Barnsley: New boy helps Reds to set the standard

Micky Mellon.
Micky Mellon.

When someone is shown the door in League Two, it’s not often they then turn up just a few weeks later in The Championship.

That was the experience of Micky Mellon, newly-crowned assistant manager to David Flitcroft at Oakwell and now part of Project Barnsley.

Mellon was a surprise departure when Fleetwood got rid of him as their manager at the beginning of December. Newly promoted, he had taken them into the automatic promotion places although they had just slipped outside when the bombshell landed. Many are still trying to fathom the reasoning.

It looked extremely harsh from the outside but Mellon wasn’t unemployed for long.

He got a phone call from Flitcroft ... “Do us a favour, come and give us a hand,” he asked of Mellon.

They did go back a few years, playing against each other and doing their coaching badges together at the FA’s former coaching centre at Lilleshall.

“We spent a lot of time together and we just clicked. We’ve remained good friends and spoken once or twice a week over the past five years,” said Mellon.

The offer to help out started with the New year’s Day game at Peterborough and it snowballed from there.

“At that stage, with the club bottom, it wouldn’t have been realistic if you didn’t think they’d to win a a lot of games to stay up,” said Mellon.

“Then look at how many games we did win (it was nine) and yet only survived by a point.”

“So, at the beginning, we said we won’t put any pressure on ourselves and we took one half at a time. Not even one game at a time. Just small goals.

“We said to players they had to stay focused, to keep your standards because we won’t allow you to drop them. If they dropped off and dropped their standards, we were all over them.

“And they were told we would never allow them to do that, regardless of who they were.”

With a hint of how things will be run next season too, Mellon added: “They knew we were going to be tough on them with their standards. And no-one was allowed to get carried away. We’d be down on them hard if they did.

“It is important to learn from every game and we did that. We took something positive forward to the next game and, if it was something negative we’d try and fix it as a group.

“To their credit, all of them took it on board and we kept building up the group and how we all worked and it clicked. The response was great and you could see the spirit among them. So, when we scored, we all celebrated together because we had all worked hard for that moment.

“Everyone knew that if we were going to be successful, it had to be about being together, about us.”

He is looking forward to next season and emphasises that the intention is that the players will be treated like Championship footballers in the way that things will be done off the pitch.

“We want no excuses and the only thing they have to think about is their performance. “It’s about standards and staying above them and not dropping below,” he said.

And the goal next season - “Just to win that first match!”