Last summer saw a complete upheaval of the ownership at Bury Football Club with local businessman Stewart Day taking over the club, clearing all debts and bringing a new hope for all related to the Shakers. The long standing ownership of Brian Fenton and the board of directors had it’s high point when gaining promotion to League One in the 2010/2011 season, however since had not managed to build on that success. After just one season in League One, the following season saw relegation back to League Two and a reality check for the club.
The departure of Richie Barker to Crawley Town at the start of the 2012-2013 season after a solid 14th place finish in our first season led to the appointment of Peter Shirtliff (who was sacked after no wins in the opening eight games) and subsequently Kevin Blackwell. The latter appeared at the time to be a coup for the club with his experience of managing at Championship level and play-off finals.
However, his appointment seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the old ownership team. With Blackwell constantly blaming the finances of the club and lack of quality players for the poor results, they were seemingly unable to do anything about it. Admittedly a transfer embargo towards the end of the season imposed on us by the Football League for an unpaid loan didn’t help, however Blackwell seemed unable to motivate the players and the few signings he was able to make left many scratching their heads.
Also, his relationship with the players and the fans was deteriorating, not helped by his constant negative attitude in post match press conferences, for example openly calling some of the squad ‘garbage’. Relegation from League One eventually came at the end of that season without us really putting up a fight.
During last summer the takeover took place and talk of a ‘revolution’ at the club had everyone looking forward to this season and maybe repeating the promotion of three years ago. The new chairman restored financial stability and the transfer embargo was finally lifted, all debts being paid back including those owed to the Football League. He also gave a vote of confidence to Blackwell and gave him a chance to build his own squad, therefore having no excuses if it didn’t work out. During the summer transfer window several new faces arrived at the club and almost a completely new team started the first game of this season.
Despite the new team that Blackwell had constructed, the fortunes on the pitch did not change and at the beginning of this season, with a run of no win in seven games from the beginning of September, he was sacked on the October 14. This led to his assistant and former player Ronnie Jepson taking over and apparently being told he would be manager until January at least.
However, it appeared that once another ex-player in David Flitcroft had showed his interest in the job after being released from his position as manager of Barnsley, the opportunity was too good to turn down. This led to Ronnie Jepson being released from his contract and Flitcroft taking over as manager on December 9.
Ronnie Jepson appeared to bring a little more motivation and fight into the team but the results did not improve as two wins in his ten games in charge showed. There was a clear lack of managerial experience and tactical knowledge required to manage at this level, which was a shame as it would have been great to see a former hero return to do well as manager.
David Flitcroft has since restored some of the positivity at the club that had been lost from the when the original takeover was completed. He has been a popular appointment with the fans and has shown he understands this level of football and what it takes to succeed. Although only being in charge for just over a month the playing squad has seen many coming and goings and an overall improvement in quality. He has outlined that the damage done by Blackwell will have to be repaired and has gone about it quickly.
It will take some time for Flitcroft to build his own team and get his ideas across to them but I hope the fans give him a chance to do so as I feel we have the right man to take us forward. Just last weekend he mentioned shouts from the stand above the dug out of ‘get it forward!’ and that these are a result of a year of poor tactics and players.
He is attempting to play football the right way and make us a team that is firstly hard to beat but will also create chances. The players he has brought in, such as Daniel Nardiello and Pablo Mills, are of a much higher standard and with him and Stewart Day I think we can attract more of the same. First and foremost survival this season is imperative and I think Flitcroft understands that, shown by him recruiting almost a completely new back four.
Now that we have ridden the storm of the Blackwell era, with Day and Flitcroft I think the club can keep its Football League status and build towards more next season. Now, where were we with that revolution?
Written by Ross Worsley, We Are Going Up’s Bury blogger
Ross tweets at @Wor_s