So, who has surprised you? And impressed you?
If I was to answer that myself I’d say David Flitcroft who’s had such a great start as Barnsley manager since his old mucker Keith Hill got the boot at the end of December.
Flitcroft thought he’d be on his bike too once the club had brought in a new manager.
He, and we, certainly expected that.
After all, Sean O’Driscoll looked to be first choice but decided no. Then Terry Butcher looked set to come all the way from Inverness. He had an interview and decided to stay up in the Highlands.
So, to Flitcroft (or ‘Flicker’ as his friends call him) they turned and to outsiders it almost looked like the ‘any port in a storm’ option. After all, if the No 2 was the right man for the job, then why not appoint him in the first place?
But persuasive things had been happening. All emanating from the way Flitcroft had gone about the job; the way he had conducted himself and the response from the players.
The Barnsley directors, their ship holed and listing and in danger of being cast adrift near the bottom of The Championship, decided they could do much worse than allow him to continue what he’d started.
So far, it is difficult to think any other than he has got just about everything right.
Firstly, the most important thing, results. Six wins and a draw in eight games.
Secondly, he really has got a feelgood factor going and there appears a togetherness surrounding the squad.
At the recent home game with Millwall there was a real feeling to the goal celebrations when they shared them with Flitcroft and the bench. The crowd seem to have sensed the new mood that has been engendered.
He talks impressively and with real feeling. The passion is more understated than demonstrative but is clearly there.
And he’s also made some really smart signings.
In other words, he’s hardly put a foot wrong so far (that’s definitely the mockers on their FA Cup trip to MK Dons tomorrow then!).
Now this is only a start. The early weeks. But sometimes, whether watching a player or seeing a manager, you get a positive feeling. Barnsley might just have made a very good move here. I shall note his progress with interest.
ONE surprise is that not too many Mario Balotelli stories have emerged from Italy. Yet.
The one I really like was from a Press conference where an Italian reporter asked him if he was offended by the remark of AC Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi some weeks ago that he (Balotelli) was a “rotten apple”.
Before he could answer, the club’s director general jumped in suggesting to the female reporter who’d asked it that it was never said and wasn’t accurate. He then asked for “sensible questions”.
But the reporter was having none of it. She took her phone out and showed a video of Berlusconi saying: “If you put a rotten apple into the dressing room, you’ll infect everyone else.”
Follow that Mr director general!
THE BBC are ditching Colin Murray from their Sunday night Match of the Day2 programme. You may not agree but the sooner the better.
While they’re at it, I wish they’d replace him on the Radio 5Live Friday night sports slot from 7 o’clock. I used to thoroughly enjoy it!