BIG INTERVIEW: Jim Bentley confident Morecambe will upset the odds again
Jim Bentley would be forgiven for being downcast heading into the new League 2 campaign.
The Shrimps legend has just come through his most difficult time in five years in the Globe Arena hot seat.
A promising first half of the season evaporated spectacularly last time around, four wins in 2016 seeing Bentley’s men finish 21st in League 2 with their lowest ever Football League points total.
The Wembley winning skipper isn’t one to dwell on things however and after the biggest squad shake up of his time in charge he is ready and raring to go again.
“We’re written off every year but I think we’ve got to get some credit,” says Bentley.
“We haven’t got a big fanbase but our supporters are loyal and get behind their town’s team.
“As players and as a management staff we’ll be giving it our all.
“We will have our ups and downs. Sometimes we’ll come up short, sometimes we’ll be talking about little decisions that have cost us on the day and sometimes we’ll play well and win games of football.
“We’re always confident though, we’ve done well over the last five years.
“Again this year we’ve been written off, favourites for relegation, blah, blah, it’s always the same and we’ve heard it all before.
“We’ll upset a few this season and we’re confident we can do well.”
Never lacking in belief, Bentley speaks with authority despite his side’s end to the previous season and other clubs making some impressive signings.
“I say it every year but it’s a strong league,” he says.
“There are good players and good teams but so are we.
“We’ve shown that in large parts of pre-season.
“There’s been a large turnover of players. We’re coming off the back of a disappointing season but that stands for nothing.
“We’re re-energised, positive, looking forward and confident we can do well.
“That’s how it’s been, you can really sense it amongst the players.”
As ever, the fourth longest serving manager in the Football League is first looking for his side to better last season’s disappointments.
“First and foremost success has got to be an improvement on last season,” Bentley says.
“Every season that you go into you’re always aiming high.
“You’re not going to go into a season and say ‘if we can finish third from bottom it’s a successful season’.
“No. Our aim is to win as many games of football as we can and finish as high up the league as we can.
“We’ve seen it in the past, Accrington our rivals how well they did last season (reaching the League 2 play-offs).
“The likes of (Premier League champions) Leicester and that, no-one knows what’s going to happen in football.
“We’ll need a bit of luck, we’ll need our key players to play well and if you put that with a good spirit and togetherness amongst the group, they’re fit and organised and willing to go over that white line and give it a right good go for the shirt, who knows how far up the division you can finish?
“That’s the attitude we’ll be taking into the season.”
A fine season would be fitting for the club as they celebrate their 10th in the Football League.
It is an achievement close to Bentley’s heart, a club man who lifted the trophy at Wembley as Morecambe reached the promised land for the first time in their history back in 2007.
“I played a part when we went up as the captain of the side and now I’m the manager,” he says.
“I’ve had a great time here, I love the place and I only want what’s best for the football club.
“It’s nice and we’re an established League 2 club now.
“People have got to look at that and realise how well we’ve done as a football club.
“As soon as we were promoted we were written off straight away because of the size of the fanbase.
“We’re up against some big sides at this level but it’s not all about that.
“We’ve got players who are willing to battle for everyone point. We know we have to do it and it’ll be the same this season.”