The Beast from the East left a freezing chill across the country last week, but as snow fell and temperatures dropped – the Mansfield public were left short of breath in bewilderment as Steve Evans resigned with full intention of taking up the vacant managerial post at League One Peterborough United.
It was far from a posh and pleasant move from Evans who rode into Mansfield 15 months previously in a blaze of publicity, promising to turn Mansfield Town into champions, but ultimately allowed his ego to get in the way of real progress as week upon week he singled out a minority of supporters and focused on playing verbal tennis rather than the football.
Results were improving and to be fair, after a stuttered start, Evans had began to find some rhythm – yet still there was always a sense of distance between the nine-time promotion winner and the club faithful, this is something which, now he’s jumped ship, I’ll admit worried me.
Very rarely would Evans be seen applauding the fans after a game home or away, unless of course it was a win in a big game – I also know too from credible sources that the now Peterborough manager was very reluctant to agree to take part in the annual supporters forum, which he cancelled.
Regardless of all of that, Evans left the club in the critical time it needed a leader, seriously jeopardising project promotion – the club’s supporters are lucky that deep down, the Radford’s had a plan for a wee cheeky sneaky move from the Scotsman – and what a move, a masterstroke in poaching David Flitcroft from Swindon.
Flitcroft has achieved promotion from this division before and upon meeting his at last Thursday’s press conference, I got the impression that the missing community feel between management/ players and the supporters had been found.
I was proved right on Sunday when Flitcroft, staff and players brought along their shovels and joined supporters in clearing the snow covered pitch ahead of tomorrow night’s showdown with checkatrade trophy finalists and play-off rivals Lincoln City.
Straight away Flitcroft getting stuck in creates a bond, a lust to support which is pivotal at this stage as there are only twelve league games to go before the full time whistle blows on the 2017-18 campaign – something which in all the drama of the last week, you’d be forgiven for overlooking.
When a manager quits in such a manner on with the sands of time running thin on the season, panic sets in, however a swift appointment has given Flitcroft nearly a week to train with the players and get his feet under the table – couple that with the fact we’re at home tomorrow night for his first game rather than be away (Stevenage having been postponed at the weekend) and add on the togetherness bond, it may just be enough to give us that extra energy and push going into the final twelve games.
That Scottish fella is a thing of the past, and no matter how many articles try and stir the pot we have to 10000000% back Flitcroft’s appointment and HIS team – from now on, it’s HIS team selection, HIS training methods, HIS style of play and HIS guidance through the wild wilderness which is league two.
The new Stags boss inherits Evans’ staff but straight away, even before the ink was dry on his contract, they were working for Flitcroft – clearing a training area for the work to start straight away, once again highlighting that we are in this for Mansfield Town Football Club and not for egos and personal records.
I’m delighted that Lee Taylor has stayed – his work often goes unnoticed and unrecognised, yet it’s no coincidence that the likes of Danny Rose, Alex MacDonald and CJ Hamilton have all be re-born since his arrival – Adam Murray used to talk about (and get wrongly mocked) the missing percentages, those little 1 or 2% extras which win games – and that’s exactly what Taylor brings to the party.
Swindon’s fan base are naturally disappointed with Flitcroft’s switch which ironically is pretty similar to what that Scottish fella did to us – the difference is we’ve done it professionally in the best interest of both clubs – aka we’ve got a manager who I sense has been a target of the Radford’s for a long time, and Swindon have a very decent compensation package, allowing them to address some issues their fans are choosing to ignore.
Lincoln City may well be dreaming to Wembley success, but they’ll also be focussed on progression in Sky Bet League two – four points outside the play-offs with a game in hand on Swindon – they will not roll over and give Flitcroft the traditional easy early ride, there’s no time for honeymoons here, it’s all hands to the pump.
Naturally changes will be made, certain players will be better suited to the way in which the new manager wants to play and certain players may have taken the opportunity to come out of their shell and give that extra 10% which could prove the difference.
This time a week a go there was a sense of unease with the rumour mill in full swing but what followed, few actually believed would happen until the end of the season – and yet it did and once more Mansfield Town Football Club have come through the other side of the water, together as one.
What was it John Radford said? No Individual is bigger than Mansfield Town Football Club – well now, I don’t think we have anyone that fits that bill, just a manager, players and supporters all wanting one single thing, promotion.
Get yourself to the One Call Stadium tomorrow – make as much noise as possible, the sands of time on this season may well be running thin – but they are still flowing, and three points would be the perfect way to start second beginnings.
Mark Plumb Writes...
Mansfield Town continued their league 2 campaign with a scrappy 0-0 draw at the hands of Wycombe Wanderes on a miserable wet night at Field Mill. The team was unchanged that beat Grimsby convincingly heading into the game, which for me was spot on.
The first half started with the Stags creating chances earlier on from Lee Angol whose first time shot was well saved by Scott Brown who did well to keep the effort out. In the first 15 minutes we played some good football in the early exchanges showing signs that we would be the most likely to score. Wycombe stood up well to the challenge making life hard for our front men to have much of an impact on the game, out muscling and being organised when called upon under pressure.
Dan Scarr must have thought he put his side in front when his header looked certain to end up in the back of the net only for Logan to pull out an impressive save from close range. That was only one of his saves to keep out the Chairboys. Wycombe kept on pressing us high up the pitch, with Mansfield struggling to get a foot hold in the game in my opinion, especially in the midfield area.
Once again Scarr found himself on the end of another header towards the stags goal, again being kept out with Logan heading away from goal to somehow keep it out. Even though the conditions did play a part throughout the match it was frustrating us not being able to play our usual game, as we have been doing a lot so far this season.
This time it was Marcus Bean who fancied his chance with a shot for outside the box, which Logan could only parry out to Makii Smith whose shot was well kept out from point blank range from the former Rochdale man. So far this season he has been criticised for his performances thus far, including myself in previous blogs but if it wasn't for his saves we could have easily have gone on to lose the game by 4-0 with the chances they created. Logan if your reading this hats off to you.
The half time whistle blew with the scores at 0-0 with the rain not letting up any time soon. Overall assessment for me in the first half was disappointing after the first 15 minutes of the game with Mansfield not doing enough on the ball and making the most out of the chances we had in the early periods of the match. The second half began with Atkinson and Anderson replacing Macdonald and Mellis respectively. Much of the second half was very scrappy with both teams getting into some crunching tackles and the ball being played to much in the air for me.
We had a good chance to break the deadlock when Hemmings crossed into the box was screaming for the ball to be put away, with Rhys Bennett being inches away from connecting with the ball. Alfie Potter was introduced coming on for Butcher, who put an average performance at best not having made much of an impact since his promising debut against Carlisle.
In the last 10 minutes Wycombe were mounting on the pressure, taking advantage of our sloppy play by giving the ball away inviting them to attack us. The rest of the half was nothing to shout about with the only other chance coming from the Stags was Hemmings who shot was miss timed completely giving Wycombe the chance to clear their lines. Full time whistle blew giving Mansfield 4 points in the space of 3 days.
The positives from the game was we kept a clean sheet, looking solid at the back and their were no injuries. On another day we could have easily have lost the game by at least 4 goals if not for Logan pulling the saves out of the bag. Their were standout performances from Logan, Hunt, Mirfin and Pearce to name a few that have done enough for me to keep their place in the team against Lincoln come Saturday. The negatives was not taking advantage of the chances we had and being dispossessed far to easily for me, not being able to get a foot hold in the match. On to Lincoln Saturday which will be a good test for the team. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!!!!
Mark Plumb Writes...
Mansfield Town got back to winning ways with goals from Lee Angol and Krystian Pearce to hit the Mariners for four goals. Their were three changes made to the team with Macdonald, Hunt and Butcher coming into the side replacing Anderson, Benning and Atkinson respectively.
The first half started quick with Lee Angol testing the keeper early on, doing well to force their keeper into a save to deny the Stags an early opener. For the majority of the half we dominated possession and looked a threat every time going forward, causing Grimsby defence problems.
The only thing that raised a slight concern was when our midfield getting out paced on a few occasions, thankfully for the Stags not testing Logan between the sticks. Saying that I felt out defence looked more organised and coped well with everything that was being thrown at them throughout the game.
As the game progressed we looked the more likely to score and we got our just rewards when the Stags was rewarded a penalty when Mirfin got clipped in the box giving Steve Evans men a huge chance from 12 yards. Our fourth penalty this season, up stepped Lee Angol who made no mistake in converting from the spot, ending our penalty hodoo 1-0 Stags. The half time whistle blew 1-0 Stags.
Overall I felt as though we looked solid in defence and dominated well, restricting them from having an impact on proceedings. The second half began with the Mariners on the attack looking for the elusive equaliser to try and get back in the game.
Mansfield played some good football with Angol linking up well with Hemmings and Mellis playing some good balls, showing his class in the second half as the game went on. We once again looked all the more likely to score and we doubled our lead through captain Pearce who reacted quickest to make it 2-0 Stags.
Then 10 minutes later Pearce grabbed his second and Mansfields third capitalising on the keepers parried save, 3-0 Stags. Mansfield were well on top and looked more and more likely to go and get more goals to kill the game off. In the 80th minute the Stags got awarded another penalty when Angol got tripped in the box, after good work cutting inside. Having coverted the first spot kick he came up to blast the ball past the keeper to make the scoring 4-0, killing the game off.
Their were changes made to both sides with all subs being made, without making much of an impact on proceedings. Grimsby were awarded a penalty when Bennett barged over Jaiyesimi. Scott Vernom struck low denying the Stags keeping a clean sheet making the scored to make it 4-1 and thats how it finished. Overall I think that we played some good football but most importantly kill a game off, showing our ruthlessness in front of goal. Their were a number of good performances from Mirfin. Pearce,Hunt and Angol showing his quality in front of goal.
The negatives was we could have scored more but disappointing not to keep a clean sheet but we are showing signs of becoming a top team. Football is a confidence game so lets hope we can get a good run going through this tough run of fixtures starting against Wycombe Tuesday night.
Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS!!!
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town continued their league 2 campaign against Carlisle finishing one a piece. Their was no changes made to the starting line up, which for me was surprising Logan kept his place in goal with some costly errors in previous games.
The first half was end to end with the Stags playing some good football, coping well with the long ball/ throw ins into the box testing our defence that looked solid throughout.
Against the run of play Carlisle went ahead, when the Stags corner got cleared straight to the away side, who played the ball up field to Hope, left Benning for dead to run up and slot past Logan to make it 1-0 Carlisle.
Their is no doubting how good our defence are but just looked all over the place, as the Cumbrians broke clear leaving Logan with no chance. As the half wore on the home side was pilling on the pressure with their direct approach with long balls into the box, making life difficult for Steve Evans men pressing for the second goal.
The frustration of it was seeing Logan being reluctant to come off his line to claim the ball, making life easier for the defence, leaving them to head clear. Keith Curles side came close, when Hope again was their to see his headed effort crash against the crossbar with the keeper rooted to his spot.
Credit has to go to Carlisle keeper who pulled out some tremendous saves for his team. Mansfield came close to the equaliser when from the resulting corner, Mellis did well to control the ball into his path, away from the defender to see his shot saved, that looked a certainty to beat the keeper.
Hemmings also saw his shot saved from a free kick, that forced the keeper into a fingertip save in a matter of minutes. The half time whistle blew and I think that we was unlucky not to be ahead, with the chances created. On the other side of that could have been 2 goals down with the home side creating chances.
We was playing good football at times, showing signs that the players are getting used to each other, which can only get better.
Second half began with the Stags coming out of the blocks early on making their intentions known straight away with Lee Angol leading the attack to put the pressure on with his pace and was for me one of stand out performances in the match. It also saw us play to our strengths, that on our day not many teams can handle.
Changes were made for Mansfield with Alfie Potter, Danny Rose and new signing Calum Butcher being introduced into proceedings. Carlisle had chances of their own clipping the bar again from questionable marking and communication.
From the outset the defence don't feel comfortable with Logan in goal, with him being reluctant to Marshall them commanding his box and catching the ball instead of punching it out. On another day it would have proven costly, had Lady Luck not been our side at times in the match.
The Stags were rewarded a penalty when Anderson got brought down in the box, giving us massive chance of getting back into the game. Before the kick was taken Angol picked up the ball wanting to take it, with much confusion over whose responsibility it was. Kane Hemmings was the man to step up, only to see his effort saved by the Carlisle keeper.
That is 3 penalties in a row we have missed from different takers, it makes me question if they even practice them in training. For me you have to look at Evans for who he picks to take the penalties, just poor.
The Stags got their just rewards with good work from Anderson who whipped in a ball into the area for the keeper to punch away to Butcher on the edge of the box to dip his effort over the keeper to score on his debut, making the scoring 1-1, game on. Butcher went close again with his shot just above the bar, looking a threat going forward.
Carlisle came close through Jason Kennedy seeing his shot cannon against the post, much to the relief of the 280 travelling Stag fans. Full time 1-1. Upon reflection a point away from home isn't a bad thing, as it seemed a fair result. Although saying that I thought we could have easily won the game, could have gone on to lose it to, if not for good defending/ post.
The positives from the game was we came back from going a goal down and their were impressive performances from Mirfin, Angol, Anderson, Bennett and debutant Butcher grabbing we hope first of many goals for us. Coped well when under pressure and unlucky not come away with 3 points. Negatives was again Logan who in all honesty is a lucky boy to keep his place in the team for his recent performances. Looks like a liability between the sticks, just no confidence when he's on the pitch.
Also Benning, who past couple of games has got caught out few times. Biggest thing for me out of all of that has to be the penalties, to miss 3 in a row simply isn't good enough, if they players are reading this then what I would say to you is just keep on working on them, as we know their good players but need to get that addressed asap. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town suffered a disappointing defeat against league 2 newsboys in the checkatrade trophy group match at one call stadium. As expected 10 changes were made to the line up giving the fringe players a chance to prove their worth and in other cases fighting for their contracts.
The first half I thought we played well in spells, created chances and looked comfortable on the ball. Stags took the lead courtesy of Alfie Potter, who was one and one with the keeper to convert his effort past the Imps keeper to make the scoring 1-0 Mansfield.
We should have doubled the league when Sterling James found himself in a good position but saw his shot wide of the post. As the half wore on we looked dangerous on the counter and for most of the half looked solid defensively, most notably George Taft and Johnny Hunt, making his stags debut. Then came the equaliser when Lincoln hit us on the counter by whipping in an inviting ball into the area for Whitehouse to head home to make the scores level 1-1.
It was a cruel blow for how well we played but we switched off defensively and they took advantage of poor marking. At half time their wasn't much of a concern at 1-1 we showed signs of the quality that we know we have within the team, so was expecting more of the same if not better in the second half. Second half began with the Imps wasting no time in going all out attack, causing the Stags defence and forcing Oljenik into some good saves to keep the scoring one a piece.
They made it difficult for us by playing direct and out muscling us in most areas of the pitch, most notably when the ball was being pumped up to Spencer & Sterling James who found it difficult to work along side each other. At one point in the match I thought we should have had a penalty when Spencer got into the box and did well under pressure to turn and have his shirt virtually pulled to the floor, any claims were waved away by some dubious decisions by the referee.
Paul Digby came close to opening his account for Mansfield from the resulting free kick his looped header clipped the top of the bar. On the 79th minute mark they went ahead courtesy of former Stag Ollie Palmer when he found space evading the defenders to make it 2-1 Lincoln in front of 800 Imps who travelled.
A disappointing goal to concede but they kept on pressing and got their rewards but again go back to the awareness of players marking their men, just hope they learn from these mistakes. Both teams made changes with Steve Evans bringing on Hamilton, Atkinson and Rose to try and have an impact on proceedings for the Stags.
Then in the 95th minute another former Stag in Matt Green raced forward from a Mansfield corner to score from a resulting Stags corner to convert into an empty net, having came on as a sub. For me I think the manner in which we lost the game made it all the more painful to take. We all knew this competition was never going to be a priority and that it was a match for players who needed more minutes and a chance to prove their worth.
On paper you look at the players we had out with the likes of Macdonald, Potter, Pearce, White and others to add to that list and still came away empty handed. I am sure Evans will be reviewing the performances of some of the players and knowing whether or not they feature in his plans going forward but just can't help but feel frustrated with the strength in depth we got in the team, that we should be doing better.
On the flip side of that the longer they play together the more they will gel but felt that some of the players let the fans down by not putting enough effort in. It is still early days for us to panic but as said in previous blogs/ podcasts we need to stop making silly mistakes that costs us in games, whether that be league or cup as teams punish you for it.
The positives from it was no injuries and minutes of the pitch. Other than that struggling to find anything to be positive about from the match. Onwards and upwards UP THE STAGS !!!
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town threw away a two goal lead to draw with Luton 2-2 at Field Mill in frustrating circumstances. Prior to the game their was much excitement building for the game, even more so with Kane Hemmings making his debut, hoping to add more fire power up front.
Even though it is still early in the season I just couldn't help but get frustrated by us taking the foot of the gas and inviting pressure on ourselves when Luton have players such as Hylton, Collins and Berry to name a few that will punish you if given the opportunity going forward.
The first half saw the Stags dominate possession and create chances that given the quality of players we have should have been put away, albeit some good last ditch defending by the Hatters.
The pressure paid off when Rhys Bennett found himself unmarked at the free kick to put Mansfield ahead, his first league appearance of the season and first goal for the former Rochdale man.
The Stags did well to restrict Hylton and Collins from causing us any problems, showing that we could handle the pressure. The second half started with Luton on the attack but not really testing Logan out, who kept his place in goal. As the half went on Mansfield kept on pressing for the second goal and it came with good work from Byrom who played in a good ball that was converted by Lee Angol to make it 2 in 2 goals for him.
At this stage we was comfortable and looked in control for a little while but just seemed to me that the players didn't do enough to test the keeper after the early pressure and goals we scored to really kill the game off.
Even with the introduction of Rose, Spencer and Digby it wasn't enough for the Stags to hold out with the Luton pressure proving to be to much for an experienced Mansfield Defence. Luton hit back first with Collins that should have been dealt with by the defence to convert from 3 yards out to make the score 2-1.
Minutes later Hylton converted from a mixup between defenders and goalkeeper that gave him space to equalise, past a disappointing Logan to level the score 2-2. Mansfield was awarded a penalty in extra time, up stepped Jimmy Spencer who's penalty was saved by the legs of Stech earning his side a good point away from home.
I don't like calling out individuals but for me Conrad Logan has cost us in games against Crewe, Accrington and now Luton with him not being commanding or coming out for balls into the box.
At times his defence has let him down with some poor marking at times, admittedly so but that's when he needs to organise his defence and not staying on his line making life tougher for them.
I know we are only in the fourth game of the season but it is another game this season that we haven't killed a game off and haven't seen a game out by striving for more goals making the pressure count that ultimately cost us from taking all three points.
If we are to challenge for promotion the players need to be proving why they should be on board by playing for the shirt and learning from daft individual errors. There is no doubting the quality of players we have but for me the players get to complacent and aren't ruthless enough.
Still a lot of games to be played but the only positives for me so far are that we're creating chances, playing well and look good going forward. Disappointing to say the least but one piece of coal for the Steve Evans train. Onwards and Upwards Up The Stags !!
Mansfield Town exited the league cup on a wet Tuesday night courtesy of a Callum Camps wonder goal in the first half.
Their was 6 changes from the side that drew against Crewe Alexandra with the likes of Oljenik, Bennett, Pearce, Digby and Sterling James. Their were plenty of chances for the Stags to progress through to the next round of the cup but it wasn't enough for Steve Evans men.
The first half saw Anderson (captain for the match) with a fine shot just outside the box, that had the keeper beaten all ends up but his shot could only find the woodwork. Dale then took the lead when from a resulting corner the ball got cleared out to Callum Camps whose shot ended up in the top corner, leaving Oljenik no chance. Shortly afterwards the Stags nearly equalised, when Spencer intercepted a pass from Dales defence towards goal, which saw his shot just wide of the keepers goal.
Mansfield kept on pushing for that elusive equaliser but they had to withstand pressure from the league one side, who tested the former Exeter City man, hoping to impress the gaffer. As the half progressed the Stags grew into the game by playing good attacking football but couldn't find a way past the Dale keeper. The second half started quickly with good work from Atkinson down the wing, who cut back to see his shot hit the side netting. Rochdale also came close when a cross got whipped in and hitting the bar, much to the delight of Stag fans. Sterling James also looked a dangerous threat going forward, causing Dales defenders problems by cutting inside and out pacing the on rushing defenders. Benning also had a chance from outside the box, with the cries of "shoot" from Stag fans (including myself) only to see his effort go high above the net.
The Stags were huffing and puffing and was awarded a penalty when Rose was tripped inside the box, up he stepped to take the penalty, hoping it would be the equaliser to get the Stags back into the game only to see his shot well saved by the Dale keeper to keep the scoring 1-0. Evans also introduced CJ Hamilton and Alfie Potter respectively to try and have an impact on the game.
Sterling James also had half a chance to score when his half volley shot when wide across goal, much to frustration of the Stag fans. In the dying seconds of the game Evans sended Oljenik forward with a last roll of the dice by ordering him up for the corner, only for it to be cleared away and end of preceding. It was a frustrating night, knowing we could have easily have won the game with the amount of chances we created in the match but the positive thing, for me to have come for tonight's defeat was Sterling James performance, as I mentioned above he looked a threat every time he went forward, skillful and hungry for improving.
On another night we would have easily have won but comfortably 3-1 but football can be a cruel game to us all. Onwards and Upwards UP THE STAGS !!!!
As the new season approaches at rapid speed, excitement is building over whether all of the hype from the bookmakers can see the Stags in, or if the talk will just be the words of torn up hopes and dreams.
I will NEVER slate Adam Murray, the guy is a hero of mine as a player and I believe will go onto have a good managerial career, but starting out here, wasn’t quite ready for the challenge of delivering Promotion – in fact I think there’s only person the Radford family would trust enough to give the financial backing required to deliver promotion.
That man was found in Waitrose (or on his way to Waitrose depending on which version of the story he tells!) in the form of Steve Evans, and now in his first full season as Stags boss – I think the fiery scot, faces the toughest challenge of his career.
Having delivered Promotion and good times to Stamford, Boston [twice], Crawley and Rotherham – Evans rightly earned the chance to work higher up the league pyramid and did so with Leeds United – however his stay lasted seven months before he was axed by Leeds Owner Massimo Cellino, becoming the 6th Manager sacked by Cellino in two years.
The fact he delivered no promotions or real success to Leeds in his 38 game tenure was [wrongly] questioned by some, could Evans manage at a higher level – had he lost the magic touch?
Personally that’s rubbish, his record speaks volumes and if you look at how he transformed us last season in a short spell, those whisperings of doubt should have been well and truly extinguished – however I do think this is the biggest challenge of his career as I say, perhaps a little because they’ll be a voice in his head wanting to prove the niggling voices wrong [we all get them, let’s not deny that] – but also because the way in which football is managed now over a longer period, has changed.
That change came into effect at the start of last season – as the transfer window said, with the expectation of unregistered players, you could only sign a player during the window, meaning that vital short term loan option to cover injury or just freshen things up, was gone.
To clubs like our beloved Mansfield, that rule could have ruined us – how many times have we been in a position where a one/two month loan was needed? Too many to count. Every club was in the same boat in fairness, some managed it better than others and if you look at how Evans has gone about his business this window so far, you have to ask – actually, has he been very coy here and given the club the depth needed for those sticky patches late in September through to December when a fresh pair of legs with quality is needed.
I think he has, I think I could name four, maybe even five different combinations of shapes and sides Evans can utilise to get us through those periods where others clubs might be struggling.
The challenge comes in managing this in the right way, let’s take for instance we had a squad of 20 [Including the younger players Jack Thomas and Lewis Collins] rather than 24 [the current number] – the four others would have been brought in on the loan market to support the 18 senior players at pivotal points in previous seasons, they’d come in from other clubs hungry to show what they can do etc, now they come within – but will those four (whoever they may be) be happy to be sitting on the side lines just waiting for their chance to come?
How often do you rotate things to keep players happy, to keep players fresh, and to keep them competitive and fit? Its all well and good playing pre-season friendlies in banks of 60/30 or 45 a piece when you can make unlimited substitutions, but over the course of a season – it’s not as easy.
I guess the Under 21s Set-Up will be used, or to give it the proper title ‘The Reserves’ – but Steve Evans has previously commented that whilst he’s happy for senior players needing game time to play the home fixtures, he doesn’t like them travelling when the same benefits [of fitness and match minutes] can be arranged in house.
Will this be the case this season, no matter which combination you put out as your first eleven, those left [used as subs or just missing out] still makes up a VERY strong side! I think it’s great to have that depth to call upon, but we’ve been here once before – and on that occastion, splits in the group were rife, ladies and gentleman, this blog is dedicated to remembering ‘The Quarry Club – Circa 2013’
Paul Cox was the man at the helm and signed a number of high profile players who were highly thought of and wanted by other conference clubs – aka the clubs who were our nearest promotion rivals.
George Pilkington, Jamie Hand, Jamie Tolley, Andy Owens, Godfrey Poku, Nick Wright to name just a few – all top class players who didn’t get in the side early doors, ended up in the ‘Quarry Club’ and never made it back, tossed onto the Stags scrap heap, hating the club and causing ruptures within.
Luke Jones was the only one who made it out of the Quarry Club and into the team of heroes, I just hope that – with another big squad, with another load of ambitious hopes from the top – the whole thing is managed positively and firmly, imagine if we get to January and end up selling six players [therefore needing to recruit six] because players aren’t playing and they’re unsettled – that would set us back no end.
Mansfield Town do not need one step forward, two steps back.
I have no doubt that Steve Evans will be subject to speculation about his future throughout the campaign, it’s natural given his reputation – it’s clear listening to him that he feels like he had more to give at Leeds United and very much wants to be in that division again in the future, as he deserves to be – but let’s not forget, he turned other clubs down to be here, and for this season at the very least – he’ll fight to the end, to find the answer to the bookmakers questions ‘Can Mansfield Town win Promotion to League One’.
We all have a hope we can’t surrender as we head into the new season, the hope of success and celebration, let’s not get drawn into speculation and the rumour mill – let’s sit back, sing loud and close the door on Mansfield Town being a league two club, or being that side who won the conference a few years ago. That starts at Crewe on Saturday!
For more topics like this, make sure to download and listen to the BRAND NEW Mansfield Matters Podcast which will launch this coming Friday [4th August] at around 6pm – we’ll have lost of Stags topics, mixed in with fun/daft features which we welcome you to get involved with on Social Media. PLEASE tell your friends and spread the word, let’s follow the journey together
Craig Priest writes…
During his weekly press-call earlier today, Steve Evans joked about one bus turning left and one turning right – as the Stags head for Matlock and Gainsborough respectively tomorrow evening.
The first team will be equally split on each coach, first thing Wednesday morning though I believe all this squad splitting has to stop, and the nine-time promotion winner – need’s to put his players on a central path and say “right this is my side, the rest of you prove me to me why I should change it”.
The worse thing when you’re managing a group of people is the smaller groups that form within the whole, it’s human nature really to pair up with someone but when this happens and you form bonds with the minority, when the majority comes together – the pieces of the jigsaw won’t fit properly and in football that can have a huge effect within the dressing room.
Remember the school trip when you’d try and room up with your best mate, but then be split from them in group tasks – there was an awkwardness about the whole situation because from the off, you’ve stayed within your comfort zone rather than be open to include the whole group.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if there was a split dressing room already, not everybody will get along and that may be down to certain pairings and smaller groups isolating themselves from the rest. It’s the age old water cooler syndrome, where you’re reluctant to go and get water because you can’t engage in conversation about certain topics or feel part of stories – that happens a lot when players join from the same club.
In fairness Evans has tried to address this issue as much as possible and reshuffle the deck in every match, but the problem there is, with only x-amount of games to find partnerships – I’m feeling that as time goes on, certain players aren’t gelling and that leads to mistakes on the pitch which could be costly.
I can see why Evans has arranged the Matlock game tomorrow night to be played at the same time as the Gainsborough match – it’s one last chance for people to get a full 90 minutes in the tank and be match ready, but how he splits things will be interesting, does he go for partnerships, does he go for systems or does he get Hogwarts on the phone and ask to borrow the sorting hat which the players put on before learning which game they’ll play in? Potter’s in Griffindor [Sorry, had to be done]!
Actually that wouldn’t be a bad idea to build some trust – get every player sat in the dressing room and blindfold them and one by one - they’re led onto a bus. The blindfolds remain on until the arrival at said ground where on the bus during the journey, the players must communicate to know there team mates for the night and ultimately TRUST each-other.
Or maybe it’ll be “all those born in the first half of the month on bus one, all born in the second half of the month – bus two” – but a similar tactic didn’t end well for Mike Bassett.
Joking aside, I don’t for a second think Evans is going to do a U-Turn and send more players to one location, therefore one thing that is a must – Evans and Raynor must do the unthinkable and take a conscious uncoupling, another good reason actually for saying “sort who plays where out between yourselves, we’re just here to watch – not babysit”.
Imagine for a second being a Stags player (no, not doing a full lap of the pitch when you smash the winner from 40 yards against Chesterfield) – imagine being in “group B” and neither Raynor nor Evans being at your game – straight away the mind-set says “well they’re not interested in me, so why bother” Raynor is like a housewife really, on the outside it looks like Evans wears the trousers, but behind closed doors – Raynor, just like your Mrs, is the boss! By which I mean his opinions and views are equal and whole heartedly trusted by Evans.
If they want to make this split side scenario work, it has to be one side watched by Evans, the other by Raynor, both at the same game would be a huge mistake on a whole number of levels.
Naturally the other staff will chip in with their opinions, using Richard Cooper, John Dempster and Mike Whitlow from the U21s set-up gives more independent view-points, whilst you’ve also got Lee Taylor and Ian Pledger [and no doubt a team of scouts we don’t know about] to watch.
Wednesday morning comes, and the staff get locked in a room - nobody leaves until a starting XI for Crewe is ironed out, with Evans saying to the squad “this is it, those who haven’t made it – don’t spit your dummies out, prove to me why you should be involved –in training, when you appear against Alfreton and [dare I say] Rainworth”.
Then the group knows where everybody stands, and the squad as a whole moves on with one thing in mind – winning football matches and getting Mansfield Town out of League Two.
There comes a point when you have to stop experimenting and flirting around the edges, you can break down the walls in your own mind a million times, but you have to put one foot in front of the other at some point and take the first step – you’re never going to live, if you’re too scared to die.
I believe this is Steve Evans biggest test as a manager [a talking point I’ll address in another blog maybe this week, but certainly before the start of the season] and I don’t think that’s been helped by the changes to the transfer market which came into force last season [again another point for another day] – but with League Two so competitive, the room for error is little.
Tomorrow afternoon one group of players become two, two buses will leave the ground travelling to two matches. They’ll be two sets of games to analyse and two results to reflect on – two groups will arrive back at the One Call Stadium following an intentional divide, it’s going to take one hell of a mathematician to make two become one again, but it has to be done – otherwise, it’ll be a long way home for the countless dreams of the Mansfield Town dreamers.
Mark Plumb writes...
Mansfield Town welcomed Premier League hopefuls Middlesbrough at One Call Stadium, as part of their preseason preparations ahead of the new season.
It was another good test for the Stags with tougher opposition but mostly importantly getting minutes on their belts. Their was no Assomlabonga in the team for Middlesbrough though, much to the disappointment for anyone wanting to see the £15m man.
The Stags got off to a good start by pressing the championship side high up the pitch forcing Konstantopolous into saves early on from Sterling James and Lee Angol. The backline of Taft and Diamond in coped well under pressure, not to mention White and Benning who rose well to the challenge.
It paid off when the Stags was awarded a free kick,when Byrom whipped in a ball out to Benning, who whipped a good ball into the box and the unfortunate Johnny Howson scuffed his clearance into his own net to make it a deserved 1-0 lead to the home side. Shortly afterwards the Stags doubled their lead with a defence splitting pass in from Paul Digby who found Lee Angol with a cool finish to make it 2-0 to Steve Evans men.
The deficit got pulled back with a ball over to the top to Mikael Sisako whos persistence got his just rewards as he ran into the box, whose shot was an absolute net buster, no chance for any keeper to save to make the score 2-1.
The goal gave Gary Monks men confidence and tested Bobby Ojenik, which drew some impressive stops from the former Exeter City man, who did himself no harm in impressing Steve Evans. He could do nothing from the equaliser from a corner quick where Daniel Feoy rose well to bring the score level 2-2, much to some questionable defending.
The second half Boro enjoyed a lion share of possession throughout the half but the Stags showed they could compete and was great at hitting them on the counter with Paul Digby who was the interceptor of their attacks and had played well alongside Paul Anderson in midfield.
Sterling James caused problems for them all game, running at them and putting in some good balls into the box, along with Angol who tracked back well and brought others into play working hard for the team. Jack Thomas also got run out for the last part of the game, hoping to be apart of Steve Evans plans going forward with a point to prove.
Jordan Slew also got a chance to impress with Evans, who played the night before against Stocksbridge the night before showing why he should be given a contract with the Stags. Overall another good workout for Mansfield against another tougher opposition, hoping to mount a promotion challenge of their own.
Their was a number of good displays out their, that will no doubt give manager Steve Evans a good headache to have ahead of the new season. Another big test will be against Nottingham Forest, that will give the former Leeds man a fair idea of who will start against Crewe. Up The Stags !!
On this page you will find a range of articles written by the Mansfield Matters team, including our popular Match Preview's and our in depth Match Reports.
As with our open forum for fans, we encourage you to share your views by posting on our Terrace Talk blog – to submit an article please email it in Microsoft Word format.
Please read the disclaimer on the home page.