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Feeney's urging teammates to be fearless
PERPLEXED assistant manager/player Warren Feeney believes Salisbury City should be unfazed on the road and “express” themselves regardless of intimidating scenarios.
The vocal Northern Ireland international has watched his team lose 12 times away from south Wiltshire which is interfering with their play-off challenge.
Only two wins in their past nine matches has left City in need of some serious goals to hoist them back into the promotion mix, starting with north Welsh outfit Wrexham on Saturday (3pm).
“I’m not sure whether there’s any fear in the players but when I was a footballer I loved going away because the pressure’s off,” the 33-year-old said.
“I can’t put my finger on it but if you’re a professional footballer it doesn’t make a difference where you play. The park’s the same size.
“It doesn’t matter whose spectating, the players are out there to do a job and you have to performto your best ability. Fans are fans and you need to play football.
You can go and express yourself. But I don’t know what it is with us.”
During Feeney’s heyday, he relished lining up against star-studded teams in packed arenas, which is why he struggles to understand why City suffer from stage fright.
Among the 46 caps he earned for his country, one of which came at a deserted stadium, an experience he described as “horrible”.
“I wouldn’t like to be someone who says people cannot play in front of fans because top players do it week-in-week-out,” the father-of-four continued.
“You cannot go to big places and bow down, you have to perform.
“I loved it and I’ve been fortunate enough to play at some great places in front of massive crowds. Every footballer should be aiming to play in front of large capacities as it’s the best job in the world.
“I’ve played in an empty stadium in Serbia for Northern Ireland – because our fans were banned – and it was horrible. You could hear the press talking.
“You want fans at games and I cannot understand what the problem is with our away form.”
But turning the coin, excluding Saturday’s result, City have outclassed many oppositions on home soil.
Nonetheless, Feeney still feels they lack recognition for what the club’s masterminded this season considering they were tipped as red-hot favourites to be relegated come teatime on April 26 at Chester, who are ironically in a dogfight.
“We need to kick on and see who wants to go to the next level,” added Feeney, who’s ruled out of the season with a hamstring injury.
“How far do the boys want to go?”
“I was a bit shocked when I came here after being in the Football League for many years. But it's a great club, the chairman and the board have been fantastic.
“Maybe call me old school, but I'm sick of people saying little Salisbury this, little Salisbury that.
Our boys are here on merit and deserve to be in with a chance of making the playoffs.
And I keep hearing teams say that we're just in this league to stay up. I'm not a believer in that.
“Hopefully, people are starting to realise, now, what the gaffer and chairman have done.”
Follow @Saljournalsport for updates from the Racecourse Ground.