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Former Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan on why he and Jamie Coyle resigned

ByMatthew Panting

Former Dartford joint-manager Adam Flanagan has expressed his disappointment at leaving the club.

Flanagan and Jamie Coyle resigned after last Tuesday's 3-2 defeat at Tonbridge in National League South having taken just seven points from the first nine games.

Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle confer on the touchline Picture: Andy Payton
Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle confer on the touchline Picture: Andy Payton

The duo took charge in May 2018 after Tony Burman stepped down following more than a decade at the helm. He was always going to be a tough act to follow.

“To say that I am disappointed with how things went would be an understatement,” said Flanagan.

“I am truly gutted as I only ever wanted to bring the successful times I had, as a player, back to the club.

“I knew it would be a tough job to follow Tony but I believed everyone would be excited about the appointment and that together we would build something very special. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case though.”

That special bond meant it was a tough decision for Flanagan and Coyle to make when they decided to call time on their spell in charge at Darts.

“It was extremely hard as I have real feeling for the club,” explained Flanagan.

“As a player I never wanted to leave and so when I went into management the aim was one day to see if I could come back.

“I always kept in touch with Tony and when the call came to come in I was extremely excited. When they had Coylie and myself in the room and asked us to do the job I felt like I had come home.

“So last week when I decided it was time to leave it was very hard to tell Tony, Dave (Skinner) and Steve (Irving) as I felt I had let them down and a lot of other good people down.

“I chose to resign because I wanted the fans to know that I put the club before myself. I also didn’t want Tony, Dave and Steve – people who I admire immensely – to have to make a tough decision as I had made it for them.”

Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle took over from Tony Burman in May 2018
Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle took over from Tony Burman in May 2018

Much has been made about the terrible run of injuries that the duo had while in charge.

At the start of last season they lost Andy Pugh in pre-season and, almost a year to the day, new signing Sam Blackman broke his leg in July. They were just two of many long-term casualties.

Flanagan, however, refused to hide behind that, probably a measure of the man.

“In its simplest form we did not win enough games,” he reflected. “When you start a new season you need to get a win early on and we didn’t until the sixth game.

“We had some tough teams and we had injuries but we still had enough I felt to beat the teams we played and yet we weren’t able to do that.

“As a management team we weren’t able to get the complete 90-minute performance out of the team as in spells in every game we showed signs that offered lots of promise.

“This was often led by periods before or after that did not offer the same consistency.

“I still believe we assembled a good group that are, at the moment, going through a tough spell but they will come good and the club will fly up the league.

“I only want the greatest of success for the players and the club going forward and am sorry I wasn’t able to give this.”

A highlight of the duo's tenure was a National League South manager-of-the-month award in February 2019
A highlight of the duo's tenure was a National League South manager-of-the-month award in February 2019

Flanagan certainly hasn’t taken the easy path in management. Having followed Danny Cowley at Concord in his previous post, it was always going to be a hard job to replace Burman.

But has his time at Princes Park put him off managing in the future?

“With every managerial role I have learned valuable lessons and that has been the same while at Dartford,” he said.

“Things that I would have done differently, things I need to improve on, things I am happy with, things I will not accept going forward, so football management is a learning curve.

“Truth be told, who knows what the future holds at this time. All I know is that if I get back into football then it won’t be following another legend, having followed Danny Cowley at Concord and now Tony Burman.

“The next position, if one arises, will have to see me follow someone with a more moderate status.

“If nothing happens then I will still be happy as I have two great kids who I never see enough of when I am at football.

“I have put some serious weight on over the last few seasons so I want to become healthier and this won’t be a five-minute thing.

“My love for football will still be there and I will more than likely head over to Billericay, where I live, or other local clubs to watch games and see some friends who I haven’t been able to see due to my football commitments in the past.”

Adam Flanagan says he was desperate to relive his glory days as a Darts player Picture: Matthew Barber
Adam Flanagan says he was desperate to relive his glory days as a Darts player Picture: Matthew Barber

Flanagan paid tribute to joint-boss Coyle and his backroom staff while he also backed Burman – who himself moved to rubbish suggestions that he had an input in team affairs while the duo were in charge.

“Jamie is a great guy and I have loved being with him during my time at Dartford,” said Flanagan.

“We didn’t get the results we dearly wanted and going forward who knows if we will do anything jointly again or if we will return to managing individually.

“One thing is for sure, we will remain good friends who will help and support one another in the future.

“At this time I would like to add that in Andrew Young, Harrison Grant, Will Barker, Dave Philips, Barry Bell, Terry Groom and the doctor we had a truly great backroom team who I would like to thank endlessly for everything they did for us both.

“Tony Burman is Dartford through and through. He has earnt the respect of everyone and everything he does is with the club’s best interests at heart.

“I am sure the transition from football manager to director of football hasn’t been easy for him but I would say he has filled the role and all the responsibilities that come with it as passionately and as energetically as he did while on the sidelines.

“He is a great man and in my opinion is beyond question.”

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