Daryl McMahon is more than happy with the way his squad is shaping up ahead of the 2018/19 campaign and while Fleet’s summer business has been lighter than some clubs, the manager insists long-term quality over short-term quantity is key to his plans.
“We’re in a position where I’ve got four years left on my contract and I’ve always looked to build long-term rather than do things short-term,” McMahon told eufc.co.uk. “We’ve got a very strong group and I think they’ve shown that already in pre-season. We’ve signed two, some teams have signed 10. The argument is that we didn’t need to add that many to it. Kedwell, Coulson, Whitely – we’ve got the likes of them in the door already, they’re players other clubs would love to be signing this summer but we don’t need to sign them this summer because we’ve got them. You can bring in players for the sake of it but they have to make the team better.
“Teams bringing in 10 with the exception of your Salfords, etc, they’re the teams who have to bring in 10 because their squads weren’t good enough last season in many cases,” the manager said. “Teams that have progressed over the last year or two like Boreham Wood or Sutton, Tranmere too, have done so slowly and with three, four, five maximum changes. Over three or four years, we’ve tried to create a team and a winning environment by building it, not throwing bodies at it, and I think we’ve succeeded. The ideal is that you don’t change too much each summer; the best scenario is that you do only change two or three a year because you’ve built the foundatons of a team, you’ve got more or less the core group you want.”
The Fleet are, of course, still chasing targets up front. McMahon said he’ll continue to focus his recruitment efforts in that direction but insists there’s no suggestion of desperation to that chase and he’s happy to bide his time.
“We’ve been in a waiting game for our targets,” he said. “We need to get the right one in – I know I’ve said that a lot. There’s no point me going out and getting somebody who isn’t going to be here for the right reasons. I want somebody that we can bring in, develop, who’s going to be here for a long time and go into our group in the same way the likes of Adams, Coulson, Whitely, Powell, Magri, McQueen, Shieldsy have… young players that we have and that’s the kind of group I’m looking to enhance here. I’m after somebody in and around that age group with quality.”
And the Fleet manager conceded the chase had been frustrating for eager fans, with his targets proving to be much in demand. “They’re hard to get, those players, because everyone’s after the same player. Obviously people will say, well such and such a team has signed whoever. They weren’t our targets. We’ve missed out on the ones we’ve looked at, high-calibre targets, for now. It’s probably well known we were after Fejiri Okenabirhie and Junior Morias who have gone to the EFL. That’s the sort of calibre we’re looking at because if you look at who we have in the building already, Keds has 20 goals last season, McQueen should be looking to get in and around that. And we probably have more attack-minded players behind them than a lot of teams in this league – Coulson, Whitely, Weston, Shields, Powell, Drury etc, all goalscorers as well. Who you bring in has got to be better than that.
“So people will keep on about a striker, and I agree, that’s why we’re looking for one, but I’m not panicking about it because there’s no need to panic about it. I’d rather wait for the right one than rush in the wrong one.”
Darren McQueen’s return to fitness is good news for the Fleet and the striker found the net on Tuesday night, appearing to be sharper with every friendly under his belt. “We’re making plenty of chances for ourselves,” McMahon said. “Last season we made it to the play-off semi-final without Darren, now he’s back in and it feels like a new signing already and we’re aiming for a third player up front. So I’m pretty sure that if it’s not in place by the start of the season, by the time we’re into the season’s first few weeks, we’ll have one in the door. Look at the other night and the chances we had. OK, we could have scored 10 and we didn’t, but it’s pre-season and as long as we hit those performance levels and create those chances, we’ll always score goals.
“That will go with the strong squad we have currently. We know what we want, we know how we want to play and our squad have a good understanding of each other. We’ve got all that in place right now and we’re looking out for that one piece of extra quality and I think we’ll be a strong team again this season.”