David Flitcroft has loved local derbies all his life and can’t wait for the visit of Notts County on Saturday (1pm) for his first one in charge at the One Call Stadium.
The Mansfield Town manager said it was impossible to say derbies are just another game when you see what they mean to supporters.
He said: “We played at Notts County quite early in my tenure here and scored a late equaliser, you could see what it meant to our supporters.
“The rivalry is brilliant. I am a Northerner and not far from Manchester. When the Manchester derbies weren’t there, the city was almost in mourning.
“Where I live in Bolton they have quite a few derbies and derby football is what the English fans are brought up on.
“We can say it’s just another game but there is an added significance.
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“We saw at Chesterfield what that Mel Benning goal meant to our supporters who travelled.
“If you an obsessive football fan, which I am, you understand about derbies.
“It’s my first home derby with Notts and it’s something that excites me, my staff and certainly the players.”
Notts arrive in trouble at the wrong end of the table with Neil Ardley in the manager’s seat for the first time for a League Two fixture for Notts.
“There is an added incentive for the Notts players with trying to impress the new manager,” said Flitcroft.
“They have had a turnover of managers this season. Neil is the third in one season which is probably unheard of when we are not even at the halfway stage.
“Questions have been asked of the players this season by two managers getting the sack, so they will want to put on a big performance.
“But we will concentrate on trying to improve what we are doing. There are big strides and improvements still to be made.
“Since I have come in I want to connect our fans with a brand of football they’ve probably not been used to for a while and I am sticking to that plan. Our owners and the board are backing that plan.”
Flitcroft said a front foot start was vital.
“How you start the game and your mentality is really important,” he said.
“On derby days at critical moments you have to be ruthless.
“We have to show that win at all costs mentality and commitment to the game plan.
“You have to have a purpose and energy to your work. Then the fans engage.
“That’s a key issue in any game of football, but probably more so in a derby.”
Flitcroft said he expected the usual ‘phenomenal’ backing of the home fans and so could not really ask for more than he’d been getting all season.
“Since I came into the building the support me, my staff and my players have received has been phenomenal,” he said.
“They have given us everything and I don’t expect any more or any less on Saturday. I can’t ask any more.”
Stags looked less than match-sharp after a 10-day lay-off in Tuesday’s 1-0 home Checkatrade Trophy exit to Bury, but Flitcroft said that was now gone and forgiven.
“At times you have got to forgive yourself and certainly forgive the players as football moves on really quickly. That’s the good thing with football,” he said.
“Of course we wanted to get to Wembley. That trophy represents a realistic chance for League One and Two clubs to get there. It’s a brilliant place to make memories.
“It’s an opportunity we’ve not taken. But I am a very positive guy. When one door closes, another opens, and we might get there at the end of the season.
“They have a great spirit and attitude and I will certainly forgive them for one 45-minute blip when we didn’t compete. You could see their disappointment at half-time.”