by David Triggs

Seven days ago it all seemed rosy down at Gigg Lane. Pre-season was gradually coming to a close, and fans were looking forward to the League Cup clash with Middlesborough coming up on the following Saturday. Now however, there’s a feeling of doom and gloom surrounding the Lancashire outfit.

Firstly, striker Shaun Harrad was loaned out for the season to League 2 side Cheltenham Town. Many fans saw this as a bizarre decision as Bury’s already depleted forward line was now without the striker who only joined some 11 months ago. Then rumours began to circulate linking Richie Barker, the Bury manager, to the vacant post at Crawley Town. Barker became such a certainty for the role that the bookies stopped taking bets on the former Mansfield striker becoming the new manager of the Red Devils. All this in the space of 48 hours.

Barker then added fuel to the fire by requesting local media to not ask questions regarding the Crawley situation following Bury’s 3-0 win over Bradford in a pre-season friendly. The signs were beginning to look ominous. No word from the club over the weekend regarding the Barker situation also indicated to most fans that there was at least some truth in the possibility of the 36-year-old leaving. On Tuesday it was confirmed that Barker had left Bury to join Crawley Town on a 2 year contract, some four days before the start of the competitive season, and with the Bury chairman away on his jollies, things weren’t looking good. As for the move itself, I don’t think many fans can blame Barker for moving. He’ll be on more money, have a larger transfer budget and be some 200 miles closer to his young family, and the latter I’m sure was a major factor in his decision to move.

As for his replacement, Peter Shirtliff has been promoted from assistant manager to caretaker boss for this Saturday’s League Cup game, and Player/Coach Ben Futcher has been named as his assistant. But who will be the permanent replacement for Barker? Shirtliff as number 1 doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but former Shaker Andy Morrell seems to be one of the early front runners to be Barker’s successor, and I wouldn’t object to that. But for now, Bury fans will have to sit, wait and pray that an adequate replacement is brought in soon enough.

As for Richie, I just hope he doesn’t poach some of Bury’s star players such as David Worrall and Peter Sweeney, but I wish him all the best at his new role, and will certainly be giving him a round of applause when he returns to Gigg Lane with his new Crawley Town.