Both managers at Oakwell head into today’s televised derby under the microscope in varying degrees, with Owls chief Dave Jones’s position the more perilous, particularly if his side suffer a bad defeat.
The situation today has parallels with last weekend when Flitcroft and Middlesbrough counterpart Tony Mowbray went into the game at Oakwell with their positions under a fair bit of scrutiny with their sides at the wrong end of the Championship table.
Some respite was afforded Flitcroft, whose side claimed the points in a 3-2 success, while Mowbray – subjected to chants of ‘Your’e getting sacked in the morning’ from the 2,200 Boro fans in the away end with Boro 3-0 down at half-time – was shown the door by chairman Steve Gibson on Monday tea-time.
What happened to Mowbray and Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway, who quit his post this week, has highlighted the precarious side of the management game in which you can not take anything for granted, according to Flitcroft.
The Reds chief, who master-minded last season’s ‘Great Escape’ from the drop, is defiant and determined to stick around at Oakwell for a good while.
He said: “No-one in football is protected. But what happened this week makes you realise where you are at in the football food chain and understand you can never take anything for granted.
“You have to love every minute of what you are doing. When you see Ian Holloway and Tony Mowbray leave their jobs, it makes you realise you have something to fight for and hang on to and try and make better.
“Certainly, managers losing their jobs gives me an inner verve to try and work well at this job.”
On the situation of his dug-out rival this afternoon, Flitcroft believes the Owls are in safe hands.
He said: “Dave’s been around the block and he’s a top guy and good performer. Dave will know his dressing room and what it needs and know exactly what he needs to get out of trouble.”
Flitcroft says his Reds side will continue to provide on-pitch protection to enable mercurial potential match-winner Paddy McCourt, whose wonder goal against Middlesbrough lit up proceedings last weekend, to continue weaving his magic.
The intrinsic skills of the Northern Ireland winger, nicknamed the ‘Derry Pele’ look likely to be a key weapon in the Reds upturn, with his team-mates charged with laying the platform for him to sparkle.
Flitcroft said of McCourt, who had to leave the pitch after his goal due to a bout of sickness: “At times, the lads protect him and have to do more work because Paddy’s playing. But they realise how important he could be to us in creating and scoring chances. He can be a real threat in this league.
“I have seen him go past top players in this league; against Leicester, he went past Danny Drinkwater – who will know all about him – and Andy King as if they were veterans whose legs had gone. He has got that dynamic capability to go past people.”