WHEN we look back at Jim Bentley’s first season in charge we will certainly have plenty to talk about.
There were some great highs, some lows, and plenty to ponder for the future both for Bentley and the club itself.
If we start with the positives, the early season form was pretty sensational as the Shrimps stormed to the top of the league totally out of the blue despite an opening day home defeat against Barnet.
The 6-0 win over Crawley was undoubtedly the highlight of the season as sulky Steve Evans just didn’t know where to put himself as his title favourites were ripped apart by a sensational performance in front of the Hairy Bikers and the club’s lucky mascot Clem from the BBC who paid his first visit for a league game since the equally sensational 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth a couple of seasons earlier.
An excellent defence with Nick Fenton looking an inspired summer purchase, and brilliant goals from Lewis Alessandra and the always entertaining Kevin Ellison in a 2-0 victory against Aldershot made us feel that nothing could go wrong.
And when Ellison produced his own, personal goal of the season contest with late strikes to earn points at Torquay and Cheltenham we were pretty much in dreamland.
But then reality bit and things got harder for the club when we went on a really bad run after throwing away a 3-0 lead against Rotherham. I remember saying at the time that games like that can have a major impact on your confidence and it proved to be the case.
Then we saw some of the negatives.
The Shrimps bossed some games for long periods but struggled to find the killer pass too often and were left relying on Ellison to come up with something special.
And while Morecambe struggled to create chances the other teams kept scoring from all sorts of distances, like Scott McGleish did for Bristol Rovers just after Morecambe went 2-1 up.
Overall though I don’t think it would be too harsh for me to say the home form, for the second season in succession, has been the Shrimps’ downfall.
They have now won just 12 out of 46 games there and it doesn’t take a genius to tell you that if they are to make any sort of promotion push in the future that has to improve.
With that in mind I feel sorry for some of the club’s regular home fans who have missed some fantastic away displays such as the ones at Cheltenham early in the season and more latterly Oxford.
Overall though I think Bentley can be happy with his first season in charge.
I think he has proved to be a superb man manager who has put together a tight and committed squad that really works hard for each other and will never say die.
There is no doubt the club is going in the right direction but there is also no doubt that the league will be even stronger next year and they we will have to take steps to make sure they are ready for that.
The teams that come down will be strong and of the teams that come up Fleetwood will definitely have cash to spend.
Plymouth won’t struggle again and there may well only be a couple of teams with lower budgets than Morecambe’s so Bentley will have to make sure he buys well in the summer and build on the squad that he has so far put together so well.
The squad does have a tremendous togetherness but it does need strengthening.
For me there is no doubt Morecambe need a goalscorer as influential as Phil Jevons was a couple of years ago and with Stewart Drummond set to take more of a back seat next year someone who can boss the midfield and dictate games is a must.
Bentley will undoubtedly have learned a great deal from his first season in charge and he will know better than anyone that this is a vital summer for him in terms of getting in the right players at the right price.