David Flitcroft has spoken of his delight after the signing of six new players in recent days.
For many football clubs, the summer months are a time to rebuild and freshen up their squads and, this summer, it has been no different at Bury Football Club. Speaking exclusively to ShakersPlayer HD this week, manager David Flitcroft has given us his thoughts on his new additions to the squad and pays tribute to his Chief Scout after spending countless hours tracking players over the course of the season and the summer.
In explaining the process of identifying, tracking and eventually signing new players, Neil Howarth, Bury Football Club's Chief Scout, has travelled, watched, identified and reported on a plethora of potential players that could benefit the football club over the course of the season and the gaffer was quick to praise Neil for his efforts.
“Neil Howarth, our recruitment guy and chief scout, puts a lot of time and effort in getting out there to games, watching teams and watching players in particular. Sometimes he can watch three games in a day with an academy game in the morning, one in the afternoon and then a first team game in the evening.” said Flitcroft.
He continued by saying “We are always abreast of the Premier League sides that have the best younger players. It’s important that you see them live and we have to do the homework on every player we try to sign.
“For us, I wanted to look at players on the training ground. I think it has benefited Craig Jones more than anyone, with him being on that training ground a lot more than he was before Christmas, but also players that we can develop at the football club. They are out on the training ground and it’s something that we have looked at really intensely.
The gaffer continued by explaining just what sort of player he wants involved in and around the squad. He said: “I want players in that make an impact on the training ground because they will make an impact in games. We’ve put a lot of work into it and, after going away for two weeks over the summer, I’ve probably interviewed between 20 and 30 players. I then went to finish my UEFA Pro Licence and I was even meeting players at St George’s Park in-between different modules of the course.
The agents have become a little bit more realistic as to what the player might get and what the agent gets and we’ve managed to get some fantastic deals done over the table, not just in terms of bringing fantastic players in, but also for the right amount and that was important to us.
After explaining his ideology on recruitment, the gaffer then spoke of each of the six new additions to his squad starting with 'keeper Ben Williams, a position that over the last 12 months brought problems for the manager and his staff.
“Goalkeepers have been an ongoing problem for the last 12 months, we haven’t nailed our colours to the mast. I had a 'keeper lined up last season that would have been fantastic for us. We did the deal but he then got injured and from that point we were chasing our tail with getting a 'keeper in.
“The younger 'keepers tend to equip themselves well but after three of four games, the pressure of having to win, and not just being in the development leagues, suddenly dawns on them that they are sharing a dressing room with players that it means so much to them to get that win. A collective win is a different pressure that these guys are under and that’s what we found last season
“It was really important that we got it sorted and we chased Ben Williams for four to six weeks. The Phil Parkinson situation got in the way with things a little and him going to Bolton played a massive part in it. I don’t think we would have got Ben if Phil had stayed at Bradford. He would have stayed there and Phil would have got him over the line, but we took advantage of the situation and it’s a great bit of business. If you look at his CV and the games he has played over that length of time, the success he had at Bradford, his experience of getting to the Play-offs was a key factor in this.”
With a number of goalkeepers used over the last twelve months, David Flitcroft is adamant that the problem will not resurface going into the new season, so with one good experienced 'keeper already through the door, his next task was to get another – this time in the shape of Chris Kirkland
“With the situation we found ourselves in last season with the 'keeper problem, we now have two experienced goalkeepers challenging for the number one spot and Chris Kirkland brings a lot.” said the gaffer.
He added: “Chris came to Tenerife with us last season and spent five days with the club. In the end we couldn’t do the deal and Preston came in for him and he went to Deepdale. When you make a choice, you make it for the right reasons. How many time in life do you make a choice and it’s for the wrong reasons?
“Chris did that last season in his best interests and he will quite openly say now that he wished he had come to us. Chris Kirkland is highly influential in the dressing room and on the training ground and I want that leadership quality. I’m delighted with that. He’s got his own routine that he sticks to and I am delighted to have two excellent goalkeepers in that will really solve the 'keeper problem that we have had.
The first signing through the door over the summer also came with experience and plenty of it. Anthony Kay, a tough tackling centre half, arrived after being released by MK Dons at the end of last season and arrives at Gigg Lane needing just 27 appearances to join the ‘600’ club.
“Anthony Kay is a player with experience, a lot of game knowledge. He’s been there and he understands it. He is a real, definitive, leader of people and he enjoys that role. He’s always been on the training ground and leading. With some players it’s an instinct and he has certainly got that and comes with good quality as well“ said the gaffer.
Next to arrive was Zeli Ismail, another signing that created lots of interest on social media over the weekend with his arrival certainly causing plenty of excitement amongst supporters.
“Zeli Ismail brings power and pace and it's one we have been working on for at least three months. We’ve been tracking him and speaking to some good people at Wolves where they have fantastic staff behind the scenes.
“He is very unpredictable with pace, power and ballistic speed over a short distance and I am delighted to get him in. I’m not too sure that after losing Nicky Adams that we solved the right side of the pitch and now with Craig Jones having been converted to right back, this gives us the opportunity to look at that area of the pitch and improve it and, with Zeli, we’ve certainly done that.
Former Bolton Wanderers youngster Niall Maher also arrived and, again, Flitcroft has seen something in the player that excites him and sees a good future for Maher whilst a Shaker.
“Niall Maher is a young, raw, talent. Out of all the players that I have met over the summer, he has the greater potential to become a top professional. There is a real hunger inside him and a burning ambition to be as good as he can be. He wants this more than any other player that I have interviewed, he wants this opportunity and he sees this as a good opportunity. He had a few offers down South but he came in here, plus he is a Manchester lad but he really wanted to come here and make a fist of it. I’m delighted with his signature.”
Speculation over the summer has seen various media outlets mentioning former Glasgow Rangers striker Nicky Clark being linked with the Shakers and the speculation was turned into a confirmed story over the weekend when Nicky agreed and signed a two-year deal with the club.
“Nicky Clark set Twitter alight at the weekend and I believe Bury Football Club were trending in Glasgow for a while. I’ve been working on my UEFA Pro Licence and, for me, it's about making contacts from that. The people that you can meet on it, the contacts you make and develop relationships with and I’ve been lucky enough to that at St George's Park and Mark Warburton at Rangers has become a very good friend and we are going up to Rangers to see him and spend some time with him as the season develops.
“Mark kept telling me about Nicky, his work rate and his work ethic. Even though he wasn’t in and around the team, he still had that work ethic and that mentality to want to work. We had clips of him sent to us and you can just see that the kid loves scoring goals. He’s scored goals in front of 40 to 50 thousand, which is a pressure in itself. To score goals, playing for Glasgow Rangers, you have to have that special talent.
“He came down to sign at the weekend with his agent and his mum and you could see the excitement in him when he signed, that excitement that all this graft has paid off and that he is now playing in England and he has that opportunity to fashion and carve a career out in England and it was great to watch the way that they embraced each other when they signed the contract, he has a real desire to do well for himself, his family and for the football club.”
Watch the full interview with the Gaffer on ShakersPlayer HD, or click here to get a five minute teaser video available for free on YouTube.