BARNSLEY defender Peter Ramage insists caretaker manager Micky Mellon can count on the Reds players’ backing to become the next full-time Oakwell boss if he throws his hat into the ring.
This time last year, the Scot was looking for employment in the game after being sacked as Fleetwood manager, but now opportunity potentially knocks for the 41-year-old, two divisions up at a Championship club following the axing of David Flitcroft.
Mellon has refused to be drawn on whether he would like the Reds post permanently, partly out of respect for good friend Flitcroft and the position the club’s hierarchy find themselves in.
But his stance is also due to his desire to keep the team focused ahead of Saturday’s clash at his former club Burnley and to avoid any unneccessary distractions.
That calm approach worked a treat ahead of Tuesday’s outstanding victory at Brighton, but that said, if Mellon orchestrates another positive result at Turf Moor, then the clamour for him to become the full-time manager will start to grow in earnest.
Yet while Mellon may be playing a straight bat to any manager questions, his players see no reason why he can’t be the man to succeed Flitcroft.
Mellon has already made his own tactical mark, moving Tuesday’s goalscorers Paddy McCourt and Jacob Mellis into more central attacking positions to great effect and his message to the players to play ‘with the shackles off’’ also yielded fruit.
On Mellon’s credentials to take over, Ramage – fit again after a spell out with a thigh injury – said: “I don’t see why not. He’s an experienced manager and experienced football man and if he wants the job, he’s got the backing of the players.
“It’s pure speculation at the minute who is coming in and who is not and there are different names linked to different jobs every other day.
“(But) Mick’s been brilliant. He’s a manager himself and stressed that when he took over that he knows how to handle these situations.
“He’s a really nice bloke and a guy I really like working with and for. He made us feel at ease and made us go out there with no pressure (against Brighton). There wasn’t really any pressure on us and everyone expected us to go out there and get battered to be honest, especially after what happened on Saturday. But his influence helped us.”
Commenting on his position, a non-committal Mellon added: “I’ve got to be respectful to the people above me. All I have been asked to do is carry on being employed by them. That is what I am going to do to the best of my ability.
“I am sure that when and if the club decide they want to act and put someone in permanently, I will be the first to know.
“Until I am told otherwise, I will continue with the job I am doing and the powers-that-be above me will be doing their due diligence in, hoping to get the right man in; the most important thing is to carry this great football club forward.
“It’s important they get the right man as you can’t keep chopping and changing managers and expecting a football club to progress. That’s for sure.”
Mellon dedicated Tuesday’s win at Brighton to Flitcroft, with the former Blackpool midfielder admitting to being gutted at his departure.
The former Blackpool midfielder went on to reveal that Flitcroft and fellow backroom staff members Martin Scott and Guy Proctor, who also left the club on Saturday, all passed their congratulations to the players following the stand-out victory – regardless of their obvious hurt at the weekend events.
Mellon said: “I have spoken to him (Flitcroft) regularly. He is one of my best friends and while this is football, he will hopefully be one of my best friends forever. He is a good guy and just because a footballing situation goes against you, it doesn’t stop (friendship).”
It wasn’t just Mellon who felt Flitcroft’s departure acutely, but also the players, according to Ramage.
But the loan defender says that a professional focus and a bid to remedy Barnsley’s parlous Championship predicament is their main concern now – for the good of everybody connected with the players and the football club.
Ramage said: “I really like Flicker and I have spoken to him since he’s left as I got on well with him and have a lot of time for him. It was a bit disappointing to see him lose his job, but with the situation we are in, we can’t let things affect us because we need points and to climb the table.
“He certainly meant a lot to us, but at this present moment in time – without being disrespectful – we’ve got a job to do to try and get us out of this mess.
“We are playing for the club, families and friends and everybody associated with yourself. It’s never nice to be in that situation at the bottom. But we’ve got ourselves into it and it’s up to us to get out of it. Hopefully, we can.”