Friday, 5 August 2016

A challenging start at Bury

Charlton start their League One campaign at Bury tomorrow. Bury are an historic club who have been members of the Football League since 1894, but they suffer from being in Greater Manchester and in the shadow of City and United. Last year they faced two winding up orders from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, but a run to the fourth round of the FA Cup enabled them to find £500,000 to satisfy the taxman. They seem to have recurrent financial crises and I remember once buying a seat there as part of what would now be called a crowd funding effort to keep them afloat. A friend is a season ticket holder.

Owner Stuart Day is ambitious and insists that the club's debts are manageable, but losses of £2.9m suggest that they are living beyond their means. It's one thing to talk the talk, another to walk the walk.

The 'fan file' in Four Four Two has Michael Prior saying that they will be battling second season syndrome this year. The opposition player he most admires is Charlton's Nicky Ajose who was in the year beneath him in primary school. He would be happy to see his side just stay up. Four Four Two forecast a finish of 15th.

They should not be underestimated, although they will miss Leon Clarke as a 20-a-season striker. Danny Mayor is a key player. He performs best on the wing if the Shakers use the 4-2-3-1 formation they experimented with last season.

Boss Danny Flitcroft favours democracy in the dressing room. The 42-year old likes his players to take ownership, inviting input on tactics and strategy. As well as keeping Barnsley in the Championship in 2013, he won promotion with Bury in 2015.

Four Four Two notes, 'Strength and conditioning is Flitcroft's forte and his side can be dangerous opponents. On their day, the Shakers are capable of beating the best in this league.' The last time we played Bury away we won 2-1, but I think that a defeat is the most likely outcome tomorrow.

Odds are: Bury 15/8, Draw 11/5, Charlton 6/4.

Some Charlton fans are already on their way north and there were reports yesterday that VOTV editor Rick Everitt had been spotted in Stratford on Avon, fortunately not on a day when I had to go there to get my car serviced.

The Rickster claimed to be getting a cultural fix, but there has been local speculation that his real mission was to scout Stratford Town. The town council in Stratford are wealthy because they own properties in the centre of the town and they have replaced the old stadium of the Bardsmen which was in the middle of an industrial estate with the purpose built Anne Hathaway Stadium on the town's leafy outskirts which has all weather training pitches.

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