Flynn has form with Liverpool youth and is ready to take on higher-placed Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup fifth round
Ryan Flynn has a thing for knockout football. Twice a winner of the FA Youth Cup with Liverpool, scoring in the 2006 final win over Manchester City and converting a penalty in the shootout win over Manchester United the following year, he has saved some his best performances this season for the competition proper.
The 2013-14 chapter has incorporated the goal of the Scottish midfielder's career in Sheffield United's win at Aston Villa and the last-gasp elimination of Fulham in a fourth-round replay. The victory sealed Sunday's meeting with a Nottingham Forest team including Jack Hobbs, another of the Kop Babes of eight years ago.
"They were great occasions. In youth team football the cup definitely holds greater importance over the league – people come out in numbers to watch you for a start – but for us right now the league is more important with the position we are in," Flynn says. "The FA Cup is something we are really enjoying, there is no pressure on us and hopefully we can cause another upset."
United are the last flag-bearers from the lower reaches of English football and, if that is not a surprise given the club's rich heritage, it should be when considering their status as League One relegation zone dwellers. Between the victories at Villa Park and Craven Cottage was sandwiched a humiliating defeat at Crewe.
So, how does the 25-year-old explain such a discrepancy? "In the league it has not been as bad as it looks. Some of the results haven't been great but the performances we've put in, bar the Crewe game, have been good. We've been taking the lead and holding on to it. Things are definitely on an upward curve and I think the league position we're in owes a lot to how we started the season."
Despite their precarious position, Nigel Clough has not compromised his footballing philosophy, using the Old Big 'Ead model employed at opponents Forest, where he remains the highest post-war scorer. His most recent acquisition, Stefan Scougall, another Scot, is a modern-day Gary Crosby. Clough joked Scougall was the reason for the midweek postponement against Brentford. Apparently, in the adverse weather "they were worried he would blow away".
Their attractive style has been a strong feature of the Yorkshire club's cup exploits this far. Flynn reckons being pitted against higher-ranked opponents allows greater freedom of expression. "Sometimes they are good players themselves and they let you play a bit more. When we get the ball down, we have got good players and do create chances and we are just managing to take a few in these FA Cup games," he says. "There is definitely a difference from Premiership football to League One, which is a lot more up and at you.
"Premiership football is about ball retention and you have to be really switched on because good players can hurt you at any time. Maybe that means you are concentrating more. In League One games a lot of questions are asked but there is a lot more hard work and effort required, they are totally different games at times and anyone who watches will definitely see that."
Not that Flynn expects to be playing League One for the rest of his career. With Clough at the helm, there is an expectation that the club will be moving divisions (in a positive direction) before too long, allowing players like him a chance to fulfil the potential of their youth.
"It would have been a dream to break through but I don't think there's any shame if you don't make it at Liverpool," Flynn says. "I went through the academy and progressed to Melwood, we won the reserve league after those youth cups, but once you have done that everyone wants to play first-team football – and I was no fool. I knew I wasn't going to do that at Liverpool, so I went back on loan to Falkirk."