Former Bamber Bridge boss Neil Reynolds ready for return to Irongate as FC United of Manchester manager

Neil Reynolds
Neil Reynolds

Neil Reynolds will not be surprised if he has to run the gauntlet at times this weekend when he stands in the dugout at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

The former Brig manager returns to Irongate for the first time since leaving in October 2018 to take charge of FC United of Manchester.

The Red Rebels determined pursuit of Reynolds certainly did not curry favour with some sections of the Brig faithful.

A division above Brig at the time, Reynolds was unable to prevent his new club from slipping to relegation.

That outcome strengthened claims that he had made the wrong choice in swapping Brownedge Road for Broadhurst Park.

But after a difficult start, FC United have got to grips with the NPL Premier Division and look good for a quick return to the National League North.

They are currently in fourth spot in the table, six points off top-of-the-table South Shields with a game in hand.

Having not lost in a number of months, the title is certainly in their hands especially as they have the leaders still to play.

Reynolds is hopeful of a good reception at the club where he spent around 15 years - across two spells - at as a player, coach and manager.

He hopes the fans can remember the good times he brought which saw the club win promotion and the NPL League Cup.

"It will be the first time I have gone back to Bamber Bridge," said Reynolds. "The time seems to have gone quick since I left.

"The job here at FC United is big, it's like a full-time job and even though I only live two minutes away from Irongate, I've not had chance to come back.

"It's going to be strange. Bamber Bridge was an exceptional place for me. I loved every minute of my time there.

"I learned my trade there, got the chance to manage the team and we managed to have a successful time and win a couple of trophies.

"It became a real special place for me.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I expect a club of FC United's stature to come in for me.

"I was looking to develop Brig in the NPL Premier Division, but then all of a sudden after a game against Daisy Hill in the Lancashire Trophy, the phone call came in from FC United.

"Then the next three weeks were difficult because they wanted to meet me, I was thinking, 'Should I stay or should I go'?

"Loads of people were telling me not to go

"It came to me to make a decision and I made it.

"I can safely say now that even with relegation, I have never looked back because it's an unbelievable club, but I can never forget my roots and the opportunity Bamber Bridge gave me.

"My dad Keith is still a season ticket holder at Bamber Bridge so he stayed loyal.

"There's still a few fans who hold it against me and they might voice their opinion on Saturday. I can understand that

"I think the turning point for many people was when Brig came to Broadhurst Park earlier in the season.

"They played really well. We won 1-0 but to be fair they were the better team.

"But I remember Brig's director of football Neil Crowe after seeing the set-up, he just said to me, 'Listen I didn't think you should have left a year ago but can understand why now'.

"A few of the fans said the same, so I hope to have a good reception."

Reynolds will find himself in direct competition with Brig boss Jamie Milligan - a man who played under him and then went with him to FC United after he initially missed out on replacing Reynolds with the job being handed to Mick Taylor.

With Brig struggling at the bottom end of the season, Joey Collins - who had replaced Taylor the season before - resigned and Milligan was asked to take charge In December.

He has presided over an upturn in results which has seen the club rise to midtable, although he was brought back down to earth last weekend when the team were thumped 5-0 at Scarborough Athletic.

Reynolds said: "Milli's style of football will be great. It will be good on the eye. He will bring good players in because people know who he is.

"He's been there and done it. Like with any manager, he will learn about the difficult side of the game; the finances; the accountability; having to leave one of your mates out of the team.

"Milli will have learned loads after the Scarborough game. Things have been quite rosy for him at the start then all of a sudden boom you come back down to earth.

"You think,' What've I done wrong'?. But he hasn't done anything wrong, it's part and parcel of football.

"But he's doing a great job so far. I want him to do a great job because he's a mate.

"I expect Brig to be tough proposition this weekend for us."