By Tony Leighton
Dagenham and Redbridge manager Wayne Burnett is on a mission to raise the stature of the Essex-based Sky Bet League 2 club.
The Daggers are in their seventh season as a Football League club, one of those campaigns having been spent in League 1 after promotion via the Play-Offs.
But Burnett, in his first full season in charge after being assistant to previous manager John Still for four years, feels that the club are still seen as minnows.
"We don't want to be known as 'little old Dagenham,' Burnett told football-league.co.uk. "We want to change people's perceptions about us.
"We feel we are establishing ourselves as a League club and we've got a very good group of players whose achievements this season have been tremendous.
"We were relegation favourites at the start of the season, but the way we've performed has surpassed a few people's expectations of us."
Burnett's team performed so well in the first half of the season that, heading into December, they were just two points below the Play-Off positions.
They have since slipped into mid-table but can still boast wins against several of the top seven, most notably doing the double over third in the table Rochdale.
"We were a bit of an unknown quantity early on in the season," said Burnett, "so teams were being expansive against us and we were catching them out.
"They didn't realise the quality of our players and underestimated us, but then they obviously started thinking, 'actually, Dagenham aren't that bad.'
"Now teams are being more cagey against us, they're putting lots of men behind the ball and making it difficult for us to break them down."
The Daggers are currently 13th in the table and a daunting nine points below the Play-Off places with 14 games of the season remaining.
Reaching the Play-Offs, which they did in 2010 - and went on to win the final against Rotherham United - looks a task too far for Burnett's men.
But the 42-year-old former Leyton Orient, Plymouth Argyle, Huddersfield Town and Grimsby Town midfielder has not given up hope.
And even if they fall short their finishing position will show a vast improvement on the last two seasons, in which they ended19th and 22nd in the table.
Burnett said: "We're getting to the business end of the season and the pressure it brings can have an amazing affect on people.
"It's so tight at the top end of the table and I expect teams to stumble. Whether we can take advantage remains to be seen, but we'll give it a go.
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