Shrimps season preview: Bentley wants Morecambe to stay course

Morecambe manager Jim Bentley hands out instructions to Laurence Wilson during training.
Morecambe manager Jim Bentley hands out instructions to Laurence Wilson during training.

Morecambe’s slide in the second half of last season was quite alarming.

Their flirtation with the drop meant the final weeks of the 2013-2014 campaign were far from the breeze they probably should have been.

It was dramatic but lacklustre finishes have been something of a feature of Jim Bentley’s three seasons in charge at the Globe Arena.

But in his fourth, he is determined to put it right.

“As soon as we finished last season we had a couple of staff meetings and addressed one or two things with regards to training and what we can do to the intensity of training, the timing of training and the location of training,” Bentley said.

“All little bits that we think we’ve identified that will help us in the second half of the season.

“I do think squad size plays a factor in that and last season we brought a couple in but they were a little stop-start.

“Beeley pulled his hamstring, Devitt got sent off, Ryan Edwards was later on coming in, we lost Drummond towards the end, but you can see after a hard pre-season and the efforts of the first half of the season that we looked a little bit jaded from Christmas onwards.

“If we all knew the answer we’d put our finger on it but we’ve identified areas that we think we can improve. Hopefully we’ll have a second half of the season like our first half of the season and start like we have done over the last couple of years.”

Bentley is hoping the final weeks of 2014-2015 will see his side kicking on rather than hanging on having secured safety far earlier than last season with it taking until the penultimate game of the season at AFC Wimbledon.

After that, the Shrimps boss is primarily hoping to improve on last season’s 54-point, 18th place League 2 finish, before aiming to shock some of the division’s fancied sides.

“First and foremost everyone says the magical 50 point mark is your safety number,” Bentley said.

“Over the last year or two it looks like it might have been a little bit more than that but we want to get there as soon as we can and then definitely improve on last season.

“That’s not negative, that’s being realistic, but anything can happen.

“We’ve got to look at teams like York last year, Yeovil in the league above when they got promoted and it can happen.

“York last season when they played us were struggling.

“We went to watch them the week before and the crowd were uptight, they were all over the manager and then they signed one or two players in January and they went from strength to strength and gained momentum which drove them into the play-offs.

“And I say it every year but we want to be more entertaining, we want to score more goals, we want to keep the back door shut a little bit better than we did last season and you never know in football.

“We’ll certainly give it our all as we always do and hopefully we can get to those first two targets with time to spare and reassess it then.”

More than anything, Bentley is wary of making too many predictions.

“We might start poorly and then finish strongly, who knows,” he said.

“Look at Accrington last year, they had one point after 12 games, no one knows and that’s why everyone loves the game because it’s so unpredictable.

“If we can get a start like we have done over the last three years with a little cup win in there that will be brilliant.”