Morecambe Season Preview

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The Football Lab spoke to Morecambe fan Oliver Roby. You can follow him on Twitter @Oliver_Roby. Here, he discusses Jim Bentley’s style of management, the return of Laurance Wilson, and the team’s recurring habit of rescuing points after going behind.
This will be Jim Bentley’s fourth season as boss. Is he a rare example of a manager who has made that switch from being ‘one of the lads’ as a player, to the authoritative man in charge?

 

I think it’s been a good transition but I wouldn’t say he’s completely removed himself from the ‘one of the lads’ tag – which is not a bad thing. His man management skills are helped no end by the relationship he has forged with all of his players over the years. But, having been a club legend as a player, everyone at the club looks up to him, which keeps the players motivated and on their toes. He’s the ideal man for the role as manager at this club.

You seem to have a habit of starting games poorly, and then coming from behind. Do you need to be more solid from the outset?

Being solid from the outset would improve our fortunes massively and that is definitely something the players and management need to work on ahead of the new campaign. But, the fact that the players have shown determination to come back so often is something positive to build upon.

Centre-back Chris McCready and full-back Robbie Threlfall have, by all accounts, had poor seasons. Was it right to let them go?

Both were fantastic lads to speak to and both always gave 100%. But, I feel it was right to let both go. Threlfall struggled with injury in the early stages of the season and his campaign never really recovered from that. As for McCready, his performances weren’t bad but began to tail off towards the end of the season and, given his age, I feel it was the right decision to let him go and bring in some fresher talent.

Defender Alan Goodall played in the play-off final with Fleetwood back in May, helping them to promotion. What are your thoughts on this signing?

I think Alan Goodall is an excellent signing. Versatility has to be a big part of any player Jim Bentley brings in given the small playing budget. He is a competent left back, so provides competition in that department, while he has shown his ability as a midfielder for Fleetwood, so he is a good signing and definitely adds something different to the squad.

Left-back Laurence Wilson had a successful 3 years with the Shrimps not long ago. Are you pleased he’s returned to the club?

Wilson has been fantastic servant to the club in the past and has already said how pleased he is to be back at the Globe. His pre season performances have, so far, been impressive and I think he is a upgrade on Robbie Threlfall, so it’s another good addition.

Teenage defender Aaron McGowan has been given a 2 year contract. Does this suggest the manager intends to give him a chance this season?

Aaron McGowan became Morecambe’s youngest ever player in the 2012-13 season and much is hoped from him. He stepped up to be the captain of the reserves last year and performed well when he got a run out on the final day of the season. I think he could be ready for first team football this year, and Jim Bentley, by the looks of his pre season team selections and the two year deal, seems to be backing him all the way. This could be a big year for the teenager.

35-year-old winger Kevin Ellison has scored 36 goals over the last 3 years, while Stewart Drummond’s new contract will take him into a 17th season with Morecambe. Whatever Giggs and Scholes can do…

Both are big fan favourites and, despite their advancing years, their performance levels have remained high and both still offer a lot to this side. Ellison is hoping for a few more years at this level yet and Drummond was sorely missed in the last few months of the season when he was unavailable through injury, so both will be vital parts of the Morecambe machine this season. So you could say they are indeed the Giggs and Scholes of League Two!

Padraig Amond has scored 11 goals in his first season with the club. Are you hoping to see more from him?

Amond was one of the better players in the squad last year, despite playing out of position, on the wing, for much of the season. He sees his best football coming as a central striker, but, wherever he plays, he gives his all. If he can replicate his form from last year, I’m sure he and the fans will be happy.

Striker Jack Redshaw scored 8 goals last season, but is he more effective when starting, or as a substitute?

Redshaw was one of the shining lights of the 2012-13 season but an injury in pre season halted his progress. The arrival of a big striker in the form of Jack Sampson saw Morecambe’s style of play alter slightly in the early months, producing some fantastic form. When Redshaw returned, the style didn’t quite suit him but he still showed flashes of class to return with eight goals. With his pace, he perhaps operates better off the bench, but given the two different styles the two Jacks offer, it gives Jim Bentley good options and it may be an idea to base the decision on who starts as the main striker around how the opposition defence is put together.

With most bookmakers, Morecambe are 5/1 for relegation. Where will you finish?

Morecambe were relegation candidates last year but I tipped them for a good year and this would have been on the cards without a dramatic dip in form form towards the end of the year. The squad looks stronger this season and the play offs should be the target, as it is for many teams. But, a top half finish would be a pleasing campaign. I believe this side will be well clear of any relegation fears in 2015.

TFL Verdict

Given Morecambe’s awful post-Christmas form, the club hasn’t changed enough of the playing staff to re-invigorate the side. Relegation beckons.

(Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morecambe_F.C.)