HAVING spent two seasons with Falkirk, Ryan Flynn is used to battling against the odds.
That experience of playing David is, according to the Sheffield United winger, now proving invaluable since he joined a League One goliath.
“I’ve been in both situations,” Flynn told The Star. “I know what both faces of the coin look like and that’s definitely a help.
“There aren’t any easy games when you are up there to be shot at because the people you are playing against are desperate to get one over on you and prove a point.
“They give it absolutely everything. I know because I’ve been there myself.”
Danny Wilson, the United manager, peppers his press conferences with reminders of the psychological burden being cast as favourites for promotion places upon the South Yorkshire club’s squad.
The sight of Notts County, beaten by Stevenage in midweek, becoming the fifth team since August to drop points after posting a positive result against Wilson’s charges underlines his argument about the level of effort their opponents invest.
Flynn, whose career north of the border was punctuated by a spell with Liverpool, acknowledged Tuesday evening’s victory at Hartlepool provided another example of how supposedly inferior sides raise their game when United hit town.
“Sometimes, when you aren’t expected to win, you view it almost as a free game,” he said. “And if that’s your mindset then it can make things very difficult for the team you are playing against.
“You don’t feel under any pressure whatsoever and that can bring out the best in you because you’ll try things that in a different situation you might not.
“We found out last season that there are
some really good teams in this league with some really good players.
“I don’t care what anyone else might say. We never take anyone for granted and always treat people with respect.
“Having the right attitude is vital because, especially in our position, if you don’t match your opponents commitment then you are going to be in trouble.
“Fortunately. we’ve got a ‘never say die’ spirit about us too.
“In Scotland we’ve got a saying that ‘the first hit is a free hit’. Nobody shirks a challenge and it’s a really tough,” Flynn added.
“I think having that type of background has put me in in good stead. It made me grow up pretty quickly.
“The weather back home can also get pretty terrible in winter so, if you’ve played in Scotland I don’t reckon
you’re going to get fazed too much by difficult conditions.
“Those matches taught me a lot.”
He stands 5ft 8in tall and weighs only 140 pounds, so Flynn emergence following the departure of Stephen Quinn places him at the vanguard of Wilson’s campaign to prove that touch and technique can overcome physical prowess in arguably England’s most uncompromising division.
The 24-year-old, who is expected to make his 41st ap
pearance for United against Leyton Orient tomorrow, is also responsible for helping to ensure they take greater advantage of the chances being created during games.
Despite remaining unbeaten in league competition this term courtesy of Paul Gallagher’s late strike at Victoria Park, Wilson’s charges have scored more than once in only two of their opening 10 outings - a conversion rate of 13 per cent given they head to London having engineered 107 shots on goal.
“We all want to contribute in that area,” Flynn said.
“The better the ball we can put in for the other lads up front, hopefully the more likely they are to stick it away.
“I want to get a few (goals) myself and it’s important that I do. But it’s also part of my job to make sure the service is good for others too.”
Flynn did exactly that when, having seen Hartlepool’s Steve Howard cancel out Dave Kitson’s first-half header, he provided the pass which enabled Gallagher to condemn Neale Cooper’s men to defeat.
Wilson, speaking at Shirecliffe yesterday, described the Scot’s centre as “superb”.
“It cut out and wrong-footed five defenders,” he said. “The finish was excellent but so was the delivery and the way the ball was put into the box.”
The vision Flynn showed during a nippy night in the North-east might have provoked wild celebrations in the away dug-out but, across the technical area, the mood was understandably much more sombre.
“I don’t think Neale was too happy,” Flynn admitted.
Teams and ref
LEYTON ORIENT (possible): Allsopp, Sawyer, Chorley, Clarke, McSweeney, Cox, Griffith, Smith, Cook, Rowlands, Lisbie (4-4-2).
UNITED (possible): Howard, Hill, Collins, Maguire, McMahon, Gallagher, Doyle, McDonald, Flynn, Kitson, Blackman (4-4-2).
David Phillips. Averages 3.43 cautions per game and a sending off every 3.5 matches since Football League competition resumed in August. Sentoff eight players, including three in one fixture, last term.