“Know your enemy” – a well known phrase used in song by the likes of Green Day and the Manic Street Preachers and derived from the workings of ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu.
It is also a philosophy that is working well for Vanarama National League North frontrunners Solihull Moors.
Under the tutorage of manager Marcus Bignot, the Moors have spent the season in the upper reaches of the second tier of the non-league pyramid, as they look to return to the National League for the first time since Solihull Borough and Moor Green merged to form Solihull Moors in 2007.
Moors midfielder Darryl Knights, a product of the famous Ipswich Town academy, puts their impressive season down to the level of information Bignot and his coaching team gather on their opposition ahead of games.
He described former Crewe Alexandra defender Bignot (pictured below right) and his coaches as “different class” and admitted that a lot of their success is down to the analysis Bignot provides for his players.
He said “It’s all about knowing the opposition. The manager and the team around him are different class. They do a lot of research on the opposition, probably more than most clubs at this level and above.
We do a lot of analysis on who we are facing, we go into every game with so much knowledge about the opposition and that helps massively.
We plan well, we know what we are facing and it’s all in the preparation I think, that gives us the confidence and a professional attitude going into games”
Another factor in how a team prepares for the season is endurance training, it forms the basis of a team’s long term fitness
That success has given the Moors a four point lead at the top of the National League North table.
The likes of North Ferriby United, Boston United, AFC Fylde and Harrogate Town are all in close proximity with the league heading into the business end of the season.
Knights admitted that success is in the Moors’ hands but believes that a number of clubs are still in with a shout of winning the title come the end of April.
“I think five or six teams can still win the league. You have teams like AFC Fylde, Harrogate Town who are in good form, North Ferriby United are too. The league is so tight this season.
We just take each game as it comes and we have eight home games and six aways left. It is in our hands, we know what we have to do and we will look to finish off the season in style”
There have been several impressive aspects of the Moors season so far, none more so than their away form.
In their fifteen away games this season the Moors have lost only once, albeit a 6-0 hammering at fellow title contenders Harrogate Town just two weeks ago.
Carrying on that form will go a long way to sealing promotion for the West Midlands club, with five of their six away fixtures coming against clubs currently sitting in the bottom half of the table.
Their form on the road is down to, what Knights calls “a brilliant togetherness”.
“We have always gone about a season with the aim of winning all of our home games and picking up any points we can when we have away games, any point away is a bonus.
We have a brilliant togetherness that every successful team possesses, we have that in abundance. We are going in the same direction and the players, the staff and the whole club are doing that.
Luckily this season we have won a lot of games away from home”
Whoever comes out on top come the end of the season will be “worthy winners” according to Knights.
The former Newport County man believes that the National League North is brimming with talent this season, citing the example of former Moors striker Omar Bogle (pictured left), now with Grimsby Town, as the primary reason for his belief.
“It is a strong league and it is getting stronger and stronger every season I think.
You look at the league and you wonder how some of the players aren’t playing at a higher standard.
For example last season we had Omar Bogle and obviously he went on to move to Grimsby Town but in all honesty he could and probably should be playing in the Football League.
There are others in the league who can do what he has done. The standard is very, very high and it is only getting better. It is a very tough league to compete in and whoever wins it, hopefully it will be us, will be worthy winners”
Knights is hoping to play an instrumental role throughout the remainder of the campaign.
His season started well, as he scored six goals in the club’s opening six fixtures of the season before injury halted his good run of form.
Now, free from injury, he is targeting a return to the scoresheet to help his side over the line in the promotion race.
“I started the season really well and got a few goals but I have had an injury that set me back a bit.
I am starting to find my feet again and I just want to get back amongst the goals again.
We are lucky to have some great players, players like Stefan Moore, Andy Brown and Akwasi Asante are scoring regularly for us. We all have to do our bit, we all have to pull in the same direction and chip in with goals to get us to where we want to be, hopefully I can play my part in that too”
Interview: Mark Carruthers
Images: Solihull Moors FC / www.actionimages.com