Mark Bonner: End of Season Report

You might remember, back in December we produced a ‘half-term’ report on Mark Bonner, and how he was performing in his first full season as U’s manager. You can familiarise yourself with it here.

We thought, with the season done and dusted, and U’s fans reflecting on a promotion to League One to look back on that, and give Bonner an ‘end-of-term’ report based on the season just gone.

League Position

Back in December we sat just outside the playoffs, but finished the season in second place, a marked improvement. No-one expected us to be anywhere near the playoffs let alone the automatic spots when the season started but Mark gelled this squad together to it’s highest finish in years.

December Grade: B

Final Grade: A


Transfers

Mark’s summer transfers mixed experience with ability and we rated him highly already for bringing in the likes of Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside and Boateng. Since then Bonner had to work with losing two centre-backs in two days but worked quickly to bring in Declan Drysdale and Jubril Okedina as loan cover, as well as adding to our attacking threat with the loan signing of Shilow Tracey.

December Grade: A-

Final Grade: A+


Tactics

Originally sticking rigidly to a 4-4-2, the Christmas period saw Mark experiment with a diamond formation which worked well, freeing up Wes Hoolahan to perform the mercurial talisman role we’ve enjoyed watching this season. Sometimes we’ve been caught out by allowing our fullbacks to attack too much when more discipline was needed, but overall the change in tactic paid off handsomely.

December Grade: C

Final Grade: A


Substitutions

Perhaps Bonner’s biggest weakness, he tends to have a lot of faith in his starting XI, often making any changes late in the game. That said, he’s improved as the season went on, making changes earlier in the game when needed. Injuries and a small squad have meant there hasn’t always been many options to choose from, but Bonner has used subs wisely when needed.

December Grade: C-

Final Grade: B+


Performances

We can’t fault him here (we’ll forget about the Harrogate game as a one-off), as United put together a string of solid results in the second half of the season which cemented our place towards the top of the table. Even in our defeats you always thought we would score, and I struggle to remember a game when we played really badly, although fatigue did begin to set in as the season wore on. An unbeaten January, coupled with one defeat apiece in February and March meant United made the most of a difficult run-in, with those two away wins at Newport and Leyton Orient in April all but assuring us of promotion.

December Grade: B-

Final Grade A+


Off The Pitch

Bonner continued his great work off the pitch during the second half of the season, making time to go over and speak to a group of fans who had rented a flat in Brisbane Road after the Orient game and just generally being an interesting and honest interviewee, never shying away from difficult questions.

December Grade: A+

Final Grade: A+


Overall

What more can you say about Mark really? One of the brightest young managers in the EFL, he worked tirelessly on and off the pitch to lead this side to promotion and give the fans something to cheer in a difficult season. No matter how challenging next season is, we shouldn’t forget the success and joy Mark bought to this club during 2020/21. As a fan he understands what it means to support Cambridge United and he’s restored some pride to the club. The future’s bright, the future’s Amber.

December Grade: B-

Final Grade: A+

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: