Challenge is daunting only if we fear it, says Flitcroft

NEW Barnsley manager David Flitcroft has set his relegation-haunted side a safety target of eight wins to maintain their Championship status.

The Lancastrian, 38, was officially unveiled by the Oakwell club yesterday afternoon.

He has signed a deal for the rest of the season, and wasted no time in setting out his side’s mission over the next 19 games.

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Barnsley have won just six league matches out of 27 this term so steering a course to safety appears an arduous task for Flitcroft, but it is one he is confident of achieving.

Flitcroft, who helped orchestrate Barnsley’s first home win in the Championship since September 1 in Saturday’s highly-impressive 2-0 derby victory over Leeds United, said: “I am really excited to have been given the opportunity to manage immediately at Championship level.

“People say I have come into a daunting situation and I admit it is a difficult position that we are.

“But it is a challenge I will attack with no fear and I have told the players they must feel exactly the same way. Any challenge is only daunting if you fear it.

“We have got to relish and embrace it and go out and win it.

“I know what is needed and the players do and this group are ready for the challenge. I also believe they are absolutely good enough to rise to it.

“We have got to keep the momentum going from our last two games – I am confident we can win this battle.

“I think eight wins are needed and that will be enough to see us safe.”

Flitcroft, who will be assisted by ex-Fleetwood boss Micky Mellon and former Rotherham United defender Martin Scott, is the first to admit that he was not the preferred choice to be managing Barnsley.

He also accepts circumstances have played into his hands after Sean O’Driscoll and Terry Butcher turned down the job before he presided over the excellent weekend win over Leeds.

But Flitcroft, who insists his style of management will be different to that of his predecessor and good friend Keith Hill, is determined to cash in and earn himself a longer-term deal in the process.

Flitcroft, previously linked to vacant management positions at Rochdale and Bury in the past year, added: “I did not really find this job. The job found me.

“During the match against Leeds, I felt secure that they really wanted me to lead. I felt then the fight for survival had really started.

“No two managers are the same and I am different to Keith. I now want to forge a relationship with these players and an exciting future.

“I want to sell the players my energy and enthusiasm, and show the fans what I am about. They will see in me a loyal, adaptable and professional manager.”

Barnsley managing director Don Rowing has urged Flitcroft to grab the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ at Oakwell and earn himself an extended deal come May in the process and build on his encouraging work as caretaker-boss, which saw him win two out of three matches.

Rowing added: “It’s a good challenge for David and an opportunity of a lifetime and I am sure he will grasp it with both hands.

“We had seen the performances of the team and felt that it would be in the interests of the club to continue to give it that stability and continuity into a very hard run-in for the rest of the season.

“Everyone will have to be working in the same direction to achieve our aims and I am sure we have got the team capable of doing that.

“The main thing in all our minds is that we have got to concentrate our minds between now and the end of the season on what we are trying to achieve.

“We must try and keep our status in the Championship. It’s our seventh year at this level and we won’t let it go cheaply. I know it won’t be through lack of effort through David and the players.”

Flitcroft confirmed he will be looking to strengthen the squad with ‘two or three’ loan signings before the closure of the transfer window, with Rowing stating that the Reds’ board will help him in any way they can.

On outgoing moves, speculation continues regarding the future of highly-rated defender John Stones, with Rowing confirming the club have fielded enquiries for the 18-year-old.

Stones is rumoured to be a target for Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Southampton, but as of yet, no club has made a bid.

An offer would be considered by the Oakwell board, but Rowing insists Stones, who signed a contract extension in August keeping him at Oakwell until 2015, will be not sold on the cheap.

He added: “We have had interest and enquiries. But nobody has slapped their money on the table and you can’t consider anything unless there is something there to consider. What I will say is that we would not let him go cheaply.”

wanted: Barnsley’s teenage defender John Stones, seen in action against Sheffield Wednesday, has been the subject of enquiries from other clubs but managing director Don Rowing says no firm offers have been made for him.