Roche targets survival ahead of new season

Barry Roche.
Barry Roche.

Barry Roche believes Football League survival should be Morecambe’s target as they prepare for a 10th season in League Two.

The Shrimps have consistently punched above their weight since promotion into League Two in 2007 under Sammy McIlroy.

Despite being a club with one of the smallest budgets and attendances, McIlroy and, over the last six years, Jim Bentley, have always succeeded in preserving Football League status - sometimes against all odds.

“The ambition, whether some people like it or not, is to keep Morecambe in the Football League,” Roche told BBC Radio Lancashire.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been a smaller club than most of the teams, with a smaller budget and a smaller fanbase. Anything above that is a bonus.”

Last season saw the Shrimps finish 18th following an eventful campaign both on and off the pitch.

On it, they topped the table in August, lost seven straight home league games between September and November, took 15 points from eight matches in February and then promptly lost their next seven.

Some of those results included four points against champions Portsmouth, as well as home wins over promoted Plymouth Argyle and Blackpool.

Roche said: “That’s the good thing about this division; anybody can beat anybody, which we showed when we got to the play-offs.

“We’ve got to do what we do every season and get off to a good start.

“I believe we do have players who are good enough to make a challenge but what let us down last season was we didn’t have the squad, and that caught up with us.

“We had a fantastic February, got a few injuries after that, and I think tiredness was a key factor.

“I feel we had the nucleus of a very good squad, but you need to be able to take those players out when you feel they need a rest.

“There were times last season when the gaffer couldn’t do that; you’re looking at the squad available at times and we couldn’t fill the bench.

“When we wanted to give a key player a rest, we couldn’t do that.”