Author Archives: Aaron Benson

VAR In Review: Three Dreaded Words Man City Fans Don’t Want To See Again

For many years football has asked for technology. UEFA decided to bring VAR into the Champions League in January in order to sort out ‘clear and obvious decisions’.

‘Can somebody please tell me what clear and obvious is?’ said BT Sport Host Gary Lineker to ex ref turned pundit Peter Walton, as TV discussed Danny Rose’s handball from a Raheem Sterling shot in The Champions League first leg quarter final between Tottenham and Manchester City last week.

Lineker’s view echoes what many football fans think. As delirium turned to heartbreak at the Etihad Stadium last night, Man City fans probably wanted the use of VAR to be shelved right back in the wardrobe and never be brought out again. Twelve months ago though, when Guardiola’s side played Liverpool when VAR was inactive, City fans sung loudly from the rooftops for UEFA to be included in European games.

Technology in football is a rather funny thing. If it works in your favour you become a fan, if works against your team fans seem to want nothing to do with the system.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has always had is reservations where VAR is concerned, on Wednesday night he may just have found a new ally. On the other side of the touchline, Pep Guardiola, leading advocate for video assistance in football, his reaction as referee Cuneyt Cakir disallowed Sterling’s near but not so near winner was one of heartbreak.

Whatever the answer, VAR’s way of clearing up problems is throwing up more heartbreak than anyone may have thought. On another note, the time taken for the whole thing to work needs much looking at in the close season.

The atmosphere inside the Etihad become a church graveyard. All starting when the stadium announcer calls ‘VAR in review’. Then there is silence, pure silence. 54,000 fans cramped in one building and you can hear a pin drop.

Anticipation or dread may well be the answer. But staring at an empty blue screen stating, ‘Goal in review’ can only kill an atmosphere. Twice in one half is quite simply no good for fans, especially when they have no clue what the match day official is being told  or why he has his hand to an earpiece.

This happened when PSG played United last month. Before Marcus Rashford tucked away an injury time penalty winner, The crowd inside Le Parc des Princes found no words to describe their emotions as somehow a trio of pitch side officials plus a man by a computer could send the French Champions out of Europe.

Again at Tottenham’s new ground last week in the run-up to Aguero’s penalty miss,  VAR made thousands of excited home fans go silent. Did the eventual decision clear up or answer the question of whether a penalty should or should not have been given. Not really.

Slowing the action down does not mean a decision is correctly awarded. Handball shouts and appeals like Danny Rose, VAR’s use is welcomed, all be it with a pince of salt and a cheesy smile.

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Bury Must Find a Way to Get Past This in-Form Newport Team

After a spirited second half performance over Colchester last Saturday bringing home a much-needed three points for Ryan Lowe’s side, Bury will need something similar on Good Friday against Newport.

Dom Telford helped resurrect the Shakers promotion hopes, but it will all be for nothing if they suffer a Good Friday defeat in Wales.

Having only lost three times at home in the league this season, whilst reaching the FA Cup fifth round in the process, there has been plenty of positives for Michael Flynn and co, particularly over the past five weeks.

Unbeaten for over a month, spanning five league games, this could be a so-called banana skin for Bury as they hunt down promotion.

The good thing for the Shakers is that they lead the race for the teams looking to steal promotion. The bad news is they can barely afford to lose even one match. From second to fifth- the table looks like this.

Bury 74,

Mansfield 73,

MK Dons 72,

Tranmere 71.

Bury’s last away game is at Tranmere too.

Last Saturday’s win was just what the club needed, following on from the financial drama which still hangs over the club. Ryan Lowe got his players to stand together in a huddle at full time whilst regularly clapped the fans for their support as they sung,’Oh Ryan Lowe’ throughout the game.

However, he, his players and staff are still to be paid as this is written, how long the peace and harmony can be kept up is anyone’s guess. The club will return to court on May 15th with a hefty 200K debt hanging over them. A ‘Just giving page’ has been set up on Twitter to get the staff paid.

Again the hope for all Bury fans is the players can pull thought this fiasco. Lowe has already said that the players will play onto the end of the season without pay if worst comes to worse.

Fans will hope Steve Dale can sought out these ongoing issues, for the fans part, a modest 3,900 crowd last weekend may not have been the dream number they may have wanted either.

That said for the team to throw away promotion would be a great disappointment, although Newport will do their worst. The Exiles return to form sees them only five points off the playoffs and are one of only three top half teams to have not lost any of their past five games.

For Bury however, the race for promotion goes on, with or without pay. How long the players stay unboard with the chairman however remains to be seen.

Let’s pack out Gigg Lane in a must win game for Bury against Colchester

Having managed to avoid administration or liquidation in Court on Wednesday, Bury can finally focus on what goes on between the white lines, rather than what happens in the boardroom.

For now anyway, the winding up petition has been adjourned until the 15th May when the club are back in court. This will allow time for the players, coaching staff and fans to concentrate solely on promotion back to League One.

Before moving onto the financial trauma at Gigg Lane, Ryan Lowe and his players will need three points to get their promotion push back on track. Following on from a hat trick of defeats against Swindon, Cambridge and Carlisle, Saturday’s game against Colchester could prove to be the catalyst for a new charge at the top three.

Sitting only one point off Mansfield and MK Dons in second and third place, hope is not all lost for Bury in the promotion race but to lose again against John McGreal’s side could prove just too costly.

No Bury fan wants to see their side fall further behind in the promotion race, nor see the club go bust, meaning support this weekend is bigger than ever. With the announcement the club need to pay back just over £277,000 of unpaid tax to the HMRC by the end of the season, gate numbers will be pivotal in order to keep the club afloat.

With only three home games left before the end go the season, The Shakers don’t exactly have time on their side in order to claw back the debt they owe through match day revenue anyway.

Saturday’s game will see long serving home fans ditch their season tickets and pay the normal ticketing price, one only a ground hopper would pay if ever they attended this League Two fixture.

Incomings at Bury are more important than ever, so too is limiting the outgoings the club has in order to avoid liquidation.

In his latest club statement, Chairman Steve Dale stated that the running of the club will need significant reform if they are to survive in the long term.

‘There will need to be major changes in the Club to sustain its existence, it can no longer act like a premiership club as the previous owners aspired to and it needs to be cutting its cloth accordingly to guarantee its future as this is paramount to Fans and Community, some actions needed will be bitter pills to take and some people will disagree but our course of action is impartial I’m here to save a Club not pander to certain individuals, the Club comes first.

‘There are many issues within the Club that need addressing, take it from me what you see is not what you get, it serves certain people who do not have the interest of the club to heart only their own personal agenda but spin clouds this, time will show who these people are’.

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Ryan Lowe Defiant Despite Dark Clouds Over Bury

Somewhere today all those associated with the of Bury FC will know the clubs future destiny, short and long term.

At 10.30am the Shakers are up in Court where the long term future of the club looks set to be decided. Now a week on from the social media breakout which painted the club in bleak light, highlighting staff within the club hadn’t been paid for March, directors not present at Tuesday night’s game against Cambridge and the club statement announcing  ‘prehistorical debt’ was affecting the club in worser ways than anyone could have imagined, on and off the pitch the wheels seem to be coming off.

On Saturday the management staff and players will somehow look to halt the slide of three consecutive defeats, as they take on promotion chasing Colchester United.

Yet there are fears the club might not even survive till the weekend, especially if Bury are to be wound up in court or Chairman Steve Dale fails to deal with the debt which hangs over the club as they face a history defining day.

However, despite this worrying time for Bury, manager Ryan Lowe still believes the players can rise above the off-field drama.

Speaking to TalkSport at the EFL Awards on Sunday night-where midfielder Jay O’Shea was named in the League Two team of the year, Lowe seemed in good spirits and only had eyes for promotion, for now anyway.

‘Every team has bumps in the road on the way to success and we are going through ours now’.

I get that the lads not being paid is an issue and I hope that gets resolved very soon, what we need to do is unite together as a club.

On the current wage problems – ‘I honestly don’t know(when the players and staff are to be paid), I haven’t had any confirmation from the directors nor the owner in all honesty’.

‘Its affecting the players 100%, not being paid. We hadn’t conceded 9 goals in three games all season, now we have done (against Swindon 1-3, Cambridge 0-3 and Carlisle 3-2).

‘I am trying to make sure there is positivity but it’s certainly affecting the lads.

On the players striking, something seen done recently at rivals Bolton Wanderers – ‘We are never going to do that, for all the fans and those who are also associated with us. We’ve scored 96 goals and been one of the best teams in the league this season’.

The lads have been fantastic, I think we really deserve to go up. I’ll  discuss my future at the end of the season with the owners. I want to see these lads, staff and fans over the line’.

Bury Need to Put Off-The-Field Troubles to One Side With One Final Promotion Push

In some way shape or form Ryan Lowe and his side really need to put this weeks drama aside. How they do this is another matter, due to the fact they haven’t been paid for March and that issue is still to be resolved at the time this article is being written.

What can be agreed on though is the commitment all players and coaches of the club. March was not the first time wages hadn’t been paid to the staff of the club, this just showing how troubling the off the field troubles have been so far this season.

Steve Dale said when he bought the club a significant amount of financial damage had to be resolved, and fans and all those associated with the club are only just realising the trouble left pre-December takeover.

In a statement released by Steve Dale last night, he announced that the financial rumours were indeed true, but he and the board were doing all they can to ensure the club survives the latest fiasco that is upon Gigg Lane.

‘I can confirm that there is some element of truth in the circulating information relating to the club’s financial affairs. Due to a number of unforeseen issues, the financial position of the club is significantly worse than what was discovered during our due diligence process prior to the acquisition’.

‘The full extent of the problems inherited from the previous ownership of the club have become apparent over time, and this has undoubtedly led to our current difficulties’.

It’s very difficult to believe that Bury are still 3rd in League Two, and on the pitch still so many questions are yet to be answered. The Shakers are on 71 points and despite back to back home defeats, hold off Mansfield by two points in the race for promotion, with eight of the top nine having played 40 games.

Fans will no doubt have worried greatly about the future of Bury, with thoughts turning from promotion to whether they will have a club to watch next season. At Carlisle today, the away end will be full with Bury fans hoping to cheer on their side for a valuable three points.

Ryan Lowe and his staff have agreed to play on till the end of the season, even if they aren’t to be paid. In a more positive part of Dale’s statement, he announced he, nor his colleagues, would be letting the club fall into the abyss.

To address some of the gossip pertaining to my own position, I can assure you that this remains the same as it has been from day one. On the pitch, I have always been clear that I can add nothing; from that perspective, the club is in the highly capable hands of our Sporting Director, our Manager, and the players.

We’re currently sat third in the league, and so I consider them to be doing their jobs extremely effectively. If in any given week the team loses a bit of form, showing them support and enthusiasm will help them rise to the occasion, as they have so many times before.’

‘The full extent of the problems inherited from the previous ownership of the club have become apparent over time, and this has undoubtedly led to our current difficulties. It is certainly a testing time, but we can overcome it. We will overcome it.’

Bury’s Undroppable Midfielders May Miss Out on Player of Year Award

Danny Mayor and Jay O’Shea were nominated for League Two player of the season on Tuesday. Rightly so, between them they’ve netted 26 goals and 12 assists in the process of taking Bury to within touching basis of promotion with 8 games to play.

There is no doubt a few eyebrows may have been raised when Lowe opted for a 3-5-2 formation back in August following on from Bury’s slow start to life in League Two, but there has been no better players than Mayor or O’Shea who have benefited from the formation switch.

For Mayor, he has no doubt found a level to excel at in League Two this season and his creative play will prove just that. Still Bury’s main creative force and the main architect behind Bury’s newly found attacking play under Lowe this season.

Jay O’Shea has been of similar ranking and no doubt deserves his nomination, but may be overlooked for the award. One of the surviving players from the shambles that was Bury’s 2017/18 League One campaign under Lee Clark, Chris Lucketti and then finally Lowe himself as caretaker manager, O’Shea has powered through the ranks netting 16 goals this year and he’s got 8 games to still add to his tally.

Whether Bury’s nominees win the award is another matter, but they may be one goalscoring machine that could deny either the top prize.

Despite a fair few assists from Lowe’s duo, neither can come close to Tranmere striker James Norwood in terms of goals, scoring 26 league goals this season, 9 more than Nicky Maynard. Where Tranmere would be without his goals in another debate. 5 wins in a row, the Merseyside based club look the most likeliest to make one final push for the automatic promotion places, trailing MK Dons by 5 points but can look to David’s Flitcroft Mansfield cracking under pressure for a glimmer of hope.

All three have had a huge effect on there respective teams this season, but if Mayor and O’Shea are to be denied, it will be simply because an out and out goal scorer has had one of those seasons.

Salford’s Full Backs are the Untold Stars of Their Promotion Push

The Class of 92’s spending on attacking talent such as Adam Rooney and Rory Gaffney has been well documented over recent months, but the greatest asset to Graham Alexander’s side may just well be his back four, in particular full backs Scott Wiseman and Ibou Touray. 

Consisting of Liam Hogan and Nathan Pond at centre back, Ammies full backs produced a performance owners and former defenders Gary and Phil Neville would have been proud of in their own playing days. 

Centre backs Pond and Captain Hogan were particularly impressive, Bromley striker JJ Hooper found himself short of any goalmouth action throughout the 90 minutes, while wingers Luke Coulson and George Porter both faced an uphill battle from the word go in their own personal duels with Wiseman and Touray. 

Having seen an upturn of form in March winning five of their six games heading into Bromley, the source of Salford’s unbeaten run isn’t hard to find. So much so, ‘keeper Chris Neal came into the game having not conceded a goal in 550 minutes of football, a run that goes back to the end of February. 

Despite playing a mid-table Bromley side with little to play for in terms of promotion and relegation before the season is out. Neil Smith’s side came into the game on the back of a midweek 4-2 win over Braintree Town, the visiting front three therefore had plenty of reasons to be confident upon their visit to The Peninsula Stadium. 

Bromley, who were at times dangerous on the counter attack during the first half, certainly found themselves to be the victims through endless Salford pressure. Alexander’s game plan looked a clever one to the watching eye: Deep, threatening  crosses out wide from Touray and Wiseman plus substitute Tom Walker provided a fresh attacking threat from the right flank which caused more trouble for the opposition.  

Trailing 1-0 to a soft Hooper penalty, down the right hand side Salford reaped the rewards, delivering drama that mirrored The Class of 92’s own careers with Man United. 

And it was only going to be down that flank if the home side fancied nicking anything as Maynard then Pond provided delivered the rewards. Bromley are no strangers to conceding late goals recently, but their collapse was not due to their inability to hold a lead.

Struggling for the most part to test Bromley keeper David Gregory, Alexander’s substitutes coupled with his sides never die attitude showed why Ammies promotion push shows no sign of slowing down. Ending March with six wins in seven games, the dream of competing in League Two looks rather more probable than five weeks ago after a 2-0 home loss to Eastleigh. 

At one point during the second half, Salford diehards began the goal started singing ‘we are going up’. If they are to do so, a look to their full backs may just an extra reason for what looks like an achievement so much more likely by the week. 

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