Former Newport County manager Michael Flynn. Pic: Getty Images.

Giant-Killer Mike Flynn Tells Newport County: You Can Chop Down Manchester United

By David Parsons

Everyone knows Sunday’s FA Cup clash between Newport County and Manchester United is one of the classic ‘David v Goliath’ ties of the fourth round.

But when you hear former County boss Michael Flynn describe it as “the biggest game in the club’s history” then you realise the enormity of the occasion.

Flynn knows all about the romance of the cup having led County to victories over Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough, earning a draw against Tottenham Hotspur, and facing Manchester City in the fifth round.

He loved the days of pitting his managerial wits against the likes of Leicester’s Claude Puel, Spurs Mauricio Pochettino, Man City’s imperious Pep Guardiola and Brighton’s Graham Potter when he was in the County dug-out.

He then faced Brendan Rogers when he was at Leicester City during his time at Walsall.

Those FA Cup runs with the Exiles were heady days for his side, and now he is delighted to see one of his successors, Graham Coughlin, hogging the limelight and getting ready to thrill the nation once again when the Red Devils come to Rodney Parade this afternoon.

Three times Flynn has guided League 1 sides into the fourth round and in 2018-19 steered County into the fifth round with a magical run that began with a 2-1 win away at Met Police.

Former Newport County manager Michael Flynn. Pic: Getty Images.

They got past Wrexham after a replay, beat former Premier League champions Leicester 2-1, overcame Middlesbrough at the second attempt before falling to Pep Guardiola’s Man City marvels.

Add in trips to Wembley as both a player and manager with the Exiles and he has been involved in many of the great days at his home town club. But even he admits that a win this afternoon would top the lot.

“They were great days for the players, the fans, the club and for me, but I’m just so excited about this weekend’s clash with Man United. For me, as an ex-Newport player, manager and a current fan, it has to be the biggest game in the history of the club,” said Flynn.

“Graham has done a great job getting them this far and know it’s all about the players having the self-belief they can play against the big boys. I can guarantee you that at least 40% of the players in the County side, as well as the home fans, will be Man United fans deep down and now they have the chance to upset them.

“It will be the biggest game of their careers and they will need to be at their very best to stand a chance of causing an upset. But it can happen!

“The Premier League teams are playing football for roughly 50 weeks of the year, so you need half-a-dozen of their players to have an off day. There is bound to be fatigue for some of them at this time of the season.

“The gulf in terms of budgets, squad sizes and quality may be huge, and it’s only getting bigger, but this club has already proved it can rise to the biggest of occasions. What Graham Coughlan has done on a limited budget in pulling together an honest group of players that works hard for each other is fantastic.”

Graham Coughlan Newport
NEWPORT, WALES – JANUARY 20: Graham Coughlan Manager of Newport County during the Sky Bet League Two match between Newport County and Wrexham AFC at Rodney Parade on January 20, 2024 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Flynn, who recently left his job at Swindon Town, will be involved in today’s game as a pundit for BBC Wales. He was on the terraces with his son watching the win over Wrexham last weekend, and liked what he saw.

“It was great being able to go to the ground as a fan with my son and enjoy a game without any pressure. They played well and the crowd were magnificent, as they always are,” he added

Flynn has also had a taste of the FA Cup this season with his former Swindon side. They faced National League club Aldershot in the first round and went out 7-4 at home in what he described as “an unbelievable result”..

That once again underlined to Flynn that anything can happen on any day in the FA Cup. But can the spirit of 2017-18 return to enable County to add not just another Premier League scalp to their collection, but also that of one of the most iconic sporting brands in world sport.


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