Being manager of Salford City must have its good and bad points, but Graham Alexander tends to focus on the former. But after promotion to the Football League, inevitably the pressure will be on to do more…
Salford City are among the more notorious clubs to win promotion to the Football League in the last few years. The financial backing of Gary Neville, his ‘Class of 92’ colleagues and Peter Lim did not, to say the least, make them the most popular chaps in the National League.
Ambition can make you look pretty ugly, but while some of that has followed them into the Football League since promotion, manager Graham Alexander told the Totally Football League Show’s Adrian Clarke that he actually tries to use that as a positive.
“There was probably a little bit more last season,” Alexander said. “It was a little bit more intense. If we if we did lose a game, it was a big celebration [for the opposition] obviously.
“The connection of our owners with Manchester United and what they did – I think sometimes people think they’re actually playing against Manchester United. But this is part of the game.
“It always adds an edge to the game. That’s why there’s no mundane atmospheres or anything where we go. There’s always an edge to [every game], which I think actually helps the atmosphere and helps out the team.”
We want to be successful...we're a club that's in a hurry.
But will it help them to another promotion? And do they want that promotion this season? Their start to the campaign has been solid, with four draws, a win and a defeat, but these are early days in their first campaign in the Football League.
“We want to be successful and success for this club is trying to get to the next level. But there’s no determination to do it at the first point – as in ‘it has to happen’ [this season]. But we’re a club that’s in a hurry.
“We want to be successful as as all clubs do, and as soon as possible. I felt we had good players already in the squad and I didn’t want to disrupt that too much. We tried to add quality and we did do that.”
Alexander clearly benefits from the extra resources that few others at Salford’s level do, but does the pressure of working for such high-profile people bring with it extra problems too? Again, Alexander seems keen to look at that as a positive.
“I don’t think about when games going on – I’m thinking about the team and players. But I think it works both ways because if you if you’re doing the job well and you get praise from these guys – that’s great.
“I see it as a working relationship where they’ve employed me to do a job for them, they’ve put faith in me and I want to repay that faith. They are different from the usual owners you would find in most football clubs. But they’ve got great knowledge of the game. And what they’ve achieved in the game serves as an inspiration for myself and the other players in the squad.
“I have regular contact with Gary and about football aspects about the players and and tactics and stuff like that. But the rest of the guys are just there to support us from background. I think they probably just enjoy coming to the games and watching their team play, rather than getting involved in the nitty gritty.
“Gary’s a bit more hands on. He wants to be involved in the running of the club and everything and and me as a manager I need somebody like that to bounce off anyway.”
What they've achieved in the game serves as an inspiration for myself and the other players in the squad.
Interestingly, it’s clear that Alexander can’t rely solely on the backing of the club’s owners, as emphasised by having to change the team’s style of play last season – and back again.
“We had to do that two-thirds the way through last season. The pitches were in a right state, we felt we were game physically bullied, and we we turned ourselves into a more physical team, a little bit more direct, to win the games, to win promotion.
“This year, we’re trying to get the balance right where we’re playing the same type of football we were at the start of last season, but keeping that physical strength that we need. You want to be a team that hasn’t any visible weaknesses, if you can.”
Regardless of the popularity of the club, Alexander seems pretty content with life.
“I feel fortunate that I came in, hopefully I can repay the faith that was shown in me when I came in twelve months ago and continue the upwards curve that the club has been on for the last few years.”
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