Graham Alexander says it is business as usual in preparing Salford City for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup clash at Marine.
The Ammies’ first stage in this season’s competition is a visit to The Marine Travel Arena in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the competition; only the second time the club has appeared in the final qualifying stage.
A win will send the victors through to the First Round and a chance to play teams from League One and League Two, but before thoughts of an FA Cup run can wander, the manager says Saturday’s game is the focus.
“If you saw our preparations over the week going into Saturday it’s the same as we’ve done every other week against teams in our division. We never changed our focus or our concentration, or our preparation on the opponent; we know how to prepare ourselves.
“The importance of preparing ourselves and being focused on our performance is always the thing we focus on the most, but we have to take into the equation the abilities of the opposition, their strengths and their possible weaknesses and we have to try and expose those, but as preparations going it’s exactly the same as every other week.
“If you’re not at it, and I thought we had a little taste of that against Braintree last week, that if we take our foot off the pedal a couple of notches then we put ourselves at risk of not getting the result we want.”
Scalp for other teams
Ranked top of The Vanarama National League, Salford are theoretically the strongest team in the competition while opponents Marine lie in 18th in the Northern Premier League; two leagues below.
At this stage in 2015-16 The Ammies found themselves on the other end of a similar situation when Southport visited Moor Lane and were defeated 1-0, and Alexander expects Marine to make it difficult, especially on home turf.
“At this stage we’re the team who are a bit of a scalp so we expect it to be a competitive environment, a volatile one, but one where we can go there and compete in and if we compete well and we’re focused on our job then our quality will come to the fore but we have to do the basics of football first.
“I’m expecting a tough game, wherever we play, we expect a proper challenge and I wouldn’t expect anything different on Saturday.”
However Salford have won their last four matches on the road, are unbeaten in six, and a big part of that has been the travelling support. With a good turnout of Salford fans expected, the manager says they can play their part in Liverpool:
“It was great down at Dover because that’s a bugger of a journey that, and all in one day, and the weather wasn’t too great, but the numbers we took and the atmosphere they created for the players, the players themselves were talking about it in the changing room after the game.
“That’s the sort of impact our supporters can have on the team, and I know we’ll take numbers across there, it’s not as far as we have travelled which is great and it gives the opportunity for more people to come.
“Their backing has been superb so far and we want that to continue.”
Expectations for the Cup
Following the highs of reaching the Second Round proper in 2015-16, The Ammies haven’t fared so well in the Emirates FA Cup, going out in the Third Qualifying Round in 2016-17 and the Second Qualifying Round last season. But again, Alexander says the focus is on one game at a time, and that until Saturday is over there will be no thinking about Monday’s draw.
“We’re going to try and win the final!” he joked.
“Listen we want to win the next game, that’s it, it’s a cup competition but we have that focus on the league, win the next game, so the FA Cup, or any cup competition, is the same thing; you’ve got to concentrate on the round you’re in and if you’re successful you look forward to the draw.
“But we can’t set any targets, apart from Saturday’s game and we want to win the game. That’s the reality of it and that is the nuts and bolts of it really, you can’t look past the next game and it’s a big one for us.
“It’s a special competition for anyone in English football, I think the history and tradition of it is there for any football lover. From the youngest age, everyone can remember their own club’s good cup run or one particular game, so to be involved in it as a player, a coach or a manager is always a special occasion.
“It’s a little bit of a break from the league programme for the first time this season, we’ve worked hard this week and hopefully we’re ready for the game.”