Fan Focus: Musings From The Morecambe Side Of The Fence

Jim Bentley looks set to field a defensive side, but as long as they give 100% that's alright with our Fan Focus man!

Another game, another Fan Focus. You know fine well what Fan Focus is by now so we won't bore you too much with the details other than even when the games come against lower league opposition there's still voices to be heard and make for some excellent insight on their club.

This week we've bypassed going to a fellow blogger, writer or journalist and gone straight into the fanzone with our Morecambe correspondent, Jack Steer. Jack's already provided some views on Morecambe to The Guardian and that's good enough for us. You find out more about The Shrimps by following Jack on Twitter too @MorecambeJack

Now though let's find out more about his beloved club, because to be honest we're pretty clueless...

Hi there, and welcome to Roker Report. Are you looking forward to this game or is it a bit of a distraction from your league ambitions?

Jack Steer: This is only the second time in our history, as far as I am aware that we have played Premier League opposition (the first time being Ipswich Town, in the FA Cup a number of years ago) so Morecambe fans are definitely looking forward to it.

Obviously we are going into the game with no expectations and looking just to enjoy the day out. After taking 1100 fans to Blackpool in the first round (a considerable percentage of our home attendance), we hope to bring something similar up to Sunderland, but being a Tuesday night makes it difficult for a lot of people to make the trip after work. Either way, I'm sure our fans will make sure they are heard on the night!

We're expecting Sunderland to mix and match the team for this game with a few more fringe players getting a game. Do Shrimps fans think there's a chance of an upset?

JS: There is always a chance, but we have no expectations and will be looking to just enjoy the evening at the Stadium of Light. Morecambe fans have a motto: "Don't let the football spoil your day out", and it has certainly applied for a lot of games! It would be foolish to underestimate us though, as it would any team as we have players who can cause any team problems. With Sunderland's game on Saturday being called off for a waterlogged pitch, we are expecting a few more first team players to make the squad than perhaps there would have been.

To be perfectly honest we don't know a great deal about Morecambe to be honest. How does manager Jim Bentley go about setting his team up, and what seems to be his ‘footballing philosophy' so to speak?

JS: Jim likes to have a squad that can switch and change formations as and when the need arises and so it's hard to predict what we are going to start with. Although we have been playing a 4-3-3 formation, it is not as attacking as perhaps it sounds. As Jim was a defender (and a very good one at that!) the team is naturally instilled with a defensive mindset and Jim loves keeping clean sheets perhaps more than scoring goals.

Having said that, we are very much top heavy this year and there are 6/7 strikers at the club. Perhaps the overriding football philosophy Jim has is that you should always give 100%. It may sound obvious, but Jim demands 100% from all his players and as a footballer, Jim always gave 100% for us (hence why he is a club hero). It was a big change when Jim came in for former manager Sammy McIlroy who unfortunately signed a number of players in his final season who had no interest in giving 100% for the cause.

Who should Sunderland be looking at as potential dangermen from the Morecambe side?

JS: Lewis Alessandra has the potential to cause people a lot of problems. He is very good with his feet, but sometimes takes that one touch too many. He tore Blackpool to shreds though, so will hopefully rise to the occasion again.

Watch out for Kevin Ellison too, give him half a chance and he will take it and expect him to wind up your players and supporters alike!

Is there anyone from the Sunderland side you think could be a major cause of problems for your side, and what would you say are the weaknesses of the Morecambe side?

JS: It would be difficult to say without knowing what the starting line up should be. Sunderland should have the players to cause us problems all over the park, but as everyone knows it depends if the players show up on the day!

The main weakness of our side is our lack of strength in depth. We are a very small squad with limited finances and so with a few injuries we have to resort to playing youngsters. Fortunately, at the moment we have pretty much a full strength squad to pick from.

Another weakness is playing at home! We have a dismal home record since moving to our new stadium, the Globe Arena, and took many more points on the road last season than at home. Naturally, everyone was delighted at least this game was away!

Finally, what's your prediction for how the game will go and a score...

JS: My hope and prediction is that we give a good account of ourselves and enjoy the day out. However, I still think Sunderland will go through to the next round. I'll go for a 2-1 home win with Kevin Ellison scoring for the Shrimps.

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Thanks very much to Jack for speaking with us, and we wish him and Morecambe the best of luck for the season if not tonight. Follow on Twitter @MorecambeJack for more!

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