'˜Little old Morecambe': Bentley ready to upset the odds again
Little old Morecambe.
It is a phrase long-serving Shrimps manager Jim Bentley knows all too well.
Another summer, another build-up to a League Two campaign where his side are being tipped for a return to non-league football.
Again the former Wembley-winning skipper has had to get creative in the transfer market while others hoping to be at the sharp end have splashed the cash.
Having celebrated 10 years in the Football League in May, threats to end that run seem to be coming from all over. Coventry, Chesterfield, Port Vale and Swindon are all big clubs coming down from League One.
While from the National League come Lincoln, whose FA Cup run showed what they are all about, and big-spending Forest Green Rovers.
But Bentley, also well aware plenty of other clubs have got their act together over the summer, has made a managerial career out of ripping up the form book time and again.
“I think it will be a tough league, very tough,” said the popular 41-year-old, now past six years in the Globe Arena hotseat.
“It’s probably the toughest it’s been because you’ve got the teams like Mansfield, Notts County, big clubs at the level, who have struggled over the last couple of years but have shown real ambition this year.
“The teams that have come down, the likes of Coventry and Chesterfield, they seem to be investing and doing good business.
“And if you look at the teams that have come up Lincoln have got a lot of money, Forest Green have, and again they are investing on the back of promotion.
“Every club seems to be kicking on.
“I think the league will be very competitive but we’ll try and do the business and upset some people, that’s what we’re looking to do.”
The reality is though, not only have Morecambe survived year in, year out, but they’ve more often than not done it with time to spare, usually thanks to a fast start in the early months of the campaign.
Surprise results against top sides have become par for the course with an increasing League Two nous and the experience of Kevin Ellison, Garry Thompson, Michael Rose and Barry Roche among others likely to work in the Shrimps’ favour.
There are question marks of course, with plenty of unproven players or those with points to prove in a thin squad.
But Bentley, as ever, is backing his boys to be batting off doom and gloom pre-season predictions again this time next year.
“Everyone has us as the favourites to go down every year but we’re never really been in a relegation battle, certainly in the last six years I’ve been manager,” he said.
“We’ve upset teams along the way and we’re always called ‘lilttle old Morecambe’ with not much expected of us but we’ve proven time and time again that we can take points off anyone.
“The stats show that over the years.
“Although we’ll be one of the smallest clubs in it and all that, we’ve got enough about us.
“We know the division, we’ve got good players.
“We’ll need a little bit of luck but we all want to do well and that’s what we’re striving to do.”
The reality is that with Bentley at the helm once again and last season’s off-the field problems settling down, despite those odds, few should bet against the Shrimps proving that ‘little old Morecambe’ aren’t going anywhere.