ONLY several hours after the final whistle had sounded on his first game in charge could new Bury boss Dave McNabb draw breath and consider the enormity of what lay ahead of him.

Last Saturday afternoon he had watched his Bootle side knock Stockton out of the FA Trophy in front of 365 fans but by Monday morning he had been officially presented with the chance of leading two-time FA Cup winners Bury, a club now finally looking towards a brighter future after expulsion from the Football League and near extinction.

By Tuesday night he was being serenaded by more than 3,000 supporters at Gigg Lane after Gaz Peet had scored the only goal of the game to beat the Isle of Man, handing McNabb the perfect start as the 44th manager to take the Shakers’ reins.

All this before he had taken a training session, or even had chance to get a proper guided tour of the stadium which will be his second ‘office’ from here on in.

“If I’m honest, it has been a bit of a whirlwind,” said McNabb, taking a moment from his day job as a systems support manager at United Utilities to share his thoughts with The Bury Times.

“It was literally a case of Sunday and Monday getting things sorted, then the next day straight into the lion’s den, so to speak. But what an experience.

“Walking into Gigg Lane, it was amazing. I was in awe a little bit.

“I wanted to go in there and have a couple of hours walking around, getting used to stuff, but I had to keep my head and my mind focussed on the game.

“There wasn’t any time to sit and take it in. It was straight down to it.”

McNabb is by no stretch a rookie. He cut his coaching teeth at Manchester United and had a spell at Cheshire League Billinge Town before taking on the job that has, thus far, defined his time as a non-league boss. In four years with Rylands – now Warrington Rylands – he won three promotions and four trophies, including the FA Vase at Wembley in 2021.

That success tempted Macclesfield to appoint him in October last year. The partnership lasted just a couple of months and McNabb cited job commitments as the reason he left Moss Rose, but he has no regrets about taking on the Cheshire club, who like Bury, are rebuilding in the non-league.

“I look at the time fondly, even though I know it was quite a short spell,” he said. “There were some things we probably couldn’t get across as fast as we’d have liked to, in terms of implementing a style of play, but the results were good. I think we had a 70-72 per cent win rate, so on the pitch it was great, but the daytime training was tough, and I had some changes to my personal circumstances and got promoted at work, so juggling the two became very challenging.”

Such is the hectic schedule of the North West Counties League, McNabb and his assistant, Tim Lees, will have to learn more about the squad they have inherited on a matchday than on the training ground, at least for the first few weeks.

A data-focussed coach, NcNabb is realistic about how long it could take to put his own stamp on the Shakers, who won both their games after the departure of Andy Welsh to keep themselves at the top end of the Premier Division.

The new manager knows exactly what his top priority is in the short term.

“Getting to know what type of players I have got, what profile they are, and also what kind of people they are as well,” he said. “What makes them tick, what motivates them? Some players will need a rocket and some an arm around their shoulder, so that is a really important job for me now.

“We also want to get across the way we want to play football as well, the way we see Bury Football Club being successful, going forward. And that might take a bit of time.

“We have got games most Tuesday nights, so we don’t train, and it might take eight, 10 weeks before I have really had a chance to get the style of play across.

“I know a few of the players having come up against them, a few more I have worked with in the past and being in the game I have talked to various people about them too. I always get out and watch games too, so I do know a bit about what I have walked into.

“It is only when you work with someone that you get to know them as a person and I think that is what makes a difference in management, what lets you get the best out of players.”

Given his huge success at Rylands, who trod the path that Bury are looking to achieve themselves in the next couple of years, towards the top end of the Northern Premier, McNabb says he will borrow from his experience in Warrington but not look to make a carbon copy.

“I think there are elements of it, the way you work and the way your teams play will evolve over a period of time, anyway,” he said. “The back end of Rylands, I think things have changed a bit since then, and hopefully I can continue to evolve and improve in the coming years too. But I think the philosophy and the way we want to play will be similar.

“Things change in football and I think the more games you get under your belt, the more things you start to learn. We are hoping to put a lot of the standards and expectations in that I had in that time but I think the way we actually play will be slightly different.”

Alongside assistant manager Lees, a former Watford and Wigan Athletic academy coach who has also worked alongside Pep Lijnders and Michael Beale at Liverpool, McNabb knows there will be little margin for error as the Shakers look to scale the pyramid at speed.

“We know what the ambition of Bury is, to climb the leagues and ultimately get back into the professional game. And that is going to take a bit of time,” he said.

“There is a lot of noise around, the expectation is that the club wants to keep climbing and that they want to do it quickly, so there is pressure from that side of it. But it is something I enjoy, I want to be part of an ambitious club.

“How fast that goes, I don’t know. As everyone knows the leagues get tougher and tougher as they go up, they are massive steps, so there will be a time when we have to work around strategies based over a couple of years maybe, but right now the plan is to try and settle in, keep winning games and then see how far it takes us.”

McNabb saw quickly on Tuesday night what benefits a 3,000-strong partisan crowd can give – but he is also having to learn different ways of working in a Football League class venue like Gigg, and a fanbase that is breaking all records at Step Five.

“Working in a big stadium and with the crowd as big and loud as it is, with the songs and chants, there are some challenges like trying to communicate with the players during the game. Little things like that will take some getting used to,” he said.

“But I love the idea of this fanbase, being around it, and that game was truly special.

“We had a tough spell at the back end of the second half and the fans probably pulled us through it.

“Isle of Man were a physical, well-organised side with some good players in attacking areas, so there was a spell where they dominated the ball and the fans pretty much kept the ball out of the net themselves.

“Having that 12th man at times is going to be a massive difference for us.”

Bury still face challenges off the field, learning how to function efficiently once again at a level of football which is still unfamiliar to those who have rekindled their relationship with the town team.

But the club has finally woken from its nightmare and football is mercifully back on the agenda, McNabb joined a distinguished list of 43 other gentlemen, from Bob Stokoe to Les Shannon, Stan Ternent to Ryan Lowe, who can say they have managed the Shakers, and he is keen to make some golden memories of his own.

“When I looked at the background and some of the previous managers at Bury, some of the names on that list are incredible. If I end up having a career half as successful as some of them then I don’t think I will be doing too bad,” he said.

“The place is steeped in history and when you look at what happened to the club, what those supporters went through, what they had taken away from them, it was an absolute travesty.

“I am made up for them that they have a club to support again. I am sure there will be results and performances that they don’t like, and hopefully there will be lots that they do. The important thing is that they have their club back, the community has it back, and while we are here I can only promise that we will be doing everything we can to make the team successful and make those people happy.”