They say that football is a results based business and throughout the season, David Flitcroft didn’t shy away from the fact his players were on incentive based contracts – so it’s stands to reason that he’d be on a similar deal, but does a fourth placed finish and play-off semi-final defeat on penalties warrant Flitcroft’s departure?
The news has certainly rocked and divided the Stags faithful, who for the first time in nearly a decade at the clubs helm, are questioning the actions of Stags’ owner and chairman John Radford.
Personally I’m shocked. If I were in John Radford’s position would I have sacked Flitcroft? Probably not, as judged solely on last season I think fourth is a respectable finish having played the best brand of football for years, not to mention transferring players into sellable assets and rebuilding broken bridges between the first team and the academy.
However, Radford I predict will be judging Flitcroft of the entirety of his tenure which ultimately is two failed attempts at promotion, the first having just twelve games at the end of the 2017/18 campaign after Steve Evans quit, the second this season with his own team losing out on automatic promotion on the final day at MK Dons, losing their last three games of the campaign – and looking at it in that light, you have to say the decision, is just about justified especially if, going back to the incentives, promotion is your job remit.
Do I think the Stags board should have stuck with Flitcroft? Yes. Personally I’d have factored in things such as injuries and the fact the play-offs are a lottery and said, we’ll go again next season under review – expecting to be in the top five at Christmas with a certain points target. The fact we now start a fresh has its pros and cons for sure, but today’s news just shows how ruthless football is.
I had planned out a whole blog about an inquest into the seasons failures, which would have included a paragraph or two about stability from top to bottom, using the likes of Lincoln, Luton and Accrington as firm examples.
What comes of perhaps more of a shock in todays news is the immediate appointment of John Dempster as the clubs new manager. Dempster is a club icon for me who on the pitch was pivotal to promotion back into the football league and since hanging up his boots, has done an incredible job in restructuring the academy, however whilst I’m delighted to see him given a shot at first team management – I’m apprehensive and somewhat disappointed it comes where the pressure is more ‘into the inferno’ than ‘into the fire’. I'm not doubting the appointment, from the outside, it just appears rushed - though I'm sure the board and the Radfords have considered the options.
Going back for a moment to Steve Evans’ departure, it was then that Dempster should have been handed the reins as he’d have gone in on the back of a phenomenal time with the academy and had pretty much nothing to lose. Had we finished in the play-offs then great, job done, if not, it’s not a problem we can appoint a new manager to implement new ideas and tactics with his own squad – whilst Dempster returned to the comfort of the Academy.
Whilst Flitcroft did reshape and restructure, he already had a noose hanging loosely around his neck having drank from the poisoned chalice which awaited whoever followed Evans, which I believe now, has ultimately cost him his job.
Dempster will get my complete and utter backing as he should that all of Stags supporters, however I’m under no illusions that he faces a tremendous challenge to decide which of the current crop he wants to keep and now has to rebuild and challenge for automatic promotion – because unless the board have done a complete U-turn in expectation – it would be double standards to achieve anything less without the exact same consequences.
I would expect Dempster to also be tasked with giving more game time to the clubs younger crop of players having coached and managed them so well through the academy process, which could go one of two ways really. I just hope it doesn’t end with it blowing up in our faces.
As many have said Football is so ruthless and it’s 100% a results based business – if me or you weren’t reaching our targets in our jobs after a period of time, we’d be down the job centre too. I would have liked to see Flitcroft given more time to continue to build, but the decision has been made.
To Flitcroft and his staff who follow him out of the door, thank-you for your efforts and putting together a season which, whilst it ended poorly, as a whole was exciting to watch unfold and follow.
To John Dempster, the new manager of Mansfield Town – you know what promotion means to the supporters, go and deliver it and make a name for yourself in the world of senior management, a former manager of yours once said that success is built on strong foundations, you’ve certainly laid some good ones so far.
Football – it never fails to deliver does it!
Mansfield Town supporters will get a real insight into the journey back into the football league, as promotion winning manager Paul Cox joins the line-up for ‘Legends Live’ – a charity night hosted by supporter’s podcast Mansfield Matters.
Cox is statistically the second best manager in the clubs history and delivered promotion as champions of the Conference in 2013, in just his second season as Stags manager, leading Mansfield back into the Football League after a five year absence.
He joined the club in the summer of 2011 and started a massive revival of the playing and coaching staff, leading Mansfield too the play-offs in his first season at the helm.
Paul, who returned to the club last season as manager of non-league Guiesley, will recall his memories of his time in the Stags dug-out on Friday 27th July, as supporters podcast Mansfield Matters present ‘Legends LIVE’ – a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Getting underway at 8pm, the evening also brings back the captain of the promotion winning side Adam Murray who succeeded Cox as Mansfield manager in 2015, and mid-noughties goal-scoring ace Richie Barker, who is now the assistant boss of Rotherham United who the Stags face the following day.
The evening will also delve further into the clubs history with more familiar heroic names to be announced soon.
Hosted by Stags fan and journalist Craig Priest, the evening will also include quizzes and on stage entertainment as ‘Mansfield Matters’ aim to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society and raise more awareness of Dementia.
Speaking on the announcement of Paul Cox, Craig said “I’m buzzing that Paul has agreed to join us, I worked closely with him when he was the manager and I know he’ll have some brilliant stories to share with supporters for a fantastic cause.
“Paul is without a doubt one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in football, he always went about his business seriously but always had time to crack a joke and make you feel involved. When we (The Mansfield Matters team) were planning this event, Pauls name was top of our list, I’m sure he’ll get a heroes welcome, as he did when he returned for the FA Cup clash last season.
“With Adam (Murray) and Richie (Barker) on board too, it will give fans a range of views from over the last 15 years or so, and with the other names we hope to confirm soon, that range will be stretched even further back.
“The fact the club have so generously allowed us to host the event at the One Call Stadium at the Sandy Pate Sports Bar means so much, it really feels like we’re bringing home some iconic faces for a really important cause. I’m really excited and thank all at the club for their generosity”
Mansfield Matters ‘Legends LIVE’ takes place at the One Call Stadium in the Sandy Pate Sports Bar on Friday 27th July at 8pm, it’s FREE entry with donations encouraged – the evening will include on stage entertainment, prize raffles and a sports quiz.
Title winning captain Adam Murray is the latest name to join the panel for supporters led Q&A Night ‘Legends Live’ – taking place at the Sandy Pate Sports Bar on Friday 27th July 2018 at 8pm.
Murray first joined the Stags initially on loan from Derby County in 2002 as a youngster and returned twice as a player in separate spells, before making the transition into management following the departure of Paul Cox, to whom Murray was player-assistant as well as club captain.
The popular midfielder never hid his passion and love for the club, on and off the pitch, and often played through the pain barrier during his third spell with the Stags – during which he led the club out at Wembley Stadium in 2011 in the FA Trophy Final, reached the conference play-off semi-finals and then lifted the conference title – his face streaming with tears of raw joy.
Murray joins former striker Richie Barker on the panel of legends, answering questions and recalling memories all in the name of charity – as the evening, hosted by Mansfield Matters, will act as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society.
The evening will also include quizzes, stage entertainment and a prize raffle with funds raised going to the charity, it will be hosted by Mansfield Matters’ Craig Priest “I’m delighted that Adam has agreed to participate in the event, I have real respect for him as a person and I’m really looking forward to hearing his stories – as publically this will be the first time Adam will have spoken too and mixed with supporters since his spell as manager”
“I know Adam has returned to the One Call Stadium in a media capacity towards the back end of last season so it will be interesting to hear his take on how the Stags progress forward and how he found the murky world of management”
“I know a lot of supporter’s think very highly of ‘Muz’ and having him alongside Richie, will make for a really exciting and entertaining night for a truly wonderful cause”
The supporters led charity night is FREE for people to enter with donations encouraged on the door. It will take place on Friday 27th July 2018 in the Sandy Pate Sports Bar at the One Call Stadium and along with Richie and Adam, will see those who’ve participated in Episodes of the ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ Series also invited.
More names will be announced in due course.
Former Mansfield Town captain Richard ‘Richie’ Barker is to return to the One Call Stadium as part of a panel of club legends, in a special live event for fans, an evening which will act as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society and raise awareness of Dementia.
Barker is now the assistant manager at Championship side Rotherham United and will be in the opposing dug-out on July 28th as the Stags welcome the Millers on the pitch, however supporters will get the opportunity to hear Barker’s Memories of his time at the club the previous evening (July 27th) as Mansfield Matters present ‘Legends Live’
Taking place in the Sand Pate Sports Bar, the evening will see a number of club legends from a variety of seasons return, answering questions and sharing their memories and stories from their Stags career.
The event is the conclusion of our series ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ where each week a former player or manager of the Stags has joined host Craig Priest and Panellists Simon Mercer, Nathan Edge and Cam Felton to share their memories – with players such as Ian Bowling, Bobby Hassell and Micky Boulding taking part so far.
The evening will be hosted by journalist and Stags fan Craig Priest, who said “We’ve really enjoyed meeting up one on one with former players and sharing the videos online, but we wanted to do something special for supporters in a live environment and are really excited to welcome some real club legends back home”
“Nathan [Edge] has done a lot of work for charity and in doing so has become really good friends with Kevin Bird who is living with Dementia, it’s really sad to see the impact it’s had on his life – and like many former footballers, the cause has most likely been playing the beautiful game and making memories for generations of Stags fans – so we really wanted to give something back that wasn’t as painful as walking from ground to ground as we did back in November!”
“I’m delighted that Richie has agreed to join us, it fits perfectly with the schedules of the clubs in pre-season and I’m sure it’s going to be a great night for supporters of all ages with some of the other guests we’ve got lined up! I’d like to express my thanks to all at Mansfield Town FC for allowing us to use the Sandy Pate Sports Bar”
Richie joined the Stags in 2004 having established himself at Macclesfield and Barnsley and went onto become a popular figure amongst the Mansfield faithful, captaining the side and contributing with 40 goals in 95 league appearances before being controversially sold to Hartlepool United.
Since hanging up his boots, Barker has moved into management and coaching, achieving promotion with Bury after making the transition from youth team boss, before going onto manage Crawley and Portsmouth, stepping back to be assistant at MK Dons, Charlton and now Rotherham with former Stags teammate, loanee Paul Warne.
Barker, who has often been tipped by bookmakers to manage the Stags when the job has become vacant, will share his side of the stories – the good and the bad, in a night packed with memories.
The popular front man won’t be alone, as Mansfield Matters present a panel of legends over the course of the evening with more names to be announced soon.
Getting underway at 8pm on Friday 27th July, the evening will be packed full of entertainment including a quiz, prize raffle and more.
It’s FREE for supporters of all ages; however donations on the night will be very actively encouraged with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Mansfield Matters ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ has already began raising money for the charity, and so far the series has included interviews with Ian Bowling, Micky Boulding and Bobby Hassell – with Episodes still to come from Jon D’Layrea and Stuart Watkiss
The series is available in audio form here https://soundcloud.com/craig-priest-276599797/sets/mansfield-matters-a-trip-down and supporters can watch the episodes in full for FREE
Ian Bowling https://youtu.be/UMOw3NQ9DdY
Bobby Hassell https://youtu.be/P8wIZhXMQKU
Micky Boulding https://youtu.be/BUaty38VTnk
This time last week, the Mansfield Town 2016-17 rollercoaster had reached its final bend in the track – there was a slight chance there may be a final twist, but most knew and accepted the ride was about to come to a slow end, and it did.
With little time to look back and reflect, Steve Evans had met with Chairman John Radford and agreed a plan for 2017-18 and wasted no time in reshuffling the desk, releasing eleven players from the club and, at the time of writing, signing two new faces.
Usually when the retained list comes out, there’s a bit of negativity – something I expected on mass when leading goal scorer and club legend Matt Green’s name was on the list, yet there appeared to be very little.
That’s something which highlights to me that everyone, from the boardroom right across to the terraces knows it’s time to move on. Matt Green will forever be a legend that’s without question – but as we look towards promotion into league one, sometimes it’s best to let go of the old guard and thus stop the “He’d have buried that in the conference” references and attitude, which was so prominent against Portsmouth when Green missed that golden chance.
The remaining ten to be released were Yoann Arquin, James Baxendale, Ashley Hemmings, Kevan Hurst, Pat Hoban, Brian Jensen, Jamie McGuire [Offer U21 Coaching Role], Scott Shearer, Corbin Shires and skipper Lee Collins, who other than McGuire was perhaps the only name on the list that was questioned.
Naturally I can’t really pass judgement on the majority of that list having not seen them play much this season [FYI I’m not jumping back on the band-wagon, I’ve been locked in a production studio for a season!] but I did rate Collins and thought he gave his plenty of options – but Evans likes a smaller squad and already judging by the players retained and the signings he’s made so far – it’d be tough to see where ‘skipper’ Collins would fit.
What you said
As always, we asked you to give your views via twitter and Facebook – he’s a selection of your responses
So far Evans has made two quality additions, goalkeeper Conrad Logan signing from Rochdale, who he helped to a steady 9th placed finish – and solid defender Zander Diamond who has been there and done it with both Burton Albion and Northampton Town, turning down a new deal with the latter after winning player-of-the-season too join the Stags.
Two top class players who are both experienced in winning trophies – in previous years, the early signings have been mouth-watering ones which have set the bar of expectation high, which hasn’t then been met – but with Evans and the clear ambition to win promotion, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.
Things are shaping up well and on paper, with last season not even seven-days dead – the next can’t come around quick enough.
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