Next stop top 10 as Morecambe boss Bentley aims to defy odds again
It look likes word might be getting out about Morecambe FC.
Despite upsetting the odds to stay in League 2 year after year The Shrimps are always ranked amongst the teams most likely to go down.
This summer however, the bookies seem to have seen something they like.
“We’ve always been first or second favourites for relegation but we must be doing something right because we’re third now,” says boss Jim Bentley with a smile.
All signs do point to a positive campaign as the club’s Wembley winning captain looks to improve on 11th place in League 2 last season.
However Bentley, entering his fifth season in the Globe Arena hotseat, knows full well that Morecambe are one of the underdogs and looking too far ahead is a dangerous game, especially following the departure of key man Jack Redshaw to Blackpool.
“We are a small club at this level and for a club like us to finish in the top half last season was great,” says the 39-year-old.
“(Jack) Redshaw’s going to be a big miss for us and with the other players like (Padraig) Amond and (Mark) Hughes leaving I think it’s 22 goals that we’ve got to recover.
“With the players that we’ve brought in we’re hoping that we can do that.
“Kev (Ellison) and Mullers (Paul Mullin) will chip in with their fair share and we want more from our midfielders and central defenders.
“Hopefully we’ll gather those goals up and be as strong as we were at the back where Baz (Roche) coming back is a big boost for us too.
“Everyone’s bigging us up within but it’s important that we keep our feet on the ground and don’t get our expectations too high.
“We’ve done well in pre-season, our recruitment’s been good, the spirit’s good, all the things that you need to have a good season, but you don’t know what’s happening elsewhere.
“All we can do is affect ourselves but it’s so far, so good and we’ll do all we can to have a good season.”
League 2 does look as competitive as ever with Portsmouth the favourites to finally get their house in order and begin an ascent back up the Football League.
“It’s a tough league,” says Bentley.
“The likes of Portsmouth, Oxford and Cambridge United are all really going for it.
“Then there’s others a little bit behind them who are showing great ambition, paying out transfer fees and big wages.
“There’s no easy games but we’ve proven in the past that we’re a match for anyone.
“We’ve just got to try and get those consistency levels up. It will be tough but we’re ready to embrace the challenge that’s coming our way.”
The calibre of the division, with several strong sides coming down from League 1 and up from the Conference, means Bentley is well aware how monumental a feat reaching the play-offs would be.
“It would be an unbelievable achievement for us to get there,” he says.
“I’m not being negative it’s just a very tough task for us.
“When you’re one of the bottom budget wise and when you’re one of the bottom attendance wise it becomes very difficult.
“You’re coming up against big city teams with big backing, big support and big ambition.
“But last season we finished above a lot of those big clubs and hopefully it’s the same again.
“The first port of call is to get ourselves safe as quick as possible and then build from there and try and improve on last season.”