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Women's Football News
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Bury Girls & Ladies manager Paul Iannaccone is full of pride when reflecting on his team's start to the season, which has seen them as leaders of a league where they have struggled in recent times.
Paul is currently the full time Head of Football at Bury FC Football College, and has just been accepted onto the UEFA A Licence next year. He has coached girls and women's football both here and in the USA for over seven years now, having regional and national success in the USA and now proudly coaching his home town women's team at Bury Girls & Ladies.
In each of the last four seasons, Bury have finished inside the bottom three in Division One North of the North West Women's League but this time around, they have led the table all season and are locked in what is looking to be a tight promotion race, with Sir Tom Finney and Penrith AFC as their nearest rivals.
Understandably, Paul is proud of the way things have been turned around on the pitch and the transformation from perennial strugglers to promotion contenders. "I am extremely pleased," he told Women's Soccer Scene. "The players worked very hard over the summer and we had a fantastic pre-season. I can't speak highly enough of how they are to work with as a group and they deserve a successful season after the efforts they put in."
So are they exceeding his expectations so far? "Absolutely," he replies. "All we said for this season was to try and do better than last year. We had a transition year last year, and were too inconsistent because of it. We are much more settled now.
"The approach [since the end of last season] has not changed. I took over the team at the beginning of last season and immediately started to implement the style and structure i wanted. Like all things, it takes time.
"It took time for the girls to adjust to me and for me to get to know them (I'm not the easiest coach to please, too demanding at times) and some players had to be moved on because they couldn't fit with what we wanted. However, the majority stayed and we added some quality along the way and, especially in the summer, we strengthened well. It's all starting to come together for us now but we are still a very young team and we have a long way to go."
Looking at the title race, Bury have no match this week but will have a special interest in the meeting between Sir Tom Finney and Penrith, the two sides level on points with them at the top. "I'll certainly be there to watch that game," he smiles.
The following week, Bury return to action against Sir Tom Finney but Paul, whilst concentrating on this game, is mainly looking at the broader picture.
"The most important game is always the next one," he said. "I don't feel any one game is more important than the next. It will obviously be a very tough game against one of, if not the, best team in our division. But we are excited to test ourselves against quality opposition and see how well we can do.
"I think the other two have a slight advantage due to us having a couple of losses and still needing to play them twice. Both Tom Finney and Penrith will continue to pick up points and we will have to be at our very best to match them. We are looking forward to the challenge."
Whatever happens in the title race, what overall would the manager consider to be a good season for Bury Girls & Ladies? "We said at the beginning of the season that we would like to finish in the top half of the table as a minimum, and try to have more wins than losses overall. If we can achieve that, I'll be very happy. Anything on top of that is a bonus.
"There's a long way to go and a lot of football still to be played but so far, I couldn't be prouder of my players for their performances this season and I hope they get what they deserve at the end of the year."
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