Craig Jones is Bury manager David Flitcroft's 'captain fantastic'
IT was David Flitcroft’s first big decision as Bury manager – to pick influential midfielder Craig Jones as his captain.
The former Barnsley coach stated when getting the job last week that he wanted to revamp Bury’s style – from the direct play favoured by the previous regime to a more measured approach, focusing on “possession rather than position” football.
That is the long term goal and Flitcroft admits it will take time to get there: “It takes 66 days to break a bad habit”, he said.
But every long journey has to start with a single step, and, for the Bury manager, that was handing the captain’s armband to his most skilful, creative player.
“After the first day I knew he was going to be the captain,” said Flitcroft.
“I love his hunger, I love his desire and his quality.
“The kid’s the sort of player we want to be working with and that the club wants to recruit. I get it.” It seems Jones gets it too.
The 26-year-old had to bide his time to break into the squad after being brought to the club from Welsh side TNS by Richie Barker, arriving days after the now Portsmouth manager left Gigg Lane for Crawley.
Barker’s successor, Kevin Blackwell, shunted him into the reserves, but Jones’ attitude and quality eventually won through and he had already become an integral part of the Bury first team before Flitcroft took the hotseat.
And while the Wirral-based player may not be a big talker on the pitch, the new Bury boss believes his approach and quality sets the perfect blueprint for others to follow. A responsibility Jones is more than happy to shoulder.
“It was a surprise when he pulled me in on Friday and said he was going to give me the captaincy,” admitted Jones.
“He said I had shown a great attitude in training and set an example to the team in the performances he had seen so far this season.
“So he said it was fully deserved and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to captain the side.
“My plan is to lead by example and I thought I did on Saturday.”
Jones was at the hub of everything in a new central role in the opening stages against Northampton before being forced back into midfield after Tom Soares and Chris Sedgwick were injured.
But the new Shakers captain believes the early signs were promising.
“I think you could see from the first half that we were trying to play a lot more football, which is what we all want to do and I am sure it is what the fans want to see and what the chairman wants as well,” he said.
“Obviously, we only had four days with the gaffer this week, so it’s not going to turn around straight away, but we will put the work in on the training ground and hopefully he will get us playing some good football.”
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