Homegrown hero and evergreen Hoolahan help Cambridge to the top

Fan and former under-eights coach Mark Bonner is overseeing unlikely promotion push at free-scoring League Two club

It is a romantic rise that has the hallmarks of a homegrown hero making his name on Football Manager but, whereas that is a world of fantasy, Mark Bonner is calling the shots in the dugout having earned his stripes at his boyhood club. He started coaching Cambridge United’s under-eights almost two decades ago before roles as academy manager, first-team coach, assistant manager and spells in caretaker charge paved the way to becoming the head coach.

“Growing up in the area and having been a supporter as a kid, it is a very unusual [story] – I know that and I don’t take that for granted – but at the same time I haven’t won a competition to be here,” says Bonner. “You can’t do this role as a fan because fanatic behaviour is not what you need in this position. You need to be calm, stable and make good decisions. I love the club and I want what’s best for it but I have to make unpopular decisions sometimes to try and have a chance of being successful.”

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