Craig Priest writes…
During my three and a bit seasons following Stags from the commentary box, showing emotion was a common thing - I could comfortably write a trilogy of books about that! As a supporter however, showing emotion is not something I do - I already feel naked enough stripped of my headset, so showing any emotion would only add to the already awkward feeling!
Last night something changed as I felt a pang of emotion for goalkeeper Sascha Studer.
The Swiss shot-stopper had been unfortunate to conceded five goals in a heavy defeat against an experienced Derby County side.
Studer was the last man into the dressing room and looked like he had the problems of the universe hanging on his shoulders. The setting of the dark evening sky and light pouring rain didn't help make the scene less emotional, in fact add in some deep and dreamy backing track and I'd have probably felt a tear or two form.
I watched Studer gracefully accept the best wishes of the Rams squad as he strolled across the pitch at snails pace, all he wanted it seemed was to be alone. I'd love to be completely wrong about what my brain judged the image as, yet it's perhaps this that broke my usual supporter emotional resistance.
Studer has been playing regular football since the age of 15 at senior, first team level, and longed for a break over here in Blighty. That dream became reality in the summer after a successful trial with us and, after taking over the number one jersey from the much loved Alan Marriott, quickly established himself as number one and won the respect and hearts of us supporters.
Things we're going well for Studer and then, out of the blue, was dealt a hammer blow as Cox brought in Nottingham Forest youngster Dimitar Evtimov on loan until January - the Bulgarian glovesman quickly took Studers place in the starting line-up and despite numerous questionable performances, still retains his place in goal.
I'm not in the business of personal attacks, I've been victim of enough of them to see them as a waste of energy. I'm not taking sides either, Evtimov is a good keeper but you must be judged on performance and from what I've seen, the Forest loanee shouldn't be starting games for Mansfield Town.
The rumour mill always contributes to things, many say that a condition of having the Bulgarian is that he has to play first team football. A source that works with the Bulgarian shot stopper closely at his parent club has indirectly confirmed that - if that is the case, then perhaps Paul Cox needs to re-evaluate the way he manages the club.
In Studers case, it would appear he, like us supporters, has been kept in the dark about his sudden withdrawal from the starting line-up. Whilst we as fans can chew the fat over this, the situation doesn't directly affect us, for Studer though it does and that is not good man management.
You have to remember the 23 year old is still a young man and a long way from home comforts and the love and encouragement of family and friends. He’s taken a chance to fly the nest and has been dealt an unexpected blow, when you’re doing everything you can in training, playing well and not having your questions answered, you’re bound to have a million and one things running around inside your head – you begin to feel lonely and isolated, that’s not a good place to be.
That was exactly what I saw going through his head last night, a young boy a long way from home slowly watching his dream become a unliveable nightmare.
Maybe he has had his questions answered; maybe things are a far cry from what we perceive and what story my brain is devising from what my eyes see – but either way, that’s the life of football, it’s as much ugly and frustrating as it is beautiful and thrill-filled.
Hopefully the Swiss keeper can keep his head held high and use the clear spirit he has inside to fight (not physically sascha!) for his place. He has the agility, confidence and strength to become a Mansfield Town legend, even more so than he is already. The defenders trust him and he has the support of every supporter – a vital thing for a squad with our restrictions and in our situation.
Naturally on paper it’s impossible to justify why he should be placed back into the first team after shipping five in the reserves but that doesn’t mean he should give up, one day his opportunity will come again.
Right, enough of this emotion led blog – bring on Saturday where three points are very much needed!
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