The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joe Leavey

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.”

PIC­TURE: Me­dia Im­age

JOY: Rhys Oates, left, cel­e­brates scor­ing against Tran­mere

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