by The Boy Holty
(August 22, 2011)
You often hear managers such as Steve Bruce, Roy Keane, Paul Ince or Mark Hughes saying that they as managers have been influenced by playing under Sir Alex Ferguson. Similarly anyone who ever worked with or under Brian Clough tend come out with similar remarks and say how these great managers have influenced their careers since they turned to management. Few, if any, managers who cite a former boss as a great influence, however, have ever come close to eclipsing their mentors achievements.
I am beginning to think that in the case of Richie Barker and Alan Knill, that the latter has had a profound effect on the former as many of Barkers apparent traits as the current boss of Bury FC were also previously displayed by Knill. Whether Knill has had a big influence on Barker or not, they are plainly similar in their approach to the game, neither ever getting particularly worked up about refereeing decisions or the oppositions behaviour or tactics and both having a level-headed and utterly sensible approach to their jobs. Both seem to like to sign the same type of player and certainly they both want their teams to play attractive, passing, attacking football.
Alan Knill came along at a time when Bury needed a saviour and he dragged us up from the bottom of the football league in 2008 to the verge of promotion just over three years later. Richie Barker finished the job that Knill had started before leading the club into its latest challenge, that of consolidating its place in league one and then, well, who knows what will follow?
Barker, in his six weeks as caretaker manager and his two or three short months as permanent manager looks to have at least maintained the standards set by his predecessor. The style of play and the team spirit are just as impressive as they were in our promotion season and indeed the squad is more or less the same aswell with no key players having left and just one permanent signing plus a small number of loanees. It remains to be seen whether this represents a stroke of genius or a sign of naievety on Barkers part, but the early signs after five games, with Bury lying sixth in league one and through to the second round of the league cup, is that its closer to the former. Burys great strength has been their team spirit and the lack of any major squad changes has ensured that this has not been disrupted.
The earlier comment regarding the apprentice never eclipsing the master could be proved wrong here as Knill, having departed Gigg Lane last March, only has two relegations and not much else to list on his managerial CV, whilst his successor has a promotion to his name after less than six months in the job! Is Richie Barker the new Alan Knill, or have we simply passed through one successful period of management, only to find ourselves in an even better one straight away? Time will tell, but for now things are looking up for the Shakers.
In Richie we trust.
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