COVERING Bury FC may not be the most glamorous job in Manchester football, but I always joke that there’s never a dull moment. Certainly not this week.
It began with a comprehensive home defeat by Blackburn last Saturday. The Shakers, still with player-coach Ryan Lowe as caretaker boss, actually made a positive start but it wasn’t practically game over after they went behind on 12 minutes as they offered very little. Rovers ran out 3-0 winners, keeping Bury bottom of League One.
Never mind, it was only table-topping Shrewsbury next up on Tuesday night! Yet the Shakers managed to stun the league leaders 1-0, with Greg Leigh rounding off a superb team goal to give them a thoroughly-deserved victory.
Earlier that day, Chris Lucketti had emerged as the odds-on favourite to be named Lee Clark’s permanent successor and whether it was the imminent arrival of a new boss, Lowe’s change in formation or a much more vocal home crowd that inspired Bury’s best performance of the season, who knows. At least they had stopped the rot.
Asked if he would still be in charge for today’s match at relegation rivals Northampton, Lowe joked: “I bloody hope so after that!”
But it was too little too late for Lowe’s prospects of getting the job permanently. It was his sixth game in charge and not even beating the league leaders was enough to wipe out the memory of an embarrassing FA Cup exit against non-league Woking.
In truth, club legend Lowe is probably not yet ready for full-time management. He’d probably admit that himself too. But the experience is sure to stand him in good stead and hopefully the veteran striker will get another chance to manage Bury.
So on Wednesday, Lucketti, 46, was confirmed as Bury’s new manager, the 3rd appointment made by chairman Stewart Day. This time he went back to appointing a young boss and a former player, like he did with David Flitcroft.
Chris Lucketti after helping Bury win the Second Division championship in 1997
Both have served an apprenticeship as assistant manager, Flitcroft under Keith Hill at Rochdale then Barnsley, and Lucketti under Graham Alexander for the last 5 years at Fleetwood then Scunthorpe.
Flitcroft also had some experience as manager at Barnsley while this is Lucketti’s first stint as the main man. But while both are former Shakers, Lucketti is a club legend having played over 200 games for the club, helping them win back-to-back promotions in 1996 and 1997.
It seems to be a popular appointment amongst most fans, although some are wary of going for another rookie. But Lucketti knows this level well. He hasn’t just played at this level, most of his time as Alexander’s assistant has been in League One. And he didn’t appear to be a ‘yes man’, like many number two’s. He seemed to play a very active role.
Alexander and Lucketti were youth-team coaches together at Preston and Alexander said that even back then Lucketti was determined to one day be a manager. And this week Lucketti admitted Bury was always the place where he wanted to make that step.
Although he went on to enjoy spells with Huddersfield and Preston, racking up over 600 appearances, the former centre-half said his time at Gigg Lane was the best in his career.
Having now been handed that opportunity, I wish him well. But first he has to get Bury out of the bottom four.
“My brief is to get the club together, to be united, and if we can get that togetherness, with the talent we have got then there is only one way this club is going to go,” said Lucketti. “I have to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong very quickly, which I intend to do, and when I do that I am sure we will fly up the table.”
Northampton are just two points above the Shakers and victory today would not only see Bury leapfrog the Cobblers, it’d put them level with fifth-bottom Gillingham. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be an eventful day. It is Bury after all.