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Graham Daniels hails the impact of Joe Dunne on Cambridge United

Cambridge United director of football Graham Daniels. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge United director of football Graham Daniels. Picture: Keith Heppell

Decision was easy to hand caretaker the full-time reins

Graham Daniels was effusive in praise of the abilities of Joe Dunne to deliver the playing style desired at Cambridge United.

When Daniels became director of football, he was seeking an entertaining and exciting brand of play.

Dunne stepped in as interim head coach on the departure of Shaun Derry in February, and in the subsequent 14 games, the U’s supporters have enjoyed the more attacking approach from the side.

So in terms of targets, they certainly seem to have been met.

“Yes, he’s bought it in buckets,” said Daniels. “It was precisely that, the baton was exciting, entertaining and brave.

“It was very, very easy indeed when we did make a change, it was entirely intuitive that Joe would take the reins then.

“We expected him to do that, it’s precisely what he and his staff have done, and it’s really important to us.

“We’ve seen that from the fans, we’ve seen it from season ticket sales.

“We can live with losing games. No one wants to lose many, but we all know we win or lose and that’s sport, that’s the nature of sport, but people want to be entertained and they love courage.

“Underlying everything we’ve seen in the last 14 games is that staff and players themselves, as well as fans and directors, have seen older guys lead on the pitch and younger men grow because they know what’s required of them and they look confident.

“It’s changed the whole register of the way the football club works.”

It would perhaps have been easy for the U’s season to peter out, with their safety assured and the play-offs out of reach, but that has certainly not happened.

Dunne has driven on the side to improve themselves, and that has been reflected in their results.

“We knew it wouldn’t taper off, we were absolutely unequivocal that it wouldn’t,” said Daniels.

“When I met with Joe that first week and he looks at you with those steely eyes and when you ask are you willing to do this for the rest of the year and those eyes look at you and say, ‘if I do it, we’re doing it properly’.

“So I think from the very first sentence there was zero doubt that there was no chance that the season was tailing off whatsoever.”

Daniels also believes that the momentum gained will carry on throughout the summer and into the new season, although he concedes that after a difficult campaign a rest is needed.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s a funny period. This season has felt like forever, there’s been an awful lot of change,” he said.

“They must be exhausted, the coaching staff and the players.

“It’s been a strange season, but in a sense it feels like two seasons in one but that’s why fundamentally we’re thrilled at the football club because we know we have a vision for, not just how we want to play, but the people - and people matter the most.

“It seems trite sometimes but people matter the most. Joe Dunne doesn’t coach footballers, Joe Dunne coaches people and that’s why older players respond with great respect and dignity and younger ones want to learn because it’s people orientated and then the product follows.”


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