Jim Bentley’s a Morecambe man through and through, playing for the club from 2002 until 2011 when he took over as manager over the club. The club have shown their commitment to a long-term project, giving Bentley the time needed to build a solid squad and perhaps challenge for League One status this season.
Last Season: League Two (11th)
Manager: Jim Bentley
GKs: Barry Roche
DFs: Shaun Beeley, Aaron McGowan, Adam Dugdale, Ryan Edwards, Alan Goodall, Laurence Wilson, Andy Parrish, Chris Doyle
MFs: Alex Kenyon, Jamie Devitt, Peter Murphy, Lee Molyneux, Kevin Ellison, Nathan Bondswell, Aaron Wildig, Andrew Fleming, Charlie Bailey
FWs: Tom Barkhuizen, Paul Mullin, Jack Kelleher
In: Tom Barkhuizen (Blackpool), Adam Dugdale (Tranmere Rovers), Lee Molyneux (Tranmere Rovers), Peter Murphy (Wycombe Wanderers), Aaron Wildig (Shrewsbury Town)
Out: Padraig Amond (Grimsby Town), Andreas Arestidou (Released), Stewart Drummond (Retired), Mark Hughes (Stevenage), Marcus Marshall (Grimsby Town), Jack Sampson (Macclesfield Town), Ryan Williams (Brentford), Andrew Wright (Southport), Jack Redshaw (Blackpool)
First Six: Hartlepool United (A), Accrington Stanley (H), Wycombe Wanderers (H), Portsmouth (A), Notts County (H), Yeovil Town (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-5-1) Roche – Beeley, Parrish, Dugdale, Wilson – Devitt, Kenyon, Wildig, Murphy, Ellison – Barkhuizen
A word from…Chris McCready
On finishing his career at Morecambe It was nice to be honest. It was a good four years for me professionally and personally. I enjoyed the club, the town, the players, fans, staff etc. It was a great way to end my career, to feel valued and to be playing regularly and I like to think I did a good job there.
On the challenge of getting promoted It’s a big challenge really, especially League Two. It always seems very unpredictable in regards to who will be up there and the bigger teams coming down from League One. It’s always so tight and you can easily get sucked in at the wrong end which makes it not quite as enjoyable if you’re pushing forward at the top.
On a long-term plan I think it’s the best way, the club has a wider responsibility to a lot of people, the community and to jeopardise all that for one successful season isn’t worth it. Morecambe run within their means and I agree with that on a personal basis. It presents other challenges in that budgets are tight but they do a very decent job of maximising things from that.
I’d like to think they can look at the play-offs. If you’re there around the top ten come Christmas you can really push on during the latter half of the season. I think that’s how it will go for them, they’ve got some really good players, a good mix of youth and experience and I think they’re going to have a good year. There’s good stability, Jim (Bentley) has been there a while and that consistently really helps things, he’s not constantly dodging a bullet and the players know what to expect.
This is only my opinion but I think around three quarters of the teams start with the aim of getting promoted but they get lost in grand plans and lose the consistency and forget to just do the day job. That’s the ultimate aim of course but to get there you’ve got to perform week in, week out and push each other to play your best every week.
The one time I did get promoted at Crewe, it was down to the forwards. Variably across the four leagues the teams that go up have the best forwards, the biggest goal threats. Everyone wants to set up to not concede but you’re not going to win 1-0 every week, where a club finishes is a reflection of your strikers.
On the key players They released a few players and Jack Sampson, they’ve got Kevin Ellison too who’s a fantastic player. He chips in with whether he’s playing out wide or down the middle; there are certainly goals in the team. It’s difficult on the sideline because you no longer know what the manager’s thinking but I think he’s right to bring in experienced players with some pedigree.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Morecambe have lost several key players, including strikers Jack Redshaw and Jack Sampson. A few good players have been brought in but it’s difficult to see any huge improvement in the squad, but one or two more signings could change that.
Key Player: Kevin Ellison – The one true constant in the Morecambe side since Jim Bentley took over. At 36, Ellison is still going strong and will have to be in good form given the loss of players up front. His experience will also be huge when things get tough.
One to Watch: Tom Barkhuizen – The 22-year-old spent a brief spell on loan at Morecambe last season and will now bare the large brunt of responsibility up front and he has age on his side to improve and grow into the role. He struggled at Blackpool but may flourish at a team doing better in the league.