Daggers can feast on Cod
Micky Mellon was left perplexed by Fleetwood's shock derby defeat at home to Accrington in midweek and, as much as he would like to believe the result was a one-off, we reckon more of the same could follow when the Cod Army make the monster journey down to Dagenham & Redbridge this weekend.
The basement produced a string of bizarre results on Tuesday, prompting a wave of stinging criticism from humbled gaffers and some interesting reactions beckon. But Fleetwood's reversal against their labouring local rivals was arguably the most embarrassing of the lot, yet Mellon chose to be diplomatic.
Speaking to local reporters straight after the game, he said: "I'm shocked to be honest, but I've got to take responsibility. Most of my players couldn't pass the football and, as the manager, my job is to get them to pass the football.
"Defensively, we were all over the place. I've not seen anything like that for a long time. Again, as the manager, I'm supposed to coach them their defensive duties and obviously I haven't communicated that with them properly."
It's a response made all the more curious by the number of household names on the Fleetwood teamsheet, players who shouldn't need to be coached the basics, and it's hard to escape the impression that the former Blackpool midfielder is trying to avoid confrontation with his big earners, the appetite of whom has to be questioned.
We made our reservations clear over a month ago regarding the peculiar dynamic that must exist in the Highbury Stadium dressing room with several players of Championship pedigree dropping down to a level beneath their reputations and integrating with players of purely non-league background.
For the most part, results haven't been too bad. On the surface, everything appears to be ticking along nicely with the Cod Army riding high on the cusp of the automatic promotion places. In truth, though, the Lancashire newcomers have seldom dominated matches and have yet to deliver a performance of real class.
The natural conclusion, of course, is that opponents have been attaching too much weight to the league table and the teamsheet, playing with apprehension and giving Fleetwood too much respect, injecting the necessary sense of adventure into their play only when it's too late.
However, such inhibitions are less likely with Dagenham, a club that traditionally thrives on putting big reputations to the sword, especially in the humble surroundings of their own backyard. Indeed, it was only a fortnight ago that big-spending Rotherham were annihilated 5-0 at Victoria Road.
John Still has repeatedly made the point about replacing the heart of his team over the summer and a lack of understanding means the Daggers might come a cropper from time to time. But, generally speaking, they are playing with real verve, creating chances aplenty and making sure progress.
The Essex boys will have to make do without striker Dwight Gayle now, with the former Arsenal youngster going on loan to Peterborough with a view to a permanent move. But Still has coped with bigger departures down the years, stressing that the club will never stand in the way of any player who is presented with an opportunity to further his career.
It's a philosophy that wins huge respect and mutual understanding from within. So those who remain won't dwell for too long on Gayle's departure, they will be too busy trying to carve a path towards bigger things themselves - with help from each other - and the home win is worthy of investment at 7/5.
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