THE scene which greeted a smattering of staff and players on the first day of pre-season training

at Carrington on Monday was more non-league than League One, it is sad to report.

A handful of contracted players seeking information on the whereabouts of their wages were effectively unable to train as the team had no insurance, or a registered physio.

There was no first team manager, although by that stage a decision had been taken to bring former Cardiff City reserve boss Paul Wilkinson up from the footballing outpost of Truro, Cornwall.

A canny removal company might do well to drop a few business cards on the car park, given the mass exodus which is in operation. Several of last season’s promotion heroes are seeking employment elsewhere, Ryan Lowe’s Plymouth the most popular destination, and at present the Pilgrims’ team on the opening day of the season will be more familiar to Shakers fans than the one which lines up against MK Dons.

Perhaps it was the chaos on day one of training - when Bury also learned Manchester City were considering reclaiming Carrington - but there seems to have been a realisation that some footballing order must be restored, and quickly.

Advice was sought from the experienced former Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Jones, among others, on who would be available after an attempt to lure Frank Bunn to Gigg Lane was shelved. The answer, to many people’s surprise, was a 54-year-old with no permanent EFL managerial jobs on his CV.

Paul Wilkinson – at least to football fans of a certain age – is known as the moustachioed, curly-haired target man who played for the likes of Everton and Middlesbrough in the eighties and nineties.

His coaching credentials are largely below first team level, working to develop players at Leeds United, Norwich City, Cardiff City, Northampton Town and Grimsby. Yet he has had two caretaker spells in charge of the last two clubs on that list, both ending relatively quickly, and has also served as assistant boss to Jones, Russell Slade, Lennie Lawrence and others.

His arrival has been understandably lukewarm, given the vast uncertainty he has walked into. Many fans had been expecting to put their derby rivalries to one side and welcome ex-Rochdale boss, Keith Hill, who admitted earlier this week that he had spoken to the Shakers but felt it was “just not for me at this moment in time.”

Other local options, including ex-Ramsbottom United and Salford City pair Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson, were also mooted in the press.

But when Wilkinson appeared on the bookmakers’ radar overnight, eclipsing Hill as odds-on favourite, supporters were rather caught off-guard.

General manager Scott Johnson – himself a relatively new name on the ears of Bury fans - described the appointment as "a strong foot forward". But in reality, it was one step in an Everest-sized rebuilding operation that must now be accomplished, to a reasonable standard, in about a month.

Perhaps there are bigger issues to fill Steve Dale’s diary at present and his efforts to push through a CVA and rationalise debts, avoiding administration, may take precedence from a personal sense, even though others strongly disagree it is the way to go.

It is becoming clearer with each passing week that when purchasing the club from Stewart Day at the end of last year he did not appreciate the true scale of the job, nor the labyrinth of debt which is only now starting to unravel.

Salvaging any great support from the terraces now looks an impossible task as the celebrations of April 30 fade into the history books. Fans are handing back season tickets, which is a sobering thought for anyone.

This is usually the time of year to make predictions, even dare to dream. Yet such is the precarious nature of Bury Football Club at the moment, League One fortunes play secondary importance to keeping the club alive which, presumably, is still Dale’s ultimate intention.

But this week may have seen a ‘woken’ moment as outside help was sought to bring in Wilkinson and begin rebuilding a backroom and squad which has been demolished by the events of the last six months.

It is not known whether Jones, a respected figure within the game, will be offered any permanent role at Gigg or whether Wilkinson will be going this alone. There are signs, however, that the one-way traffic which has been witnessed in the last few weeks as player after player walked out of the door, will soon be reversed.

Wilkinson has plenty to prove, not least that he can graduate from being a successful coach to an effective manager in an environment which is unlikely to give him any grace.

Bury will start the League One campaign as rank outsiders and, potentially, with EFL punishments, should an insolvency event occur.

As managerial jobs go, Wilkinson might just have landed the toughest in the whole league.