RICHIE Barker may have missed out on the LMA manager of the year award for League One, but the Bury boss believes his nomination is a sign the club is heading in the right direction.

A contingent from Gigg Lane went down to the League Managers Association's annual awards ceremony in London on Monday to back their 36-year-old boss.

Predictably, Charlton manager Chris Powell picked up the gong after guiding the south east London club to the League One title, amassing 101 points in the process.

But the hard work done by Barker and his team to ensure the Shakers not only avoided relegation but finished in mid-table in their first season in the third tier for nine years was clearly not lost on the LMA hierarchy.

And that is something the young manager is understandably proud of.

“It was totally right that Chris won the award for what he has done at Charlton this year, but just to be shortlisted is a massive honour, both for me and the club,” said Barker.

“When we won promotion to League One, I think that everyone expected Bury to struggle, so I feel incredibly proud to end the season being mentioned in the same breath as people like Chris.”

And the Shakers boss admits that spending the night rubbing shoulders with the great and the good of football management increased his drive and determination to push Bury on next season.

“Our target will be the same – to hit that 50-point safety mark as soon possible,” said Barker. “After that, we will see how much further we can go.

“My main goal will be to try to make sure that, when we do go through a bad patch, we come out of it much quicker than we did last season.

“Without the two bad runs we went through, who knows how far we could have gone?”