A testing close-season lies ahead for Jim Bentley but the Shrimps boss told ADAM LORD his players can reflect on a job well done this campaign
As both a player and manager Jim Bentley has never shied away from a challenge.
The Morecambe manager’s latest task sees him having to cut an already tight budget for the third consecutive summer.
He admits negotiations with players have played a part in a poor run to end the campaign but says on the whole it has been a good sixth season in the Football League.
“It’s been an up and down season which I think is to be expected,” said Bentley.
“It started off great at Blackpool with a fantastic win and then we’ve had some good results on the road.
“But we were struggling before the Dagenham game at home which I think was a massive day for us.
“It was a great win and that kicked us on and people were talking about there being an outside chance of us making the play-offs.
“With one thing or another, players being told they’re leaving, one or two injuries and suspensions, we’ve wobbled a bit.
“But if you look at where we are, to have never flirted with relegation is a big achievement by everyone.”
It is a feat that the former Globe Arena skipper believes shouldn’t be underestimated.
“There was one game in particular where we started getting sucked in away at Dagenham when we were getting beaten 1-0,” he said.
“But that was the only time when I think we were starting to look over our shoulder.
“Every fan has a moan and wants to win the league playing like Barcelona but we’re not one of the bigger clubs at this level.
“I took over a team that finished fourth or fifth from bottom and we had to make cutbacks on and off the pitch and we’re going to have to do more in the future.
“I’m a winner and I still want to win everything I go into. I want to get into the higher reaches of the league, but people have got to be realistic.
“I think the majority of the fans know we’ve done okay this season all things considered.”
Part of that success has been down to the emergence of Jack Redshaw and Ryan Williams, the former scoring 16 goals in his first full season with the club.
The pair were plucked from non-league, a market Bentley knows he and assistant Ken McKenna will have to continue to tap into.
“We’ve had our fair share of lads that have come in and got injured and been out for the remainder of their contract or players come with high reputations and not doing it,” he said.
“And obviously it’s more of a gamble when you take players from non-league because you’re asking them to step up a level or two, but Jack and Ryan have done that.
“They’re still young lads and they’re rightly getting the pats on the back and I’m sure there will be a few clubs sniffing around them.
“It’s good that your hard work pays off because myself and Kenny go and watch an awful lot of football and do a lot of homework. We’ve got quite a few targets in non-league now that we might have to go after for next season because they fit in our budget restraints.
“We’ve just got to make sure we get the right ones.” Perhaps Bentley’s latest challenge may be his greatest, as he attempts to balance funds severely hit by disappointing crowds and still build a squad capable of competing in League 2.
But he’s confident he can do just that with the help of the town.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said.
“We need the whole town to get behind us and need the supporters that come to stay and stick with us and try and get a few people that might not come down to the Globe to come down.
“Without them, we won’t have a Football League club in years to come.
“I’m not being negative, because it’s my job to make sure we’re competitive and I’ll certainly do that, but it gets harder.
“But I love a challenge and I’m sure everyone involved with the football club will muck in to make sure we come out fighting in every game next season.”