Cambridge – new manager bounce ?

Having watched their team succumb spinelessly to Neil Harris's former club last weekend, Charlton fans will be keen to avoid a depressing double when he brings his new club to The Valley on Saturday.

Harris's appointment as Cambridge boss comes after last week’s sacking of Mark Bonner, then the longest serving manager in League One, having been at the helm for four years. When the club won three of their first four games and were top of League One in August, things looked very promising and Bonner signed a new "long-term" contract in September. Majority owner, Paul Barry said at the time that the new deal for Bonner "should be seen as further evidence of our shared ambition and desire at every level. He is very talented coach and a fantastic leader of this football club - someone who has been a very important part of our recent past and has a big role to play in our future,"

That future has turned out to be only three months as far as Bonner is concerned. After beating Reading 1-0 at the start of September his team went on a run of thirteen games with only one win and dropped to eighteenth. The run included becoming the first team to lose to Cheltenham, a 0-4 home defeat by Barnsley and a 5-0 thrashing at Peterborough. The final straw was a 0-3 home loss to Lincoln at the end of November. Paul Barry said Bonner would go down as "one of the most important people in the history of Cambridge United but in football, sometimes you do have to make decisions you believe are right for the long-term future of the club - difficult though they can sometimes be."

In their first game of the post-Bonner era, Cambridge were 3-0 up in thirteen minutes against Fleetwood in the FA Cup and went on to win 4-0. They will now be expecting a new manager bounce under Harris who is "super excited and really pleased to be here. It's a brilliant project in motion here. I just want to come and add some value to that."

Our recent record against Cambridge is good with three wins and a draw since we resumed hostilities. However last year's encounter at The Valley was a disappointing 1-1 draw a few days after the 5-1 demolition of Plymouth which had raised so many hopes. A similar result on Saturday would cast major doubt on any pretension of us reaching the play-offs.

George Dobson and Lloyd Jones were substituted at Reading, although Michael Appleton has stressed this was purely precautionary. The absence of either of those two would severely weaken our starting eleven, particularly as Conor McGrandles is likely to be missing through injury. We have a lot of promising young players coming through but we can't afford to have too many of them on the pitch at the same time.

After McCauley Bonne's seemingly inevitable goal for Gillingham last Saturday, we need to hope that Sullay Kaikai doesn't do the same this week and that Michael Morrison can't halt Alfie May's rich scoring form. Jordan Cousins is also now at Cambridge but was an unused substitute in the Fleetwood game.


The Guardian's Max Rushden reflects on Bonner's departure: "How should you feel when your club sacks one of the game's good guys"