Bury FC: Genuine title contenders?
Currently sitting in a very healthy 3rd position in League Two Ryan Lowe's Bury side have only lost 7 times this season which is the 4th lowest in total losses of the 24 teamsin League Two, an impressive record bettered only the current top two Lincoln and Mansfield and by the current in form Forest Green Rovers. But could things be even better?
It's going to sound strange and its not something you will here very often considering The Shakers current league position but yes it could be better, more on that later.
Bury, at the time of writing, have scored an incredible 62 goals this season a total that sees them being the third highest scorers in english league football behind Manchester City and Luton Town. Bury are an all out attacking side who play with a freedom and style rarely seen in the lower echelons of english football, wing backs bombing on, box to box midfielders and a reasonably solid back three with ex MK Dons striker Nicky Maynard helping himself to 12 goals this season and another former Don Jay O'Shea topping that tally scoring 15 league goals from the centre of midfield.
A solid eleven
A former Shrewsbury Town, MK Dons and Tranmere Rovers player Ryan Lowe left Bury to join Crewe as a player at the end of the 2015-16 season but found the pull of Gigg Lane to much to bear and having already had 3 spells as a player coach Lowe rejoined the club and set about his coaching role once again. Lowe, like a few clubs in League Two, has settled on a 3-5-2 formation and boy has it worked. Anyone who was lucky enough to witness the recent 3-3 draw against fellow title hopefuls Lincoln City will have seen how attacking these two side are and Bury have two very able wing backs in Nicky Adams and Callum McFadzean who are both decent crossers of the ball. Chris Stokes, Adam Thompson and Will Aimson have a good understanding as a back three having played 30 plus games together. The experience of club stalwart Danny Mayor in the centre of midfield has also been very important.
It's not unfair to say that the defending in League Two is at times questionable from a lot of the sides and that goes for the promotion hopefuls too with only Mansfield conceding less than 30, harsh? maybe but questionable is probably the correct wording and with Bury having conceded 37 goals this again flags up the attacking and slightly high risk high reward strategy they have.
Up until the middle to late January my xPoints model (expected points) had Bury in 1st position in the table (they now ranked 2nd xPoints wise, see the table below) the reason they have drifted into second in my rankings is purely that there xGA has now risen to 38.8 meaning they are now only just bettering that number having actually conceded 37 goals which basically means they have started to concede some high xG chances something which needs to be addressed if they are to maintain some form moving forward.
The Shakers and there offensive qualities
As we can see above Bury have achieved some of the league's highest rankings in terms of offensive output stats and they are all pretty self explanatory. Deep completions means the ball is progressed quicker into attacking areas with the touches in the box stat also backing that up. Bury are also ranked 1st for 1v1's and fouls suffered such a high amount is testament to their average match possession percentage of just over 53 percent.
One player however has stood out for me this season and he has been mentioned earlier on in the article and that's Jay O'Shea.
Testament to Bury's hard working, attacking style of play O'Shea is having a more than ok season. Incredibly sitting second in the scoring charts behind Tranmere's James Norwood with 15 goals to his name this is a hugely impressive feat from a centre midfielder no matter what league you play in and only Swindon Town's Michael Doherty comes close as the only other midfielder in double figures with 11 goals. You can tell that O'Shea is a box to box midfielder just looking at his PAdj numbers in the radar, banging in goals at one end and tackling and making interceptions at the other. O'Shea knows and follows his role to the letter and having watched him multiple times myself I have to say I was very impressed and there is no doubt the stats more than match up when watching him in the flesh. At 30 O'Shea may not play any higher unless of course Bury are promoted but he is a top League two player there is no doubt. His goal contribution is surprising its fair to say but playing in the right of the three centre midfielders has allowed him to venture forward more often due to the security of the also excellent Danny Mayor alongside him.
With 15 goals and Maynard's 12 Bury are looking in a healthy position for automatic promotion.