the encouragement and positivity around the club, if we do well, that will only grow and that’s what our job is, to give them something to cheer about, something to be proud about ultimately.

“If they’re travelling to Altrincham, they want to be on the way back talking about how well we played and what we did, rather than going home negative.

“Every football fan wants to be positive about their club, they want to see the good things the players do, that’s what we’ve got to try and do Saturday.

“Southend the following week I’m really looking forward to in terms of an atmosphere. It will probably be my first game as manager here that I’m really going to see a bumper crowd, everyone excited for the game.

“But we’ve got to be respectful and know it’s going to be a tough test against Altrincham to start with.”


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