DAVID Flitcroft is not too proud to admit some of Bury’s best performances since he took over as manager have been partly down to Rochdale boss Keith Hill.
The Shakers coach says he and his former mentor, who he worked under as assistant for six years at Spotland and then at Barnsley, continue to speak on a daily basis.
And he revealed Hill has even handed out advice on how to bring down some of League Two’s top teams – helping him to earn a point against Scunthorpe United, Burton Albion and Oxford United.
But Flitcroft is not about to repay the favour when the two sides meet at the JD Stadium tomorrow night and believes he has his own master plan to take points off his friend.
“Mine and Hilly’s relationship is renowned in the game - we were a formidable partnership and we still inspire each other daily,” said Flitcroft.
“He is an incredible planner; he is detailed in his work. And no doubt (there have been occasions when) we have taken points off teams this season that Hilly’s been a part of.
“Obviously he had his motives for helping us, but his genuine motives were for helping me.”
That tight bond will be put to one side tomorrow night, however, when the pair go head to head in front of the Sky TV cameras.
A victory would send Rochdale top of League Two, but Flitcroft is eager to extend his so-far unbeaten home record.
“Rochdale are 4-3-3 and they are the best footballing side in this league, so I don’t think for one game Keith is going to change that philosophy - it’s not his style,” added the Bury boss.
“A lot of teams go to Rochdale and park the bus and try to restrict and restrain them, but nobody has managed to do that.
“I have got a way, though, that I believe we can beat Rochdale and that’s what we have been working on implementing.”
Flitcroft remains supremely confident he can put one over on his close friend, despite his side losing for the first time in seven matches at Cheltenham last Saturday, a defeat that saw them drop to 16th in the table.
And while the former Rochdale coach and player has promised the home support there will be no split loyalties, he has urged them not to let their own rivalry get out of hand.
“When it becomes business, believe me I really do focus,” he said.
“For 90 minutes we have got to try and beat Rochdale and that’s what we will be committed to doing, but then after that I will be committed to being Hilly’s pal for the rest of my life.
“And I just hope that same level of respect will be shown by each and every person in the ground.”
Bury go into the match with three major injury concerns.
Captain Craig Jones is rated 50-50 to start, despite pulling up with a tight hamstring at the weekend, while forwards Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Ashley Grimes will also have their hamstring injuries assessed today.