Gary and Phil Neville and Co have given their club the edge over their National League North rivals.
THE words iPad, leadership and video analysis, are probably not ones you would associate with Salford City’s joint managerial team of Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley.
But having spent an hour with them at Moor Lane on Saturday after their 3-0 National League North victory against Kidderminster Harriers, it is hard not to warm to the pair and be impressed with the work they are doing.
As soon as you arrive at the ground there is a buoyant family feel to the place that is sadly absent from many football league venues.
The work being carried out on the ground is ongoing and exciting and it is already a match for teams in higher divisions.
On the pitch, progress is continuing as well.
In July, following two promotions in three years, owners Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt rewarded Morley, Johnson and some of the first-team playing squad and new arrivals, with full time contacts.
Morley said: “The tools and resources the club have given us this season is brilliant, so in our own mind we can’t fail.
“It’s not just about me and Jonno, there’s the owners and people behind the scenes that really deserve a pat on the back as well. We know people are watching, but it’s nothing like the pressure we put ourselves under to succeed.”
And they are learning and learning quickly.
The 5.30am get-up for ‘normal’ work has been replaced by a 6.15am ‘lie in’ and a day analysing, preparing and planning for the next league challenge.
Johnson explained: “It sounds obvious but that extra contact time we now get with the players is priceless.
“And that doesn’t necessarily mean on the training pitch. It might be sat down on a Monday morning looking back at things with the squad or individuals on the iPad or overhead projector.
“In normal football at this level you just don’t get that because your next game is Tuesday night, where you meet an hour before kick-off, and you’ve got to focus on that particular game and not look back.”
It is a view Morley shares and he believes it has been down to little tweaks and listening rather than wholesale changes.
He said: “We’re open minded. It was never going to be a case of ‘it’s our way or the highway’. We’re working with experienced lads and asking them what they think, letting them have their ideas.”
And there was evidence of this working at the weekend.
On the stroke of half-time, and before substitute Jack Redshaw’s second half hat-trick, Kidderminster were awarded a penalty which was saved by Salford goalkeeper Max Crocombe.
At 0-0 it was a huge turning point in the match and one Johnson thinks might have been helped by bit of prior planning.
Morley said: “It’s psychological at times, but in the changing room we were able to show our keeper which direction the penalty might go and what their striker’s goal record was like this season.
“Now, we can’t take credit for the save itself, but it’s a little detail we might not have been able to execute had we not had the few days before to prepare.”
The discussion ends after a brief insight into the new managerial and leadership challenges they’re faced with on a daily basis.
Johnson said: “Again, it’s different. I’m reading Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, which I’ve just started, so if you’ve read it please don’t tell me what I’ve got to look forward to.
“But books like that and a different perspective like that help.”
Morley smiled, adding: “Yeah, and if it gets us up this season, I don’t care”.
And you get the feeling, that again, they might just do it.