DAVID FLITCROFT says his late father John is a major driving force as he bids to keep Barnsley in the Championship – possibly at Huddersfield Town’s expense.
The 39-year-old Oakwell manager and younger brother of former Manchester City and Blackburn star Garry is within one win of sealing the Reds’ second-tier status.
Barnsley looked doomed to the drop when Flitcroft stepped up to replace Keith Hill, to whom he had been assistant manager.
But they have won nine and drawn six of 20 league games under his command, and victory at Town on Saturday would maintain the Championship berth won in 2006.
A draw would be enough for Town to avoid the drop into League I – but it would leave Barnsley sweating on results elsewhere.
It was five years last Saturday since John Flitcroft died, and David visited his grave in Bolton en route to his side’s home game against Hull, who were beaten 2-0.
“Anything I have done is down to my upbringing,’ said Flitcroft, a former midfielder for Preston, Chester, Rochdale, Macclesfield and Bury who was later assistant manager to Hill at Rochdale.
“I had an incredible leader in my dad. My mum is an incredible woman. I’ve got a brilliant family, the best.
“My dad taught me work ethic, courage, never give up and if someone wants to fight you, fight them.
“If you don’t beat them, then find another way to fight them. He always maintained that.
“He is still my driving force. He leads the family still. I have just got to make sure I do him proud and become the dad he was.
“When you have been taught by great people, you can teach people yourself. That is what I want to do. I don’t just want to improve footballers.
“I think it is my challenge and my goal to improve people as human beings. I am close to the players, and I can see in their eyes they are giving everything.
“A lot of Championship clubs have groups of players where there are factions or cliques, but not here. Ever since I arrived, I have been breeding that.
“If you get the right characters and lead them right, you get performances. When you’ve got the resources we’ve got, you have to have something different, and our difference is spirit.
“It is a team performance. It has to be. Teams at the top end of the division might have won games with individuals, but we haven’t got individuals who you can give 20 or 30 grand to. We’ve got players who have come up from League II or I and are fighting for the chance to stay in the Championship.”