The director of Class of 92: Out of Their League who followed the Manchester United stars who bought Salford City FC says he felt sorry over the extra pressure put on their manager.
Director Nick Mattingly filmed new Salford City owners Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt over the course of a season, as they tried to change the direction of the non-league club.
The extra scrutiny, he believes, took its toll on existing manager Phil Power.
“I felt sorry for the manager,” he said. “It’s bad enough to have the Class of 92 [as owners], but to also have a BBC film crew, how do you cope with that? It’s a tiny club that for years has just got by with a group of volunteers, and suddenly to be subjected to that level of scrutiny? Difficult.”
The series shows how the Class of 92 ended up sacking manager Phil Power at the start of 2015. He later branded Gary and Phil Neville “hypocrites” over how his dismissal was handled.
Mattingly said he understood why the owners decided to change the manager half-way through the season – new managerial team Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley secured promotion and led Salford to the First Division North title.
New managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley
“They never wanted to get rid of the manager,” Mattingley said. “They wanted continuity. They were very aware at the beginning of being the perfect owners, of not doing all those things that owners do. They had seen how owners work, and they didn’t want that.
“They didn’t want to interfere, and yet over the course of the season they learned an awful lot, and I’m sure they have an understanding now of what it means to be an owner. But it’s going to be a very different club. It’s a very different club now to what it was a year ago.”
This season Salford City are fourth in the Northern Premier League, three tiers down from Football League Two, and have an upcoming televised FA Cup first round tie against Notts County on Friday 6th November.
Mattingley said he’s intrigued to find out where the club goes from here – but isn’t sure whether he will be around to film it.
“When do players go full time? When they’re Conference?” he asked. “I think the season after next they will be talking very seriously about having a professional football club, and that will have impacts on the ground.
“If it moves ground, is it still the committee and the volunteers’ club? I don’t know. That’s always going to be the issue.”