Keith Curle has been quietly impressed with the impact Sol Campbell has made since taking over as manager of Macclesfield six months ago.
The former Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and England defender was a high-profile appointment at Moss Rose at the end of November.
He inherited a club rock bottom of the Football League, having won just one of their opening 13 Sky Bet League Two matches.
Just a few weeks earlier they had also been humiliated by the Cobblers on home soil, crashing to a 5-0 defeat.
The fact it was Campbell’s first job in football management added an extra level to the challenge facing the 44-year-old, who had played out his entire football career in the top echelons of the sport.
There were plenty of doubters when he got the job, with people feeling felt Campbell would struggle to adjust to lift in the football basement, but he has done an excellent job.
It hasn’t been without bumps in the road of course, but the fact the Silkmen arrive at the PTS Academy Stadium on Good Friday with their survival fate in their own hands is an achievement in itself.
They edged out of the relegation zone for the first time this season a fortnight ago, and with four games of the season to go they are two points clear of the bottom two, Notts County and Yeovil.
Curle took a similar path into management as Campbell, taking on the player manager’s role at third tier Mansfield Town in 2002, and he has admired how his rival has adjusted.
“I know Macclesfield quite well, I know the owner, and I know the area because my family still lives up there,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I have been to a few of their games, it is a fantastic little football club and I have a lot of time for them.
“Sol Campbell has gone in and will be enjoying the challenges he is facing, although probably some challenges will be the kind he hasn’t had to deal with before in his professional career as a footballer.
“That is management though, and some of the things that get thrown at you as a new manager you think ‘surely this is not what I signed up to?’
“But you have to embrace it and enjoy it.
“I think Sol is enjoying the coaching, enjoying his time in the technical area, and enjoying his time trying to evolve the football club.”
Macclesfield’s 2-0 defeat at Forest Green Rovers last Saturday was their first loss in six matches, and they have only lost three of their past 11.
Anybody turning up at the PTS thinking they are going to be an easy touch could be in for a shock, and Curle is certainly anticipating a very challenging afternoon.
“Macclesfield have a good mentality about them and they will give everything they have got,” said the Town manager.
“They play with a freedom, they play on the front foot and they try and press.
“Macclesfield try to get people forward, they have the big lad (Harry) Smith as a focal point, they have good energy and good dynamics.
“They try to get the ball In the opposition’s final third as quickly as possible, and I think Sol has realised what needs to be done.
“He will have a playing philosophy, but he knows he may have to put that to one side at the minute because of the importance of putting points on the board.”