Mike Flynn says he’ll be taking inspiration from a Premier League title contender as he looks to inspire his Newport County AFC side into the play-offs by the end of the season.
A boyhood Liverpool fan, Flynn was given an audience with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp and his players at training earlier this week after an invitation from a personal friend.
As Flynn explains, he’s hoping to use the experience to ensure the Exiles finish the season on as strong a footing as possible.
He affirmed: “Like I’ve said before, you don’t get any time off as a manager and I’m always looking to improve.
“I was very, very fortunate that I was allowed up there and it was a fantastic experience getting to speak to Jurgen Klopp afterwards, who treated me exceptionally well.
“Look, it was a surreal experience especially being a Liverpool fan, but it was just good to see the top professionals and how they do it day in day out.
“You don’t often get the chance to see them train and it was an unbelievable experience.
“The opportunity came about through my friend who’s the first-team coach there – Pepijn Lijnders – we did our coaching badges together.
“We always keep in contact and he’s a fantastic coach. I’ve seen Pepijn coach many times but seeing him in his environment – not just on the coaching course – he’s one of the best I’ve seen coaching wise.”
On meeting Jurgen Klopp: “He was very complimentary and like I said, he was full of respect and class. Again, you see that with the top managers.
“Mauricio Pochettino was class, Pep Guardiola was class and Jurgen Klopp has been class, albeit in a different circumstance where this was training.
“They’re at the top for a reason. The way they treat their players made it a very, very good experience for me where I learnt one or two things.
“It was fantastic.”
The first match of the remaining nine left this campaign is the relatively short trip to Yeovil Town – a side fighting for their life near the bottom of the League Two table.
County were in that position themselves just a few seasons ago and Flynn knows just how much the Glovers will be fighting to pick up some much-needed points.
The Somerset outfit will have a caretaker manager in charge for County’s visit to Huish Park, with Neale Marmon in temporary charge after the dismissal of former boss Darren Way.
The Glovers have gone off the boil of late with four successive defeats without scoring, but Flynn says County have to be on their game if they want to take anything from it.
“We’ve got to go there and try to pick up three points,” he admitted.
“We’ve still got a lot to play for if we can get a couple of wins.
“Yeovil are fighting for their lives, so it’ll be a tough game. New manager so we’ll have to see.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on what we do and if we do things to the best of our ability, we’ll get three points. If we don’t then we’ll lose.”
It’s fair to say that things didn’t exactly go to plan when County last faced Yeovil as the Glovers made off with a 6-0 victory at Rodney Parade on 15th September 2018.
But Flynn says tomorrow won’t be a revenge mission because his players should want three points in each and every game, regardless of previous results.
He continued: “No I don’t [think we owe them one.] It was just three points lost and they were better than us that day.
“They deserved to beat us and that’s it really. We’ve lost a few other games this season and it was just another three points gone.”
With the Oldham Athletic game being postponed last weekend, the Exiles have had 15 days since the last outing when they beat Cheltenham Town 1-0 at Rodney Parade.
There was movement all around the League Two table in the absence of a County match and they now know exactly what they’ll have to do to reach the top seven.
The gap to Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers in the final play-off spots currently stands at nine points but the Exiles do have two games in hand on Mark Cooper’s side.
“We know that we need to put a run of wins together,” Flynn stated.
“I want to keep going until the very last game of the season and then you never know.
“I hope we can find the momentum. Let’s have a look at 5pm Saturday and then hopefully we’ll have a win on the road, and it’ll give us a good platform then to go into the week after.”
This morning’s press conference was the first time Flynn had the opportunity to speak face-to-face to the media since the sad news that defender Fraser Franks had been forced to retire on medical advice.
Flynn commented: “It’s a very unfortunate situation that I’ve never been involved in either as a player or a manager.
“It’s not the easiest thing that you have to deal with, but we’ll be there to support Fraser and help him on his road to deciding what he wants to do in the future.
“The club are doing that extremely well and I think it goes to show what kind of group we are that the boys paid for him and his wife to go on holiday to Tenerife.
“That’s the kind of community spirit that we have at this football club.
“It shows the kind of atmosphere I try to bring to the club and credit to the boys, I didn’t recommend it and they came up with the idea their selves.
“It’s a great gesture from them.”
In other player news, it was announced on Wednesday that Tyler Forbes had joined Salford City on loan for the remainder of the campaign.
“When he played for us, Tyler did really well,” Flynn explained.
“He’s just been unfortunate first with injuries and then Regan [Poole] has come in and done exceptionally well.
“I thought it was right for Tyler that he had the chance to get something for next season and be part of a squad going for promotion.
“It also gave him the opportunity to go closer to home. He’s got a young family who he misses, and it could kickstart his season.”
During the international break, Keanu Marsh-Brown made his international debut for Guyana and helped them qualify for the Gold Cup for the first time in their history.
Starting from the first whistle, Marsh-Brown played 80 minutes in the 2-1 victory over Belize and set up the winner for Emery Welshman.
Asked if that occasion might kickstart his County career, Flynn said: “Only Keanu can answer you that.
“It’s down to him now to put the work in and to show that he wants to take his career further. He’s got a good opportunity now in qualifying for the Gold Cup and I’m hoping it’s given him a new lease of life.”
In additional positive news for the club, Joe Day was rewarded for another superb season when being named in the team of the season for League Two.
Flynn added: “Like I’ve said lots of times before, Joe is a fantastic professional.
“I’ve said for a number of years that he’s the best goalkeeper in the league and it goes to show that I know what I’m on about.
“He’s finally been voted it and one or two others maybe should have been in there as well.”