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Ex-AFC Bournemouth star Feeney: Chairmen need to look at young managers
Feeney, who followed Howe and Tindall into management at the start of this season, has played his part in helping steer Salisbury to within touching distance of the Football League.
When Mikey Harris, 28, became the youngest full-time manager in the country last summer, he persuaded Feeney to join him with the offer of a player-assistant's role.
“The call came out of the blue,” said Feeney, who holds a UEFA A coaching licence. “I had done a bit of coaching at Plymouth and had opened some soccer schools back home. It was a no-brainer for me because I saw it as the next step.
“I love playing and dread the day when I have to hang up my boots. I started our first three games and we lost them all - I thought I had made it easy for the manager! I haven't played much since, just a few bits and pieces from the bench.”
Feeney, who was this week linked with the vacant manager's job at Linfield, admits his partnership with Harris is very much a case of good cop, bad cop.
“When you are a player, you only have to concentrate on your own performance but it is very different when you are on the sidelines,” said the 46-times capped Northern Ireland international.
“The manager is into his psychology and is a very positive person. We are learning from each other. He gets the best out of the lads using his methods and let them know if they are out of line. I'm a positive person as well but there is also a bit of a ruthless streak.
“I have been in dressing rooms where you had to have rhino skin to survive! As a player, I responded to being told what I was doing wrong. Our partnership works very well.”
Feeney, who arrived at Dean Court on a free transfer from Leeds in 2001 and remains a good friend of Ian Harte from their time together at Elland Road, netted 36 goals in 108 league games for Cherries.
Drafted in towards the end of the 'Jermain Defoe season', he was Cherries' top goalscorer when they were relegated in 2001-02 and also netted seven times during an injury-plagued 2002-03 campaign when they won the play-offs. He played alongside Howe and a number of the current backroom staff.
“Eddie reminds me of our manager,” said the 33-year-old. “He eats and sleeps football, is into his analysis and also has a ruthless streak.
“I have taken advice from Eddie, Jason and Purchy (Stephen Purches). You always want to learn and bounce ideas off people. After what Eddie has achieved, he is someone you would be stupid not to listen to. People say they are having a great season and they are. But, knowing Eddie, he will be thinking they can go on.
“Chairmen need to look at young managers and Lee Johnson is another one. I was at Oldham and know what their budget is. It seems to be swings and roundabouts when it comes to appointing people but it needs a breath of fresh air and Eddie has taken that across the line.”
Feeney, who has played in all three tiers of the Football League and in Scotland, is preparing to face runaway Conference leaders Luton at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium on Saturday, the club he won promotion with in 2005.
“We are a point outside the play-offs and it is a big game,” said the striker. “I didn't know much about this league when I arrived and people kept telling me we were among the favourites to go down. People may say we have already over-achieved but we have got to strive to go on again. We are that close and have got to try to make something of it.”
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