FOR two of Lee Johnson’s three predecessors in the Barnsley manager’s role, the run to the end of the calendar year has proved a time when the last rites have been administered.
David Flitcroft was shown the door at the end of November 2013, his good friend Keith Hill having departed Oakwell on December 29 in the previous year.
The former will be intent on increasing the anguish for the embattled Johnson at Gigg Lane this afternoon, with Flitcroft’s Bury welcoming his old club, who will be backed by 1,200 visiting supporters.
A statistical oddity reveals that Johnson is currently the longest serving manager in South Yorkshire – despite only being appointed in February.
But given the Reds’ torrid first half of the season, the 34-year-old, scrambling around for the precious currency of wins, a rewarding Christmas and New Year return is likely to be imperative in order for the above fact to remind intact.
Standing in his path today is Flitcroft, with ex-Reds players Kelvin Etuhu, Danny Rose, Jacob Mellis and Danny Nardiello unlikely to afford their former employers any favours.
Johnson, whose side find themselves in the relegation zone for Christmas after a disappointing home reverse to Wigan, which saw more disapproval from home fans, said: “I am sure he (Flitcroft) will have an added personal incentive to get a result.
“But for me and our team, it’s about going there and getting the three points, and I believe we can.
“Our performances have turned and we are close. We know we have to scrape through to January and hopefully bring in two or three quality players.”