Morecambe boss Jim Bentley has worked hard off the field this summer to assemble a squad capable of shocking a few sides in League 2 on a reduced budget. Adam Lord spoke to the Shrimps manager about his expectations for the new season.
Ask Jim Bentley to reel off the strong sides in League 2 and it takes the Morecambe manager a while to stop.
Thankfully, the Shrimps boss, his staff and players are more than up for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a tough league again,” said Bentley.
“Portsmouth have signed a lot of players, it looks like they’ve put their financial difficulties to one side, but they’re going to a be a force without a doubt.
“Fleetwood have made some great signings with an ambitious manager and chairman so they should be up there.
“Chesterfield have a good manager in Paul Cook who I know well, they’ve made some very good signings from the league above.
“Northampton and Cheltenham are always up there, I fancy Oxford, they’ve made some good signings and Bristol Rovers are a big club.
“It’s endless. It’s going to be a very difficult league but it’s a challenge we’re all looking forward to.”
Rewind to April and May and the departures of key players such as Nick Fenton and Will Haining meant some were looking at the summer with trepidation.
But it has been a largely positive pre-season with strong additions followed up by impressive performances on the field.
“When you lose your captain and your vice captain and a lot of experienced lads, you’re going to be a little bit wary and there was a little bit of doom and gloom to be honest,” said Bentley.
“But we worked hard and we’ve met with players and identified the ones we wanted to get in and we’ve done an alright job and got some good players in.
“We’ve built that togetherness up straight away from day one and from all the training sessions, the time around the ground and the pre-season games, you can see that they’ve got a good morale and they’re willing to learn, they’re willing to work hard for each other and we’ve put in some good performances on the pitch.
“Overall the last couple of weeks have been quite positive and I think you can see that around the place, it’s nice and vibrant at the minute, it’s building nicely.”
It is a younger looking Shrimps side that Bentley hopes can develop as one.
“When you sign younger players it gives you that little bit of youthful enthusiasm,” he said.
“I think they’ve all come in and all shown in patches what good players they are and hopefully when you get a group of young players playing together maybe one or two will fulfil their potential but it’d be great if they could all grow as a team together.
“If they can do that you never know what could happen.”
In terms of targets, the Shrimps’ Wembley-winning skipper turned manager just wants his side to improve on last year.
“They’ll all have their own personal goals and as far as I’m concerned we’ll need a bit of lady luck on our side with injuries and suspensions,” he said.
“Losing Jack Redshaw is a massive blow and we can’t afford to lose anymore really.
“Personally I want to improve on last season, I don’t think there’s any point saying the magical 50-point mark for relegation because that was blown out of the water last year.
“I think it’s just a case of improving on the points total we reached last year which would be a very good achievement.”