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The Non-League Football Paper

Play-offs are now a must says Salford City joint-boss Anthony Johnson

SALFORD CITY joint-boss Anthony Johnson says there’s no chance of him and Bernard Morley thinking they’ve made it now they’ve become full-time managers – and he’s told the Ammies to make sure they book their spot in the play-offs.

The serial-promotion winning duo are in the process of leaving their day jobs and the squad will move to full-time next season.

It’s all part of the club’s ambitious ‘Class of 92’ owners to reach the Football League, while their Moor Lane ground is currently undergoing a big upgrade.

But Johnson hammered home the importance of the National League North outfit keeping their foot on the pedal during this season’s run-in.

“We’ve got to get in the play-offs,” he told The NLP. “When we’ve won promotions we’ve always been in a bit of a fight. There’s a bit of breathing space at the top for Fylde, but from second to eighth there’s six points separating everybody.

“So if you have a bad run now you’re out of the play-offs and you can end up falling right away. We’ve got some tough games coming up with Stockport and Chorley.

“But the other side of it, you can cement yourself in the play-offs. We’ve got to make sure we stay in the play-offs. Once we’re in there we know we’re as good as anyone – but everybody else will be saying that as well. We’ve just got to get there. It’s the run in now; we can see the finish line.”

Since taking over in January 2015, Johnson and Morley have taken the club from Step 4 to the brink of Non-League’s top tier with two promotions on the bounce.

In all, it’s four successive promotions for the duo after a double with Ramsbottom United where they started their management careers in 2009 in the North West Counties League.

Opportunity

It’s a rise that bears a striking resemblance to Lincoln City’s management team Danny and Nicky Cowley, who began at Step 5 with Concord Rangers. Johnson says they can learn from the brothers in how to transition from part-time managers to full-time – but he issued a reminder that it’s new territory for everyone.

“The club have got the plans in place,” he said. “Gary Neville did a presentation to the players and staff on Monday evening to tell them how it’s going to work. There’s ex-professional players in there who have done it before, but for the majority of the club it’s brand new and something they’ve never experienced before.

“We don’t want to see it as being a bit of a ride. It’s a big thing for us all. I’m not one of those who says the hard work starts now because it doesn’t, the hard work is ongoing all the time, but we’ve got to learn and adapt so quickly and understand how it all works.

“It’s a bit like the Cowleys. We can look at what they’ve done and take note of it because you can carry on and push forward. We’ve been given an opportunity, it’s down to us now.

“They’ve given us a two-year deal, but it’s not a case of ‘get your feet under the table and enjoy yourself.’”

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