Salford City have been the talk of the lower leagues in English Football, after finding themselves in the fourth tier after back-to-back promotions throughout their non-league run.
The success of the team has skyrocketed in their recent history, being owned by billionaire Peter Lim as well as six ex-Man Utd superstars from the ‘Class of ’92’. But have Lions of Salford met their match in the EFL?
Back-to-back promotions in at any level of sport is a fantastic feat and demonstrates incredible improvement, vision, hard work and good management. Back-to-back promotions at the higher end of non-league football landing themselves in the professional leagues are all the more noteworthy.
However, the pressures and demands of the EFL is a whole other kettle of fish for Salford to stay afloat in. Therefore, a further promotion last season might have been a little too much to ask for. But expecting the team to be a fairly strong force throughout the season, and finishing in a mid-table 11th place.
As the club continues to improve, asking the lads to contend for promotion next season seems a reasonable projection, they won three of their four league games last season.
But pre-season has thrown a spanner in the works for Salford City so far. Despite several ins and outs going on for the club. The team is still good enough to have come away with positive results in these pre-season games.
It started with a 4-1 defeat to Crewe Alexandria, an arguably strong side where Salford featured a trialist. After a long period away of football, this result can be swept under the rug. Especially as the boys went on to beat Lincoln City in their next game, a League One side.
The boss Graham Alexander went on to push his side even further, facing Championship side Preston North End but losing 3-1.
Striker Ian Henderson has been on form pre-season, playing exceptionally well and bagging two goals so far. Hence why he should have been putting them away for fun against Stockport County, Salford’s Conference division local neighbours. Unfortunately for him though, they were beaten 1-0 by the lower league side.
This is a very up and down pre-season for Salford, and it is difficult to gauge what it means for next season, as Alexander’s side faced very skilled opponents and the team sheets were often shuffled.
The results and performances suggest that Salford can put in a good fight against higher league sides, possibly due to the club’s clever transfer strategy of acquiring experienced players from their current division or higher. However, the team needs to gel and this could hinder immediate success for Salford, they might need another season in the fourth tier before they can look at promotion to the third.