Former Salford City boss Anthony Johnson has told the Athletic that the club’s owner, Gary Neville, won’t let criticism of his decision to sack Richie Wellens get to him as the club’s seeks to make the play-offs at the end of the season.
Wellens was relieved of his duties as manager earlier this month, with the Ammies sitting just six points off the play-off places at that point and having just won the Papa John’s Trophy for the first time in their history.
It appeared to be a harsh decision but it is clear that Neville views the league as a priority and after picking up just one win in their previous eight league games leading up to the departure of the former Swindon Town boss, felt now was the time for a change.
Gary Bowyer has since come in as the new man at the helm, however that hasn’t stopped many people, including Neville’s colleague at Sky Sports Jamie Carragher, from aiming digs at the former Manchester United man for sacking Wellens.
Speaking to the Athletic about the sacking, Johnson, the first manager to be hired under Neville’s ownership was quick to brush off claims that the ex-Valencia manager could be affected by the negative comments on his decision:
“Criticism won’t bother him and he won’t lose sleep over people calling him out for what they say is double standards. Think what he did with me and Bernard (Morley); we won the league by six points and next minute, we’re done.
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“If he gets into the play-offs (this season), then he’ll say he’s made the right decision over sacking Richie. Football is ruthless and so is Gary.”
The Ammies are back in league action this Friday as they host Grimsby Town at the Peninsula Stadium as they bid to make up ground on Newport County in seventh place.
Time is running out for Salford in the race to make the play-offs and with just 10 games left to play, Bowyer has a huge task on his hands to get the current team into the top seven.
I like many other people didn’t agree with the decision to dispense of Wellens, but it’s done now and Neville must live and die by the sword going forwards.
You cannot fault his pursuit for success but I believe he has made an ill-informed decision this time around which could jeopardise their chances of potentially getting to League One.
Wellens should’ve been given until the end of the campaign at least and this decision to bring in Bowyer stinks of blind optimism.