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Dartford FC have found it easier to sign players during the season than in the summer

By Steve Tervet

Dartford’s management team have defended their transfer policy after going back into the market this week.

New signing Phil Roberts made his debut as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Slough Town.

Only five of that starting XI were Darts players when the season began, such has been the turnover since August.

Dartford winger Andre Coker is on loan from Maidstone Picture: Sean Aidan
Dartford winger Andre Coker is on loan from Maidstone Picture: Sean Aidan

Joint-boss Adam Flanagan said: “We started the season quite well but then our performances and results dipped.

“We didn’t win in four and it became evident performances in some areas of the team needed to be better.

“During the next weeks and months, we looked at bringing new faces to the team that would make us better.

“Our results have improved so it’s probably been proven that was the right thing to do, even though it’s not traditionally something Dartford have done and it might be unfamiliar to the fans.

“It has marked improvements in our results but (joint-boss) Jamie Coyle and I still think there are areas we need to continue to improve in.”

A busy summer at times proved frustrating for the pair after they were brought in to succeed Tony Burman.

Flanagan said: “We spoke to a lot of players but in a free market, where finances are key, Dartford are never going to feature at the top. At best, our budget is the 11th or 12th best in the league.

“But during the season, when players haven’t featured for their clubs, it’s a different ball game.

“Players want to come out and play football, the monetary issue becomes secondary and that’s when we can capitalise.”

Flanagan says the culture of non-league football has changed since his playing days. He said: “I see more players – even at our level – who treat this as their job, even if it is part-time.

“They look to earn as much money as they can to maybe save them from having to work. When you’ve got someone like that, finances become important.

Dartford joint-managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford joint-managers Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle Picture: Andy Payton

“If you’ve got someone with a good job and you’re looking to bring them into a professional environment, a nice ground, well supported, you’ve got more of a chance.

“But if you’re doing a job and someone’s going to pay you substantially more to do that job elsewhere, people will take the option that’s going to reward them the most.

“That’s the difficulty we face. This season there are three full-time teams in the league and some big clubs.

“We all look to the same player and when that happens, it becomes a player’s market and they can command what they want and it goes to the highest bidder.

“If we ever get into that kind of position, as a club, we’ll always lose.”

Dartford are right in the National League South play-off mix and Flanagan believes they can finish in the top seven if supporters get behind them.

He said: “We want to reach out to the fans a bit more and give them a greater understanding because they’re frustrated. We know that because of how quiet it is at home games.

“As a management team, we’re working hard to deliver a team they will get behind and be proud of.

“We’ve got a lot of young players in the team and they need some encouragement to spark us into life.

“We need to come together more as a club because we are a good club and I know we will have a positive season.”

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