As Wigan Athletic bowed out of the FA Cup meekly at the hands of Bury on Saturday, it was hard not to think back to 2013…
That was when Wigan were lifting the FA Cup with an almost miraculous win over Manchester City , but also when David Flitcroft was appointed manager of Bury – the same year they were rescued from a winding up order.
Since his arrival at Gigg Lane, things have transformed both on and off the field, and you could certainly say he has shaken up the Shakers!
Flitcroft took the Bury job after being axed by Barnsley, a club he managed to keep in the Championship the previous season and their plight now perhaps underlines their hastiness in replacing him.
Flitcroft is very much a free thinking, student of game with a true footballing philosophy – he knows how he wants his teams to play but the real trick is getting that message across, and he is clearly doing that.
Promoted on the last day of last season, Bury have more than kicked on this term and are now serious contenders for promotion.
It is now apparent that many Championship clubs are taking a keen interest in the work being done by Flitcroft, but despite only just being promoted from League Two – Bury are no usual lower league outfit.
Owned by Stewart Day, who also took charge in 2013, he rescued the club from extinction and was key in persuading Flitcroft to take charge - he promised investment and he has not disappointed. Indeed, arguably the biggest coup of his reign has been securing their new Carrington training base, the former haunt of Manchester City – who have since moved into their own newly-built facility next to their Etihad home.
Now Flitcroft is spending the vast majority of his time working in a Premier League-level facility and that will no doubt play a big part in Bury keeping him. Knocks will continue to come – especially if Bury continue to progress at their current rate – but this is one club building for the future.
Bury did not target promotion this season but now, as we approach Christmas and they are firmly in contention, the target is surely the Championship.
Day has stated that he will not just throw money at the situation, but when you have the right manager, that is not always necessary. With Day and Flitcroft at the helm, things are going one way for Bury.