Ben Burgess column: Blackpool boss deserves praise

Gary Bowyer has united a group of free transfers and loan signings and guided them into the top half of League One
Gary Bowyer has united a group of free transfers and loan signings and guided them into the top half of League One
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So who deserves the manager of the year award this season?

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Maybe Pep Guardiola for an astonishing 18 match-winning streak and a league title, or maybe Sean Dyche for leading Burnley to the brink of Europe, or even John Coleman for finally achieving promotion with his beloved Accrington Stanley?

What about Gary Bowyer for uniting his band of free transfers and loan players and climbing into the top half of League One?

There can’t be many managers in the Football League having to work in such circumstances as Bowyer.

The chief executive position at Bloomfield Road has changed hands numerous times in the space of a few months. There is an owner who is at war with the fans, and you could be forgiven for thinking he appeared more often in court than at games.

Bowyer has been forced to sell his brightest and best young players.

Of the players he has retained thus far, 14 face uncertain futures as their contracts expire at the end of June.

After a fourth victory on the run, this time away from home against Gillingham, you can rest assured that scouts from Championship and League One clubs will be hovering like vultures around the better players, such as Kyle Vassell, not to mention Bowyer himself.

While many of those players whose contracts are running out would have loved working alongside Bowyer, and have enjoyed the success of promotion at Wembley last season, their first priority will be to look after themselves and their families.

The security of three and four-year contracts is extremely rare in the lower leagues now and players have to make the most of their brief playing time.

Already there will be clubs and agents getting in contact with the players to snap them up early in the summer.

Somebody who has been snapped up early, is Joey Barton. Fleetwood Town owner Andy Pilley has made the bold decision to give the controversial Barton his big break in management.

It is a very intelligent decision from Pilley because it will expose his club to extreme media scrutiny and in turn raise the profile of the club, while also putting more bums on seats.

Barton has certainly expressed strong opinions on a variety of topics in football, coaching being one of them.

He is someone who will challenge the norms of football and I for one am excited to see how he fares.

What will count against him is his lack of experience in the lower leagues.

The point is that players at that level are not always willing or able to take on new ideas like the Premier League stars are.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish AFC Fylde good luck in the final fixture of their debut National League season.

Despite being pitted against big, established former Football League teams like Tranmere Rovers, Hartlepool United and Leyton Orient, the Coasters are into the play-off zone.

They play attractive football and have many players who would be comfortable in league football.

The majority of teams Fylde come up against are full of big, strong and fast players but the Coasters buck that trend with some extremely skilful wingers and ball-playing midfielders.

Their game away at Wrexham tomorrow will be an absolute classic due to the hosts being just outside the play-off spots and needing to win.

Wrexham are expecting a crowd of 10,000, many of whom will be Fylde fans who have taken advantage of their club’s generous offer of free coach travel to and from the game.