Bettering Stan the Man: Part 2

Peter Taylor is back with Bury. It’s been a short while so uou can find Part 1 here. Can he succeed with the survival bid but with more time to spare than Stan Ternent did for Bury in the ‘old’ Division One? Let’s find out…

23 goals from 29 games had me ranked in 23rd in that particular metric, but thankfully, the only one that really mattered was being 14 points clear of the relegation zone when entering the final third of the campaign. A battling point accrued across the Pennines at Bradford City wasn’t capitalised upon, and the reverse fixture against Man City predictably ended with a heavy defeat. Frank Clark’s virtual management was proving to be a lot more effective than his real-life efforts, and the season tickets of the blue supporters at Maine Road remained intact.

Two encounters pitting the Shakers against north-eastern giants would also yield ‘nil’ in the goals for column. Once more, there was plenty of effort shown from the players but little craft or endeavour that could unlock the expensively assembled defences.

Even with a fresh-faced Robbie Keane in their ranks, Wolves weren’t exactly troubling the promotion contenders, although a home game against my shot-shy performers represented the perfect opportunity to at least put a bit of pressure on the top six…1

It’s difficult not to pretend that I wasn’t disappointed; not because I expected a victory, but somehow contriving to score three and not even escaping Molineux with a single point. Alex Notman temporarily found his shooting boots, only adding to the frustration I felt.

Oxford United were next up, and Bury reverted to type, grinding out yet another stalemate to just about keep parity with games played and points gained. This actually represented the start of a fine run, with four consecutive clean sheets. Even with the (rightly) highly rated Dean Kiely in goal, that’s no mean feat. There were crucial wins over ‘local’ rivals Stockport County and Crewe Alexandra (both of which came up with the Greater Manchester outfit the season prior). That had the table looking like this with 10 matches remaining:

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Easily the most impressive result to date was over likely champions Nottingham Forest, however…

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Where did that come from?! To keep the likes of the volatile Pierre Van Hooijdonk quiet and amass that margin of victory were both things I didn’t expect. David Thompson ran the show from the right flank, scoring once and laying on a wicked cross for Tony Ellis to tap home. Whilst wins were rare, defeats were as well, and the gap had widened to 15 points with nine to play, and six short of Stan the Man’s total.

Besting Tranmere Rovers back at Gigg Lane made it four wins from four in March, but it still somehow wasn’t enough to secure me the Manager of the Month award. Little Bury were once again being cruelly ignored.

Second tier football all but assured, some of the players became a little lackadaisical, and even worse, the majority of the loanees were recalled by their parent clubs with a significant number of games still to be played. Three more blanks were drawn, threatening to take the gloss a little off the collective efforts of the threadbare roster.

Thankfully, they rallied with the tantalising prospect of a holiday to Magaluf dangled before them. A creditable draw at home to Huddersfield was quickly followed by a rare triumph on the road at Charlton, and the subsequent defeat versus Ipswich was quickly forgotten on final day with a comfortable win over Stoke.

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My utilisation of three outfield players in the available sub slots has not yet cost me, and today was no exception. That left the final table looking like this:

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Top of the bottom half can only be regarded as a success against the first part of the challenge I set myself. The only stat I didn’t improve compared to Ternent was the goals scored column, falling three short of equalling his meagre tally.

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And a summary of the fixtures:

Come back soon for Part 3, where I set myself a new challenge for the second season, pitting myself against a certain Neil Warnock…

Peter will be back soon with part 3 but in the meantime you can follow him on Twitter @BurymeinExile

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  1. Pingback: Bettering Stan the Man: Part 3 | CM 97/98

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