Uphill task for determined Daish
Ebbsfleet manager Liam Daish has been left with another rebuilding job at Stonebridge Road after the summer departures of a handful of key men…
A relegation, a promotion, an FA Trophy success, a major rebranding and a controversial takeover: Liam Daish has seen just about everything in his seven-and-a-half years in charge. And still he stands on the touchline with a hirsute belligerence when others might have thrown in the towel long ago. Is this stability? Of a fashion. But not for the first time the former Irish international is left picking up the pieces after an early summer of departures on the playing staff.
Last season was one of moderate success – survival was comfortably secured – but three of the key ingredients will be absent this time around. Strikers Liam Enver-Marum, Calum Willock and Ricky Shakes have all already moved on.
Control has often been a loaded term at Stonebridge Road. MyFootballClub’s takeover in 2008 threatened to change the rules; their intention was to allow the thousands of new investors to vote on team selection and player recruitment. In the end Daish saw off those threats to stoically battle on.
He has held control throughout. Control of the key components at least. The 43-year-old has learned to roll with the punches, concerning himself simply with the aspects he is able to affect. The distractions of ownership and rebranding have undoubtedly had an impact but it is impossible to underestimate the role Daish has played during his time in Kent and the respect he commands throughout non-league.
Losing Willock to Blue Square Bet South side Dover came as a bitter blow to the Fleet, who then saw Enver-Marum handed a short-term deal with League One Stevenage in a marginally more palatable departure. But those moves, as well as the likely exit of midfielder Michael West, leave United’s fans fearing a campaign of regression. The club’s supporters are used to professional poachers circling in the closed season but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. Daish, at least, serves to keep the Fleet on something approaching the straight and narrow, and as long as he remains at Stonebridge Road, fans have reason to believe in overachievement.
Once again Daish is left with a rebuilding job on his hands with player departures setting back any hopes of long-term development. The manager appreciates the club’s place in the food chain: a half-way house for the likes of Enver-Marum, searching for a route back up the ladder. So the role of the youth system becomes ever more important. Can the Fleet churn out the sort of talent ready to be blooded in a largely professional division?
In the end United’s situation is similar to that of so many of their rivals. There is a time for a long-term approach and a time for the sticking plaster. If Daish can keep the returning Moses Ashikodi focussed and content, there may be the opportunity to look to the future. But if a rot sets in, last season’s good work may need to be swiftly cast aside.
We have every faith in Daish but so often he is forced to work with his hands tied. It might be a struggle for the Fleet this term but we fancy them to have just about enough to keep their heads above water.
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides during the coming days: Alfreton, Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hereford, Hyde, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Luton, Macclesfield, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Stockport, Tamworth, Telford, Woking, Wrexham
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