This time last year, the board at Bury sent out a second distress call in just over three months. Following the sacking of Chris Lucketti, the powers that be summoned Ryan Lowe for another caretaker spell to stop the rot. Struggling at the bottom of the table, Lowe was left with the mammoth task of trying to steer a side 12 points from safety away from dropping into the football league’s basement division – Ultimately, it wasn’t a feat he could achieve. But the drop through the trapdoor has reinvigorated the Manchester club with Lowe pulling the strings.
A summer of rebuilding began in earnest, with big earners shifted from the wage bill and Lowe left with the prospect of wheeling and dealing within the loan market and taking aim at any free agents. The capture of ex West Ham and MK Dons hitman Nicky Maynard has proven a masterstroke, with the club’s top scorer recently penning a deal to see the season out at Gigg Lane. His 11 league goals, joint highest with eccentric attacker Jay O’Shea, have proven the catalyst for Bury to bounce back following relegation. Getting the best from flying winger Danny Mayor has also proven key, along with the experience and know-how of ever-present veteran ‘keeper Joel Murphy and influential skipper Neil Danns. This is a squad with enough leadership and personality to make sure this fantastic campaign isn’t allowed to fizzle out.
The Shakers currently sit in second place, 6 points behind the surging Lincoln City albeit having played a game more. Although relegation last time out was a high probability when appointed, Lowe used the remainder of last season as a starting point for an attacking, progressive approach for his team. His team have been dubbed the ‘entertainers’ of League Two and are the leading scorers to date, netting an impressive 55 times in their 29 league fixtures so far. A club which has been ravaged by financial issues in recent times has been rebuilt in the image of their new manager, a young, innovative thinker determined to play the right way.
So far this season, Bury have used their impressive home form as the platform for their promotion push. From 14 home matches, they have won ten, drawn three and lost just the solitary fixture. They have only failed to score in one home fixture and are averaging a colossal 2.5 goals per home match. Their recent form has been scintillating under Lowe and they are currently on a 7-match unbeaten run since a boxing day reverse to promotion rivals Mansfield Town. Lowe’s men have started the new year in a rich vein of form and face a mammoth promotion clash with league leaders Lincoln City on Saturday in a fixture which could shape the remainder of their season.
The expansive, attacking style of the Shakers does come at a cost, with their defensive record being amongst the leakiest in the current top seven. In the previous weeks, Lowe has achieved a real coup by sealing the loan signing of Scott Wharton, an established defender at this level who spent the first half of the season on loan at promotion rivals Lincoln. Lowe has moved quickly to shore up a defence which has leaked 33 goals in their 29 fixtures so far. If Bury can tighten up their record at the back, and the goals continue to flow, the most remarkable of turnarounds in twelve months can be completed come May.
Although relegated clubs are often expected to compete for an immediate return, the job done by Lowe isn’t one to be underestimated. A near complete transformation has been undertaken and it is no surprise to most to see Ryan Lowe as the current odds on favourite for the Luton Town job a division up. For someone in his first managerial role, the way Lowe has re-moulded with the resources and players available to him makes him an attractive proposition for someone like the Hatters. For all of the style and substance behind their play, there’s also an element of steel evident which is further backed by the numbers. Much like Norwich City two leagues above them, Bury often like to have the final say with nearly a third of their total league goals scored after the 75th minute – A staggering 29.1%. The statistics very rarely lie, and the club are well poised to attempt to bounce back to League One at the first time of asking, a task they hope that Lowe will see through despite interest elsewhere.
Although Lowe is undoubtedly on the Luton Town radar and earning admiring glances from elsewhere, it should not be a foregone conclusion that any movement to secure his services will come to fruition. After all, Bury is very much Ryan Lowe’s club. Three separate spells served as a player, scoring 72 goals has earned Lowe cult hero status amongst the stands at Gigg Lane and makes any potential approach from Luton far from straight forward. Whatever happens in the near future, Lowe is now in the dug-out, forging a new element of admiration for his work leading the team instead of leading the line.
(All statistics & positions correct at the time article was first produced on 25.01.2019)
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