Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner has signed a new three-year contract after guiding the U’s to promotion. In his first full season as a manager, Bonner has guided Cambridge back to League One and they will play in the third tier of English football for the first time since 2002.
Bonner has turned Cambridge into an exciting, attacking team in just a short period in charge. Promotion is the highlight in what’s been a terrific season for the U’s. Tying Bonner down is the start of their plans for next season as they look to make a positive impression in League One.
Mark Bonner Celebrates Cambridge United Promotion With New Contract
Bonner Rewarded for Terrific First Season in Management
The U’s manager is Cambridge through and through. Prior to becoming manager, Bonner worked as a youth coach and had been with the club since 2011. He initially took over on a caretaker basis in early 2020 after Colin Calderwood’s departure.
He would eventually be given the job full time and the club has reaped the rewards ever since with a second place finish in his first full season and a return to League One for the first time in almost two decades. Bonner has won 32 of his 61 games in charge and now has his sights on keeping that record going in League One.
Speaking to the Cambridge United website about Bonner’s new contract, majority owner Paul Barry said: “Mark has shown himself to be an exceptional coach, a great leader across the whole Club and a fantastic ambassador for Cambridge United on and off the pitch.
“He would be the first to say that our success this season has been a team success – and he would be right – but his personal contribution to it in a uniquely challenging season has been huge and we are all so pleased that he will be leading the Club on the next stage of this exciting journey.
“He is one of our own, cares deeply about the Club and the community we serve and his new contract is very well deserved.”
Bonner will be relishing the challenge ahead as he gears up to enhance an already talented squad for League One. They will be confident of making a positive impression next season as well as cementing their place in the third tier.
It’s Been a Season to Remember for Cambridge United
The 2020/21 season will be one that lives long in the memory of anyone associated with Cambridge United. Despite the fans missing out on a memorable promotion, they will be thrilled with the team and the football on offer.
Their intentions from the start of the campaign were clear. The U’s began with five wins from their first seven league games. They lost just two of their opening 13 league games, collecting 25 points in that run. Cambridge endured a difficult December, losing five of their seven games and collecting just six points but they clicked into gear during 2021.
In total, the U’s collected 49 points across 2021 – only Bolton Wanderers have picked up more points in that time. Mark Bonner’s team clicked into gear at the right time and stormed to a deserved promotion.
Paul Mullin and Wes Hoolahan the Driving Forces Behind Cambridge’s Success
Cambridge owe a lot to League Two’s Player of the season Paul Mullin. The striker had the season of his life- ending the campaign with 31 league goals. In the process, he broke several club records and had a stand at the Abbey Stadium named after him.
When Mullin reached 25 league goals, he broke David Crown’s Cambridge record of goals scored in a league season set in the 1985/86 season. He would eventually go on to break Crown’s record for total goals scored in a season.
While he may be in the twilight years of his career, Wes Hoolahan continues to sparkle in English football. At the age of 38, he adds another promotion to his CV – the fourth of his career having been promoted with Blackpool and twice with Norwich City which included a Premier League promotion.
He is the diamond in Cambridge’s midfield with his pure quality on the ball and immense work rate. His 34 appearances brought seven goals and eight assists as he continues to show his importance to Cambridge’s young squad.
Mark Bonner Will Be Determined to Keep Core of His Squad Together
A season that ends in success always see players attract interest from other clubs. Several Cambridge players enjoyed terrific seasons and no doubt there will be admirers from afar looking at Mark Bonner’s team.
However, he will be confident in keeping the core of the squad together. The likes of Luke Hannant, Kyle Knoyle, Paul Digby and Joe Ironside are key cogs in the Cambridge engine. Knoyle has enjoyed a sensational season at right back, starting every single game and even contributing with two goals and six assists. The former West Ham United youngster is only 24 and certainly the best years of his career are ahead of him.
Paul Mullin has taken the headline with the goals but Joe Ironside has proved a terrific signing. Since arriving from Macclesfield Town, Ironside has scored 14 league goals and set up seven others- a terrific season which has gone under the radar. His contribution to Cambridge’s success has been equally as important as that of Paul Mullin.
Greg Taylor and Harrison Dunk have been there and done with it with Cambridge. Two loyal servants to the football club who now get the chance to express themselves in League One. Dunk will get a testimonial match after his ten years of service which has seen Cambridge return from non-league, establish themselves and now return to the third tier. Bonner will be determined to keep key experienced figures like Taylor and Dunk with the big challenges that lie ahead.
Certainly, it will be hard keeping the core together but Mark Bonner will be confident in keeping his key players. He will want to enhance the quality he already has as he plans for Cambridge’s League One return.
A Thoroughly Deserved Reward for Cambridge United’s Talented Manager
It’s been a season to remember for Cambridge and, certainly, Mark Bonner thoroughly deserves a new contract. He has transformed the club and taken them to heights not many would of expected.
Bonner wants to play the right way and his players embody the passion he has for the club. They work hard, play vibrant attacking football and clearly are with the manager. It’s an exciting summer that lies ahead as Bonner plots success in League One.
Stabilisation in the third tier would represent an excellent season. While the challenge does lie ahead, certainly Bonner and his players deserve to bask in their terrific achievements this season.
Cambridge are building something special under Mark Bonner and as far as he and the club are concerned, the only way is up.
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