THINGS have changed dramatically for Michael Flynn this pre-season but the manager still has the same total devotion to Newport County AFC despite being linked with yet another top job.

Bristol City were the latest club tipped to move for the Exiles boss after the sacking of Lee Johnson.

At one stage a bookmaker, perhaps motivated by publicity, priced Flynn as favourite to take over at the Championship club.

The 39-year-old has impressed since taking the reins at Rodney Parade, spearheading the 2017 Great Escape, leading the club to the 2019 League Two play-off final and guiding them on lucrative cup runs that have proved to be invaluable during the coronavirus crisis.

Flynn has strong links with Bristol City after helping develop George Nurse, Antoine Semenyo, Shawn McCoulsky, Cameron Pring and Tyreeq Bakinson on loan but an Ashton Gate move was never on the cards and they eventually promoted assistant coach Dean Holden.

South Wales Argus:

“The club didn’t have one call. There was nothing and Bristol City obviously had their route that they were going down,” said Flynn, set for his fourth full season at the helm.

“You saw Chris Hughton linked, Ryan Lowe linked. You can’t control what is in the bookies or what is written.

“It sounds crazy, but I am long enough in the tooth now. If you say something you are damned, if you don’t say something you are damned.

“I’d rather just get my head down. The players, the club and 99 per cent of the fans know that I will always give everything to Newport County AFC and until I am told otherwise, that’s what I will continue to do.”

Last October Flynn signed a contract that runs until the summer of 2022 after he held talks with League One club Lincoln City.

He’s plotting towards the coming campaign, one that will be like no other because of the pandemic.

“It’s changed a lot,” said Flynn about pre-season preparations. “We have temperature checks every morning and get tested.

“We’ve got social distancing measures and the boys can’t shower here (at Spytty Park) and they can’t eat here.

“That’s the frustrating part, especially when bringing in new players because they can’t integrate into the group. That’s tough but they are on the pitch and basically having to introduce themselves by playing football.

“Certain non-football things have been taken out. It’s not ideal that we can’t eat together, but is it necessary? Yes.”

South Wales Argus: GRAFT: Michael Flynn at training (Picture: @nicnacnoopixs - Newport County AFC) GRAFT: Michael Flynn at training (Picture: @nicnacnoopixs - Newport County AFC)

The summer has been a challenging one for Flynn, summed up by the situation with Scot Bennett.

The manager wanted to offer the utility a man a contract but the Exiles had to put a freeze on new contracts in the middle of the pandemic.

Luckily, unlike Jamille Matt who then got snapped up by Forest Green Rovers, Bennett was still on the market when Flynn was able to put forward a one-year deal.

“There were some frustrating conversations but I’ve always tried to be a positive person,” said Flynn, who saw mentor Lennie Lawrence leave for Stevenage.

“I’ll tell you what I did get out of it all – I got to spend some time with my kids that I would never have had. I had them for 16 weeks and it puts a perspective on things.

“I always try to be positive and level-headed, and there is a bigger picture out there.

“When you see the death rates, people that you know being effected by the virus, businesses struggling and then you look at the work of the NHS and key workers, it gives you that sense of perspective.

“There is more to life than being angry because you can’t bring a player in straight away or you can’t go training.”

County head to Hereford on Saturday for their latest behind-closed-doors friendly after a midweek encounter with Cardiff City.

The proper stuff starts against Swansea City in the Carabao Cup a week on Saturday with a League Two opener at Scunthorpe seven days later.

County made the play-offs in 2019 and were mid-table when last season was finished early but the boss won’t publicly state any targets ahead of a hectic campaign.

He said: “I am not putting any pressure on myself, it’s a strange year! I am going to get the boys as fit as I can and as prepared as I can so that hopefully we can start well. I have said that every season and I am not going to change now.”