Hands up; would be a football manager?
Up there alongside that of referees, chairmen and woman and the guy employed to look after Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium trophy cabinet, it must be, without doubt, one of the most thankless tasks in the modern day game. Over in Sheffield, the pair of Daves are feeling the heat - Weir’s Sheffield United are bottom of League One, and Jones’ Sheffield Wednesday are still searching for their first win of the season. Another Dave, Barnsley’s Flitcroft, is also under some serious pressure from the Oakwell faithful after an alarming run of both games lost, and goals conceded. Playing well and not putting away your chances, which both Sheffield clubs were guilty of last weekend, is one thing. But shipping five goals on three separate occasions, plus a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Wigan? That suggests an altogether more challenging problem, one which may yet prove beyond the inexperience of Flitcroft. He inherited the job full time after steering the Reds to safety last season - no mean feat, after their poor early season form. There is a school of thought in football that your second title is always harder to win than your first, maybe because the element of surprise has gone, and Flitcroft is learning this the hard way. His points total since taking charge last season would have seen Barnsley somewhere around the upper echelons of the table if it was replicated over the course of a season, but that will be of little comfort to him now as the Reds sit bottom of the table with just four points. His talent as a manager is obviously there, as last season’s heroics proved, but football fans have notoriously short memories and sharp knives when things start to go wrong. The signing of Jack Butland is a step in the right direction towards shoring up such a leaky backline, but the pressure is now on the likes of Messrs O’Grady and Dagnall to alleviate some of the building pressure. Another saying is that goals win games, defences win you titles - and I know what Flitcroft will be more concerned about at the minute.
n Probably the only manager in the region feeling comfortable in his seat this morning will be Paul Dickov, especially after Saturday’s derby win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. By all accounts, Wednesday were the stronger of the two teams and although not quite the stereotypical ‘smash and grab’ raid, Rovers’ victory was certainly a welcome one after their under-par display. Travelling to the Steel City, Rovers showed plenty of their own strength to come back with the points - a display almost carved in the image of Dickov. Rovers, though, still only sit five points above the drop zone, and it can all change in an instant. Then will be the time for Doncaster to show their mettle.