Why Hartlepool won't be intimidated by moneybags Salford, backed by Man United's Class of 92 stars
Nicky Featherstone is adamant Hartlepool United will not be intimidated by moneybags Salford City.
High profile signings, big wages and managerial changes - it’s fair to say the Ammies have made their presence felt since confirming their ascent to the National League in the summer.
Some have turned green with envy due to their big spending, while others have simply chosen to pur scorn.
Featherstone, though, says cash in the bank makes no difference when the referee blows the whistle this evening.
He says the Pools squad fear NO ONE in the league and have absolute faith in their own ability. “In terms of the stature of the club, Hartlepool United are a much bigger club, but the money pumped in there from the Manchester United boys has been incredible,” said Featherstone.
“They have come up and look like they are now starting to get themselves going after a slow start.
“It doesn’t matter to us who the opposition are. We want to win games and we go in with the right mentality.”
This one might be billed as new money v real money, but it is also a clash between two of the division’s form sides.
Salford occupy fourth in the table, ahead of Pools by just one point and one place.
Featherstone is keen to see Pools’ winning run on the road - now at four on the bounce - and their unbeaten stretch in the fifth tier - nine games - continue at Moor Lane.
“We are looking forward to it - as we look forward to every game now,” said the midfielder, who has netted a career-high three goals this season.
“The confidence is high - we feel we can win every game. There is a winning mentality at the club at the minute and long may it continue.
“We are unbeaten since early March away from home so we must be doing something right.
“It doesn’t matter who the opposition is - it is all about us.
“We are going in the right direction, towards where we want to be at the moment.”
Competition for places is high at Pools - and ahead of this evening’s clash, Featherstone says no player feels safe in the starting side. And that’s no bad thing.
“There is a lot of big characters this year - there is a togetherness. We all enjoy spending time in each other’s company,” he said.
“I think you can probably see that on the pitch, before the games, after the games.
“Everyone has to be on their toes, though.
“Nobody’s place is set in stone in this team. Every player is pushing each other to constantly improve. “And you know if you let your levels drop you will out of the team quickly as there are players on the bench ready to step in.
“We have a job to do on the pitch and we hope to continue doing that on Tuesday night.”
Featherstone is keen to continue building the seemingly tight relationship he has built with the players around him, particularly fellow goal-getting midfielder Liam Noble.
“My job is still just on front of the back four, it is just I have had a few opportunities to get forward,” said Featherstone, who was part of the Pools side who drew 1-1 in the FA Cup against Salford back in 2015.
“With Nobsa (Liam Noble), Woodsy (Michael Woods) or Paddy (McLaughlin) filling in I have the opportunity to do that this year, which is nice.
“I think I have said it before - I have intelligent lads around me, we all know where we should be and cover each other.
“It is a good, happy, confident dressing room. We have a good squad.”
One player who again expected to lead Pools out at Salford is central defender Andrew Davies.
The skipper was a surprise name on the teamsheet for Pools in the weekend win at Halifax Town and despite having been out for six weeks, he managed to get 67 minutes under his belt in West Yorkshire.
The same again is expected tonight, especially with Peter Kioso being suspended for the clash.
“He is a big player for us, he has played at a very good level,” said Featherstone.
“He is a leader, a talker on the pitch. And the big thing for us as a team is that he wins the majority of the first headers. It gives us the chance to stay high and get up the pitch.
“He is a massive player for us.”