The number one candidate: Michael Flynn analysed

Manager Career

Rally the troops he did. He had 12 matches in which to overturn the deficit, taking over a club that had won one in 20. He had the same players as Graham Westley and a seemingly impossible job on his hands. Having seen Wesley play a 3-4-1-2 he kept the same formation, making a handful of personnel changes. In his first two matches, they registered back-to-back wins in the league for the first time in 14 months.

They lost games against Blackpool, Portsmouth and Plymouth, all eventually promoted, but won three in a row to leave them needing a final day win against Notts County to stay up. In a thrilling finish, Mark O’Brien bagged a late winner to keep them in the Football League.

On that final day, Flynn showed bravery in switching to a 3-5-2 formation, not the first time he’d moved the system around to suit the opponents. It certainly worked.

The following season was defined by a strong cup run, but it took away from their league form. They were genuine play-off contenders, as were we, but a draw with Spurs came at the end of a run of 13 games in which they lost once. They beat Leeds in that run, but following the Spurs encounter they fell away from the top seven, starting with a 3-1 defeat at the Bank. They won just four matches between 30th January and the end of the season, finishing 11th.

Last season they impressed though. They kept 17 clean sheets in the league and had another great cup run, beating Leicester City and Middlesbrough before going down 4-1 to Manchester City with Jesus, Mahrez and Sane in the side. They avoided defeat in their last ten matches, winning six to sneak into the play-offs, including their 1-0 win against us. Having held Mansfield over two legs, they succumbed to a late Connor Jennings goal in the play-off final.

This season they’ve already claimed six clean sheets in a row and are undefeated with 15 points from their opening seven fixtures. They narrowly lost to West Ham in the League Cup having beaten Cambridge in round one.

He has his UEFA Pro License, gained at the same time as Thierry Henry who he counts as a personal friend, and he obtained a 2:1 degree in BA Sports Journalism and Media Law.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Transfer Market Hits and Misses

In terms of budget, Newport are not a team with money to burn. Their transfer business has always had to be a fine balance between value for money and quality. One aspect of his dealings I have been impressed with is the quality of striker he’s taken to Newport.

Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt both scored 14 last season and both are players who are well respected at League Two level. They’re strong players who could surely have commanded ‘bigger’ moves, which suggests to me that Flynn is a manager that players want to play for.

He does like a physical striker as much as a goalscorer and had Frank Nouble in 2017/18, as well as Dominic Poleon this season. I don’t rate Poleon personally, but he would certainly fill a squad place with a manager who likes two up front.

He’s played the loan market well; he took Shawn McCoulsky from Bristol City before the striker had a big reputation, as well as Antoine Semenyo and Goerge Nurse. McCoulsky has since made a permanent move to Forest Green for a decent sum and should be a big player for Mark Cooper this season, with Semenyo impressing me at the Bank last campaign. Regan Poole was borrowed from Manchester United last time out as well, another big loan deal that worked wonders.

Tristan Abrahams and Corey Whitely have also arrived this summer, showing an eye for a striker. That’s one thing that he might struggle with looking at our squad; his current Newport roster includes six strikers.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Tactics

He prefers a 4-3-1-2 formation, that’s the ‘go to’ set up at present. He did try 4-4-2 against West Ham in the cup, but Corey Whitely and Robbie Wilmott were on the flanks; Whitely isn’t what I’d consider being a winger.

At times last season he toyed with a 3-5-2 and did try 4-4-1-1, the closest to our current formation, in one game. They won 3-1 away at Yeovil with Wilmott and Ben Kennedy in the wide areas. The most popular set up for Newport last season was 3-4-1-2; I can’t see us going to three at the back, especially not with the current crop of players, although it would solve the Bolger question.

His previous tactics may be shaped by the lack of funds available to bring in the wingers, or that may be his formation and the way he likes to play. If that’s the case, I could see some issues as our current squad really is geared towards a 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 or the usual 4-2-3-1.

To conclude this piece, I’ve tried to put our current squad into the 4-3-1-2 formation he currently operates. With the odds dropping to 1/3 now, we might soon find out how Michael Flynn and Lincoln City fit together.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Poor old Akinde can’t even survive an article about a manager…

    I like Flynn a lot. My extra thing from those you have detailed here is that he nearly set up as an estate agent. He has experience of work outside of football and that to me always seems to help in management. Some different ideas. Similar to the Cowleys, but also understanding other areas of people management.

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