OATES SO GLAD TO BE A SHRIMP
RHYS Oates faced an uncertain future after being released by Hartlepool – but now he’s determined to repay Morecambe boss Jim Bentley for giving him a second chance in the Football League.
When National League Pools let him go at the end of the season, the 23-yearold could have been forgiven for fearing the worst. But then came the chance to step back up into the EFL with the Shrimps – and the striker seized it with both hands.
“You can never turn down getting back in the Football League, especially having been let go by Hartlepool,” he said.
“You never know what’s going to come up, who’s going to give you an offer. You’re just waiting on phone calls really, so to get a chance back in the Football League was great.
“I knew there’d been a bit of interest from Morecambe in the past – before last season – but I didn’t know if it was still there. It was a massive positive when I found out that they were still interested.”
After Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal and Paul Tisdale’s move from Exeter to MK Dons, Morecambe legend Bentley, above, is now the longest-serving manager in English football by over a year.
Now into his eighth full season with the seaside club, Bentley has established their credentials as a League Two team after they were promoted into the Football League for the first time in 2007.
And while Oates is still new to the fold in Lancashire, it hasn’t taken him long to notice the principles behind Bentley’s longevity.
“He’s a great man-manager,” said Oates, who had hit four goals heading into this weekend. “He’s always staying positive for the boys. He knows the club inside out and he puts a lot of time into recruiting his players - he knows what he wants.
“He brings players in that he knows are going to gel well – it creates a good environment. Essentially, it’s down to us to make sure we pick up the results and get the points to help him keep his job here.”
Last season was a tough one for the Shrimps – they escaped relegation by virtue of goal difference on the final day of the season.
Their travails continued into the new campaign as they fell to three successive league defeats, including a 6-0 drubbing at Crewe on the opening day.
Despite the Shrimps still finding themselves in choppy water, Oates is confident results will pick up, and is definitive on the subject of whether his side are expecting another brush with the R-word.
“We’re really confident that we can challenge against any team in the league on our day,” added the former Barnsley man. “I think we’ve just got to see where we go but I’m confident we won’t be in the relegation battle this year.
“We’re playing really good football. We just haven’t got the results in some games that we deserved. It took a bit of time, with a lot of new signings, for us to gel as a team, but I feel like we’re bonding well now.”
JOY: Rhys Oates, left, celebrates scoring against Tranmere