Mansfield Town went back to the classroom this week in a bid to get their automatic promotion bid back on track.
After last Saturday’s disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Crewe Alexandra, which left the Stags out of the top three and back in the play-off positions, boss David Flitcroft decided to do something different.
He has held meetings with the players during this week and also group and classroom sessions to, in his words, find out why we do what we do, and who we do it for.
“It’s been brilliant watching a group of men this week go to the depth of their soul, understand what it means to everyone and come out the other side of a brilliant week this week,” said Flitcroft.
“It has been different to what I have done before in management terms,” sdded the manager, who revealed that his father continued to be his idol.
“When I brought the ideas to the table it’s about what you strive for day to day, who you want to make proud and who personally has had that massive influence over your career. You can then start to understand why we commit so much.
“It was refocusing on that and going back to it. When I sign players and interview them I find out their cause. It was about re-iterating that.
“We have had a few new players (who were signed in the January window), so the sessions about what the players have committed to was beyond my expectation. There’s a similar line that runs through most players in their stories.
“Staff have done it. Players have done it. It’s just about opening up and getting men to talk about why they do what they do, and the emotional attachment to that.
“If you have got the abilities as a young player to run for the cause and run for someone else’s kids who want to get promoted, this is your opportunity to do it. It was powerful stuff. It has inspired me and my staff and hopefully the other way
“To achieve promotion, it has got to be a club as one. We have to be together and have a squad that’s unified by a common cause.
“Promotion and being successful is a memory that money can’t buy. It’s a memory that, when you’ve been there and achieved it, you want more of it. Success brings more success.
“We’ve reaffirmed to the group what it means, and it’s certainly one of the best things I’ve done as a manager. I’m proud of the group for what we’ve shared together this week. It’s unique and different.
“It’s totally blown me away if I’m being honest with you. Some of the back stories are quite incredible.”
Explaining what was his purpose, Flitcroft added: “You always want to make your dad proud. He was and still is my idol.
“He and my mum always drove us and they produced three footballing brothers - there’s not many!
“His teaching, the way he drove us, his tough love to make us better. He kept improving you and made us work hard. His work ethic was unbelievable.
“You get instilled with that and when you lose him you understand that your a dad and your children want to be proud of you. Now I’m a dad, I’ve got three boys.”
The manager said his family helped him to get through the tough days of knockbacks both in life and football.
He said he was grateful in the past week for the support of the club’s owners and staff after the knockback of the defeat against Crewe.
Flitcroft also revealed that he was driven to try to help players achieve their full potential.
“Making players better is a common theme in my management style, he explained. “I’ve always wanted to improve players. I was never the most talented player, I just worked hard.
“I can’t stand someone who doesn’t reach their potential. There’s something in me that drives me insane when a player who has got that talent (doesn’t use it). To not fulfil that potential is a waste.”