New boss Jim eyes a revival
By Chris Dunlavy · Sept 3, 2023
JIM Bentley has vowed to ring the changes as he bids to end Southport’s abysmal winless run and beat the drop from National League North.
The Sangrounders haven’t tasted victory since March, and began the weekend four points adrift of safety after taking just one point from their opening six games.
Long-serving manager Liam Watson voluntarily moved upstairs last month after admitting they needed “fresh blood” in the dugout.
Now it has arrived in the shape of Bentley, and the former Morecambe, Fylde and Rochdale boss says the current crop must prove they can dig themselves out of trouble – or else.
“I know from my time at Fylde that the squad here is decent,” said Bentley, who won promotion to the Football League as a player with Morecambe in 2007.
“They’ve got a lot of players who know the level. Some good up-andcomers who have done well in the league below.
“But we’ve also got a couple underperforming, a couple who are injured. It hasn’t come together, it hasn’t clicked, but I believe there’s enough there to turn a corner.
“If there isn’t then we’ll look to get reinforcements in, and to be honest I’ll do that anyway. Not just because we’re a little bit light on bodies but because you want to inject a bit of freshness after such a poor start.”
Bentley spent 18 years at Morecambe, eightand-a-half as manager. It was a reign that briefly made him the longest-serving manager in England’s top four divisions, but recent experiences have been rather more rocky.
A Covid-hit spell at Fylde brought relegation from the National Premier followed by a thwarted attempt at promotion, whilst last season’s seven-month stint at doomed Rochdale began and ended at the foot of League Two. Both jobs culminated in the sack.
Far from leaving scars, however, Bentley believes those travails have left him better equipped to pull off a rescue act at Haig Avenue.
“People might look at it and go ‘Yeah, but it didn’t work out before’,” says the 47-yearold. “But losing jobs and managing struggling teams – you learn a lot about the situation and a lot about yourself. “There were lots of things I wanted to do at Rochdale, but my hands were tied and it was very difficult. At Fylde, everything we tried was undermined by Covid.
“But you reflect and you learn, and you recognise things you could have done differently. So when you come to that position again – like now – you can do a better job.
“The run we’re on is poor, but it can happen to anybody if confidence dips. Likewise, you can go on a winning run, just like Southport did a couple of years ago when they nearly got into the play-offs. That’s how quickly things can change in football.
“I’ve got to get to the bottom of why it’s happened, squeeze an extra three or four per cent out of each player, implement what I want and get back to winning ways.”