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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 12:47 GMT
Buckley buoyed by Grimsby
By Pete Oliver

Alan Buckley
Buckley is in his third spell in charge at Grimsby

From a club looking all at sea, Grimsby Town manager Alan Buckley again has the Mariners rising like a spring tide on the east coast.

The man with the Midas touch, as far as things are concerned at Blundell Park, was brought back for a third spell in charge in November 2006 when Grimsby's League status was under threat.

Buckley has had to ride some choppy waters since but now promotion and Wembley are back in the sea air of Cleethorpes.

"I did not expect to go in and wave a magic wand and everything be all right. It was a completely different scenario to when I left.

"We were in the Championship and doing comfortably well. When I came back, players had moved on, we were two divisions below and the club was at a bit of a low.

"Now everybody has got a spring in their step and we have got a bit of pride back in the place," Buckley told BBC Sport.

Buckley's first six-year spell as manager saw him take Grimsby from the bottom division to Championship level before leaving to take charge of West Bromwich Albion.

When he left again in 2000, following three more years as manager, the Town had once more enjoyed a promotion and were still a Championship club.

With the results we've had there is a feel good factor

Alan Buckley

After that Grimsby struggled to keep punching above their weight and following two relegations Buckley was recalled to mount a rescue mission that saw Grimsby climb from 22nd to 15th place by the end of last season.

"It looked like we were getting it together. We found a system that suited the players and we started to play good football.

"We had a very satisfying run-in to the end of the season. It was mission accomplished," Buckley said.

Grimsby lost just four of their final 16 games but the momentum did not carry through the summer and on the anniversary of Buckley's third appointment, they were back where they started - three places off the foot of the League Two table.

Buckley added: "It didn't surprise me. We still had a lot of players under contract, although I'm not one for changing 10 or 11 players and getting another nine or 10 in.

People should have a spring in their step

Alan Buckley

"I like to work with what I've got, try and make it into what you want it to be and add to what you've got at the right time, rather than have major disruption.

"At the start of the season some of our football was fantastic but we did not take enough of the chances we were creating and then our form fell away a bit before Christmas."

With well over 1,000 managerial games behind him, Buckley is not the type of man to panic. And at Grimsby he had the faith of a board well aware of his record of success.

"I do like to be given time to build something and see it develop. In the past people have had rewards for giving me time.

It's nice for the supporters to be optimistic

Alan Buckley

"People here know me and know that given time that's when I produce the best results," Buckley said.

With everyone holding their nerve, Buckley, has duly produced results, largely with last season's squad bolstered by defenders Sam Hird and Rob Atkinson on loan from Doncaster and Barnsley respectively.

A 10-match unbeaten run from Christmas has brought the play-offs into view and also taken Grimsby to the northern final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy - a competition they won under Buckley in 1998.

Initially becoming harder to beat, in recent games Town have also been playing 'the Buckley way' in winning with a bit of style.

"In football if you win two games you're the best thing since sliced bread. If you lose two they want you sacked.

We have got a bit of pride back in the place

Alan Buckley

"As an experienced manager I take a more balanced view on that. But all of a sudden it's nice for the supporters to be optimistic," said 56-year-old Buckley.

"I'm too long in the tooth to say we are going to do something but we have given ourselves a chance.

"At one stage we were 25 points behind Chesterfield. Now we are six behind them and they have been in a play-off place for most of the season.

"People should have a spring in their step. We are also two games away from Wembley. It's a bit too quick to think about that in my opinion.

"But with the results we've had there is a feel good factor and people think things are happening again."

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