FA Cup First Round Proper, Saturday 7th November | Stadium of Light [Behind Closed Doors] | Richard Cooper in caretaker charge – Nigel Clough [New Manager appointed 6/11/20] watching on from the stands
GET IN! Are there any other words to sum up yesterday’s first victory of the season? Honestly what a relief and what a few days for the Stags, announcing Nigel Clough as manager on Friday – before beating League One Sunderland in the FA Cup yesterday [Saturday].
Already I’m seeing social media posts of newspaper clippings highlighting “Clough’s Winning Start” – so before we go any further, yes I’m buzzing to have Clough at the helm, but that victory yesterday, belongs to Richard Cooper and his coaching staff.
Coops has been at the clubs for years and I’m so pleased for him – he faced an almost impossible task of picking up a team that was stripped of confidence, stripped of freedom. The results were evident last weekend against Walsall, on Tuesday against Bolton and again yesterday against Sunderland – Cooper and his team made the seemingly impossible, possible.
He now hands a team over to Nigel Clough and Gary Crosby [new assistant manager] that are buzzing, playing with freedom and have a real energy about them – yes there’s a long way to go, one victory doesn’t change everything, but we are in a far better shape than we could have hoped for and for that, he deserves a lot of credit.
I’d love to see him stay around the first team picture, but I’m fairly sure he’ll head back to his Academy role alongside his coaches and continue the sterling job he’s been doing for years – this club has safe hands, experience and passion running through its very core.
It made perfect sense for Cooper to take the side having prepared for the game since Tuesday whilst negotiations with Clough continued, the boys were rocked on Tuesday with Bolton’s late equaliser but showed no sign of dwelling on a negative, instead playing positive football and working hard as a unit to get that first win.
Lapslie’s goal was a highlight of the way Cooper’s had us playing and was wonderfully taken – his post match comments said it all, there’s life back in the dressing room and on Monday morning when clough and his team take the first training session, they’ve inherited a group willing to work, rather than a dead environment in need of shaking into life.
Clough was present at the game and after the match made his way to the touchline to celebrate with the players, I’ve got no worries that the love and confidence Cooper has installed will disappear, I can’t wait for the season to unfold – starting with a rubber-stamp game Tuesday against Scunthorpe who’ve not had had the greatest season so far and who, after weeks of isolation due to a covid-filled dressing room, take on non-league Solihull at lunchtime.
It’s a game to tinker, with no risk – let’s hope the players kick start the new era with victory.
To finish, a massive well done to Cooper and the team – and, a massive Thank you, you’ve done something that we all felt impossible – won us a game of football! Arise, Sir Richard Cooper.
Click HERE to read the clubs official match report.
STAGS: Marek Stech | Kellan Gordon, Farrend Rawson, James Perch ©, Mal Benning | Harry Charsley, George Lapslie, George Maris, Stephen McLaughlin | Nicky Maynard (Corey O’Keeffe 81), Jordan Bowery
Unused Subs: Aidan Stone, Rollin, Menayese, Tyrese Sinclair, Andy Cook, Aaron O’Driscoll, Jamie Reid
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