FOR someone who considered a move into journalism once a playing career that featured spells at Huddersfield Town and Bradford City had come to an end, Michael Flynn has proved remarkably adept at making headlines as a manager.
His feat of keeping Newport County in the Football League from a seemingly impossible position after taking charge a little under two years ago thrust the former midfielder on to the back pages of the newspapers in his native Wales.
But the FA Cup is what has truly made Flynn’s name in the national media. Having steered the Exiles past Leeds United in last season’s third round this proud Welshman took Tottenham Hotspur to a replay a few weeks later.
Newport followed that last month by claiming the notable Cup scalp of Premier League Leicester City before then snatching a last-gasp equaliser through Matty Dolan at Middlesbrough in the fourth round.
Should tonight’s replay be safely negotiated then Flynn and his County side can look forward to hosting Premier League champions Manchester City.
It is a huge incentive, though not one the 38-year-old County manager is allowing himself to even contemplate until his side have faced Boro at Rodney Parade.
Tony looked after us really well up there as I knew he would. He is not only a professional, he is an outstanding person and treats people with respect. We will try to do the same to them. It won’t be as nice as we had up there, but we will do our best.Michael Flynn
“I am not thinking about Manchester City one bit,” Flynn said. “Not a chance. This could end up like Bullseye – ‘Bully’s special prize, look what you could have won’.
“You start getting carried away and you see the boat floating off, and you end up with a rubber dinghy.”
Asked if he had considered what it would be like locking coaching horns with City manager Pep Guardiola, Flynn added: “I will start imagining that about 10pm on Tuesday night if we win.
“I have too much respect for Tony Pulis, too much respect for Middlesbrough Football Club and I am not an idiot. All I am thinking about is Middlesbrough.”
Flynn spent the best part of four years in the West Riding. He joined Huddersfield from Blackpool during the summer of 2008, but fell out of favour following the dismissal of manager Stan Ternent.
He moved to Bradford the following summer and went on to make 103 appearances for the then League Two club. It was during his time at the Yorkshire clubs that he completed a two-year BA (Hons) Sports Journalism degree at Staffordshire University.
His course work included an interview with former Wigan Athletic team-mate Jimmy Bullard that appeared in The Yorkshire Post, while the Newport-born then midfielder also spent afternoons after training updating the Bradford City website.
A return to hometown club Newport in 2012 meant any future plans for a media career had to be put on hold. Indefinitely, as it turned out, with the subsequent move into coaching proving that journalism’s loss was very much Newport’s gain.
Tonight, the 38-year-old comes up against another son of Newport in Boro manager Pulis.
“Getting a result against Boro would be absolutely huge for the football club,” said Flynn ahead of tackling the Championship hopefuls. “This game could be worth up to seven figures what with the prize money, extra money for going further than any other League Two club, TV money and another sell-out.
“Tony looked after us really well up there as I knew he would. He is not only a professional, he is an outstanding person and treats people with respect. We will try to do the same to them. It won’t be as nice as we had up there, but we will do our best.”
Boro’s home game against Leeds United this weekend is heading for a sell-out with 28,000 tickets having been snapped up.
Last six games: Newport County WLWDDL Middlesbrough DWWDDW.
Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).
Last time: Newport County 0 Middlesbrough 1; November 22, 1986; Division Three.