Flitcroft has ability to get Stags leaping
MANAGER IS SO ENTHUSIASTIC
IT’S a tough job to follow Steve Evans. However, David Flitcroft has done it brilliantly at Mansfield Town.
Having a cause has always been Flitcroft’s mantra, and he told me making his family proud was his. He works daily to make the best of what he has, trying to improve in every way.
He then seeks this from his players and staff. Flitcroft was terrific company on the UEFA Pro Licence course which we were part of a few years ago.
He would always be on top form, in the thick of the action with discussion topics but also eager to listen and learn off others.
On the training pitch, his enthusiasm was infectious and he absolutely loved his job.
One task on the Pro Licence was to visit another industry and spend time there learning about how it functions and the lessons learned that could be transferred to football.
David went to the family-owned Warburtons bread-making factory, which began with one shop in Bolton and is now the market leader in the country.
Warburtons strive day in, day out to produce the best product they can, with the same high standards needed with every loaf… sounds familiar?
Flitcroft no doubt has admirable leadership qualities and values, the human side learned from Keith Hill, whom he considers one of the best in that regard.
The Mansfield boss worked under Hill as assistant at Rochdale and one of his greatest strengths is in how to man-manage players.
Whilst working under Hill at Rochdale and then Barnsley, Flitcroft was like a sponge, absorbing the manner in which Hill dealt with the daily situations that occur managing a group of men. He saw how Hill spent time to get to know his players thoroughly.
Flitcoft has taken that on a stage now, taking them out to dinner, meeting their parents and finding out what their motivation is. Be that money, cars, to make their family proud, whatever it is, uncovering a motivating factor has been key to how Flitcroft gets the best out of his charges.
He arrived at Mansfield after departing Swindon, who were in the play-offs at the time – it appeared a gamble. However, like his time at Bury, Flitcroft felt he could build something of substance at Field Mill.
After finishing three points outside the play-offs, Flitcroft set about reducing the average age of the group whilst bringing in a batch of young, hungry players.
Pre-season told a tale as the Stags won three games out of four against Championship opposition, and they drew 0-0 in the other game versus Sheffield United.
The Stags carried this form into the new season with an opening day 3-0 win over Newport County which was followed up by a 6-1 demolition of League One outfit Accrington Stanley in the Carabao Cup.
Mansfield are still unbeaten away from home in the League Two, which is a fantastic feat.
Of the players brought in, none has made as big an impression as striker Tyler Walker, who has 11 goals so far.
Signed on a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest, Walker has made an incredible impact, although he has great quality in and around him in flying winger CJ Hamilton and fellow forward Danny Rose.
Rose went on the transfer list in August after being linked with clubs higher up, although he has been big enough to accept he made a mistake and requested to withdraw his desire to leave.
He has been welcomed back with open arms, another sign of Flitcroft’s man-management skills bearing fruit.
Rose, however, has been put in the shade by Walker’s exploits, though he will have a huge part to play if Mansfield are to stage a promotion push.
I expect the Stags to be sandwiched somewhere in the top seven and in with a chance come the end of the season if they can keep their forwards fit and firing.
ON SONG: Tyler Walker, seen here in action against West Brom, has impressed on loan at Mansfield and, inset, manager David Flitcroft