View Full Version : Bury are giving youth a chance

Darren Addick
11-09-2006, 11:15 AM
Proof that age is no barrier at Bury is reflected in the fact that at 31, boss Chris Casper is the youngest manager in the Football League.

But it is not just in the dug-out at Gigg Lane where youth is having its say.

After a woeful start to the season, in which the Shakers lost their first four matches, Casper turned to more of his young players and the results, helped by the tonic of a League Cup win over Sunderland, have been up-lifting.

Casper said: "In the first four games we never really turned up. We let ourselves down and we made bad decisions.

"We had got together quite a big, strong squad and the lads who got first go didn't take their chance.

"We switched it around and we have got a youthful look about us, although one or two of them have now got 40-50 games under their belt and have got that experience.

"They have come through and they are holding their own in the first team. There's no question about that and they deserve to keep their shirt.

"We have put some good performances in and hopefully we will build on that now."

Of the Bury side that beat Peterborough last weekend to record a third straight win, three of the side had come through the Shakers' youth team.

Two more are teenagers in the shape of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, in a second loan spell from Manchester City, and midfielder Richie Baker, who was picked up from Preston in the summer.

Substitute Jon-Paul Pittman is another 19-year-old on loan from Nottingham Forest.

Casper is not getting carried away by the mini-revival, which has also been helped by the older heads of defenders Chris Brass and David Challinor.

But the former Manchester United and Reading defender, promoted from youth-team boss to the senior job last September, is encouraged by the latest in a line of top young players to be produced by Bury as the club looks to escape the lower reaches of League Two.

He said: "We lost three out of the last 18 games last season which saved us from relegation. You think 'we can build on that'.

"We didn't decimate the squad in any way but for some reason we started making bad decisions and had to go right back to basics, freshen the squad up a little bit and the young lads have done pretty well so far.

"They are by no means the finished article. But it's going to be exciting to see them come through and see how they develop and see if they can have the kind of success that (David) Nugent, (Simon) Whaley and (Colin) Kazim-Richards have had. Hopefully they can do that."

England under-21 international Nugent and Whaley are now club-mates at Preston, while Kazim-Richards has just secured a move from Brighton to the Premiership with Sheffield United.

Blades goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was another who made his league debut at Gigg Lane, while more recently keepers Chris Porter and Glynn Garner have left to join Oldham and Leyton Orient respectively.

"Anybody who is in any doubt about whether to join Bury should just have a look at it and its record over the last four or five years," Casper added.

"It's a fact that we do have to sell sometimes but it gives players a chance to use it as a platform and progress their career."

Producing and developing young players is key to Bury, who find it difficult to make mends meet living in the shadow of the big Manchester clubs.

But as well nurturing future talent, Casper also has to live for the now. In a results business, Bury have to win to survive and Casper is focused on just that.

"You have to look after your short-term first and foremost," he said.

"If you get that sorted you can start to build for the future. You've got to build solid foundations.

"Hopefully the corner has been turned. We've made a start now in our season. We've got a foothold and confidence is pretty high at the moment.

"If you can get the confidence high then hopefully you can build on that and get your results and your performances."