Bury couldn’t have cut it any finer when it came to promotion in 2015. But David Flitcroft did what was necessary, guiding a side that had backed the manager big time into League One. Now that they’re there, the club have wasted no time in making statement signings and it could be an exciting season for the club.
Last Season: League Two (3rd)
Manager: David Flitcroft
GKs: Rob Lainton, Jack Ruddy
DFs: Craig Jones, Chris Hussey, Keil O’Brien, Joe Riley, Nathan Cameron, Peter Clarke, Matty Foulds, Marcus Poscha
MFs: Andrew Tutte, Kelvin Etuhu, Danny Mayor, Tom Soares, Scott Burgess, Jacob Mellis
FWs: Hallam Hope, Danny Rose, Ryan Lowe, Daniel Nardiello, Leon Clarke, Tom Pope, Anthony Dudley, Brayden Shaw
In: Leon Clarke (Wolves), Peter Clarke (Blackpool), Tom Pope (Port Vale), Jacob Mellis (Blackpool)
Out: Nicky Adams (Northampton Town), James McNulty (Rochdale), Pablo Mills (Released), Chris Sedgwick (Retired), Joe Thompson (Released)
First Six: Doncaster Rovers (A), Swindon Town (H), Fleetwood Town (H), Crewe Alexandra (A), Oldham Athletic (H), Walsall (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-4-2) Lainton – Riley, Cameron, Clarke, Hussey – Soares, Etuhu, Mellis, Mayor – Clarke, Pope
A word from…Chris Casper
On his long history with Bury I first had an affinity with the club back in 1983 when my Dad was the Assistant Manager/First Team Coach there so I’ve seen the club progress all the way through. When I left in January 2008, it was tough because when I first took over we were 92nd in the Football League and leaving the club in the Third Round of the FA Cup after getting a replay against Norwich, which was a pretty proud achievement.
We did some pretty decent things with the young players coming through with the likes of Nicky Adams, David Buchanan and Andy Parrish, who have all gone on to have good careers. Times were difficult, especially when I was youth team manager as people were losing their jobs and it was tough to see that. We had to play pretty tight and we did some wheeling and dealing to get some free transfers and loan signings in so it’s now great to see the club in a much better financial position. It’s good to see some young players coming through now as well because when I was there the likes of David Nugent, Colin Kazim-Richards and Simon Whaley kept the club going and that’s the foundations for a successful club.
On moving into Carrington You’re only as good as your first team, but your first team can only be as good as the environment it has got. When you’ve not got a great training ground, it’s difficult to get out to training sometimes because of the weather etc. To know that you’ve got really good facilities and playing surfaces on a daily basis, it does make a massive difference and it shows the ambition of the club to move forward with them securing those facilities. Also, it acts as a sort of recruitment tool to attract good players with the likes of Leon and Peter Clarke moving to Bury in the summer and I’m sure they’ll have been shown around the facilities and been impressed by them.
On the job David Flitcroft has done and summer recruitment David should take an awful lot of the credit, he’s done very well to get promotion. Again, you’re only as good as the people around you which includes the players, the staff and the fans. The fans stayed loyal to the club during the hard times and they deserve some success. I remember some pretty tough days for the fans and I used to feel for them because, as I say, I’ve got an affinity with the club from the early 80s. It’s good to see those fans enjoying the success as promotion is a club thing and it should be celebrated like that.
You’re only as good as your strikers really and when you’ve got strikers like that, you can only play two so it’s going to be competitive and that’s one of the things the manager with have to manage. They’ll all want to play, they’ve all got goals in them and it’s a good problem to have. When you’ve got a tight budget, you’re lucky when you can bring in someone like Andy Bishop but when you’ve got multiple strikers who can score goals, which will play a major part in the club next year. With Peter Clarke, a player who has multiple promotions on his CV, he will add stability to the back and he will help the young players like Marcus Poscha and Matty Foulds develop.
On what it takes to succeed The first thing is they’ve got to have a work ethic because they’ve got to match the manager and if they don’t, they won’t succeed. The players have to match the manager’s work ethic, his desire to succeed and that’s the most important thing. Then you’ve got to have the hunger, whether you’re an older player or a younger player. Those are the traits you are looking for with the players you’re bringing in. I had players in the dressing room that were older than myself but they were great with me and they supported me. I really enjoyed my two-and-a-half years at Bury and we had a good team spirit, and that can take you a long way as well in the lower leagues.
The first three games will be tough tests as they’re three good clubs. League One will be a competitive league next season as they’re some big clubs in there and you’ve probably got to break it down a bit and not look too far ahead. Everyone expects to win games. David will want to win, the Chairman will want to win and the players will want to win. Looking at the opening three games, it will be great to get through in the cup as well as potentially getting four points from Doncaster and Swindon. It’s all about being realistic, but if it doesn’t happen then it’s a matter of sticking to your principles and not panicking too much. In my second season, we lost our first four games of the season and then went on to win the next six so it’s one of those things where you have to stick to your principles. There will be ups and downs in the season so it’s important to stick to what you believe in at the end of the day.
On aims this season I’m sure the ambition will be to get promoted again, otherwise everyone will be wasting their time. There’s no point in saying we’ll try to consolidate, you’ve got to aim for the stars and you might reach the moon. A good season could be classed as consolidating their place in League One, but, without saying it, I’m sure David and the Chairman will be looking to be successful by gaining promotion or at least a play-off place. There’s no reason why they can’t achieve either of those things because when you bring in those sort of players, they’re not looking to sit in League One and they’ll be looking to bounce back into the Championship.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: The club have made some impressive signings this summer and it wouldn’t be the first time someone has achieved back-to-back promotions. Bury could get play-offs, anything more might be tough.
Key Player: Tom Pope – His loss is Port Vale’s gain. Fantastic in League Two, Pope has the experience and know how to make the step up with a team that will create plenty of chances for him to take.
One to Watch: Joe Riley – He’s only been there since January but the 23-year-old wasted no time in making himself a first team player. He’s definitely got a bright future ahead, particularly at this level.