I FOUND myself torn between the professional and the personal in regard to the surprising news exclusively revealed in the Argus last week pertaining to the futures of David Pipe and Mike Flynn.
The pair of them were the talk of the Bisley stand last Tuesday when County faced Wimbledon and rumours abounded that they were just a couple of several players not being picked because of financial reasons.
In other words, and these rumours were also circulating on Twitter and other forms of online media, it was being suggested that the Exiles were in meltdown.
I can think of few bigger problems at a club than a manager being dictated to over who he can and he can’t pick and it was imperative that the rumours were addressed immediately by the club.
Followers of our Twitter account, @argusoncounty will know that the club categorically denied the claims, with both Tim Lane and Dave Boddy dismissing it out of hand.
However, Tim Lane suggested we address the matter directly with boss Justin Edinburgh who contacted me a few hours later.
It was then that he explained the situation with Flynn and Pipe and it was Edinburgh who opted to disclose that the source of the rumours about the club emanated from one of the players. Edinburgh also revealed both were due automatic contract extensions after five more appearances, with both players waiving that clause to remain in contention this term.
That wasn’t news to us – fans had told me directly where they’d heard the rumour – but Edinburgh was nonetheless firm in making clear it was entirely his decision to decide the players weren’t wanted for next season.
In County’s press day on Friday Edinburgh confirmed both could play their part this season depending on their reactions to the news. Tellingly, Flynn was on the bench on Saturday, Pipe wasn’t.
Pipe is understood to be extremely upset at the decision and that should surprise no-one, his commitment to the cause is clear and I’ve generally found him honest and passionate when it comes to discussing the Exiles. It will be interesting to hear from him when he decides the time is right.
Equally, on a personal level, I’m practically distraught at Flynn leaving, as he’s someone I consider a friend and is also a columnist in the Argus.
I haven’t made any secret of the fact I had several conversations with Flynn in summer 2012 as he deliberated on a return to Newport, doing my best to help convince him that the Exiles under Edinburgh had a legitimate chance of gaining promotion.
He’s probably the only player County have signed in my time covering the club who I had a pre-existing friendship with and thanks to his honesty and experience, Flynn also always makes for a fascinating interview.
And both players are hard not to admire for their footballing ability.
Pipe has played for Wales and has been a phenomenal signing for County, an inspirational figure last term (and the previous season) and he has more than justified the Exiles taking a chance on him when he was at a difficult point in his life.
Flynn has also played a key role. He improved as last season went on and particularly impressed me in adapting his game to compensate for the loss of Max Porter to injury. He has rarely been used in his best position by County – in behind the front two – but he’s always got on with it as a good team man.
However, this is where I’m faced with that dilemma between the professional and the personal.
Because Edinburgh’s judgement as County boss is worth backing and his decision making hasn’t exactly let him down so far.
In his view, Ryan Jackson and Robbie Willmott offer more than Pipe and Flynn is only likely to slip in a pecking order containing Tom Naylor, Max Porter, Lee Minshull, Ryan Burge and Adam Chapman.
Due to their stellar careers (comparatively) before joining Newport, it’s probably safe to assume (if not entirely logical) that Flynn and Pipe are among the higher earners at Rodney Parade and that of course is a factor.
When we look at this decision it’s impossible not to factor in that both players are ‘local boys’ and for Edinburgh, that doesn’t come into the equation. His only focus is building a strong squad.
I appreciate that he’s already planning for next season and similarly that he can exhibit such ruthlessness when needed.
Edinburgh has a fantastic relationship with his players, we see it every week on the training field, but there is also no doubt whatsoever as to who the boss is.
And ultimately, much as I’m a fan of Mike Flynn and David Pipe, this all boils down to nothing more or less than the boss having his say.
Edinburgh is a big believer in incentive clauses that trigger automatic contract extensions and despite unsubstantiated claims to the contrary it is him who introduced them to the club as a means of ensuring you avoid unnecessary player turnover each summer.
By means of example, the only player last term who they wanted to keep who didn’t have such a clause was Aaron O’Connor. And as such, he very nearly left the club.
Edinburgh had to address the situation with Flynn and Pipe because of the clause and he then had to address it in public even though he’d have preferred not to.
And agree or disagree with his decision, it’s hard not to admire how he took charge of the situation last week and made clear that he’s more than happy to be judged on his decisions. You’d ask little more from a manager.