Sky Bet League Two, Saturday 2nd October 2021
A few weeks ago when the Stags’ problems with injuries started to set in, Nigel Clough said that when it rains, it pours – well, add in seemingly endless suspensions and poor decisions to the mix and now, the Stags are in real danger of getting drowned by the rain.
A second half penalty and a red card to Farrend Rawson were the main talking points from yesterday’s 1-0 loss at home to Barrow, a defeat which has fans arguing on social media over if Clough is the right man for the job and is his name is the only thing keeping him on the employment roster – absolute rubbish!
Firstly, let’s take nothing away from Mark Cooper’s Barrow who under the experienced managers early leadership, are fighting to develop as a football league side, have signed some good players and are grounding out some good results the way Cooper does – they should have been out of sight by half time.
Secondly, the matter in hand – Clough wasn’t going to come in and transform things overnight – IF we have a FULL SQUAD available and were getting these types of results, I’d perhaps have a different perspective, but we haven’t and are literally surviving game by game right now.
One transfer window (technically two but I don’t think January should be reflected as a main one, it’s more of a fuel stop) was never going to fix the Stags problems, I do think we got it wrong and took too long, but also the volume of change we needed to transform into a successful club was never going to happen in one window – you’re looking at two minimum, with a fuel stop in between.
Clough was clear at the start of the season – we’ll try and compete, we’ll try and win promotion if we can, but if it doesn’t happen this season, we’ll be better placed to push the following season – we as fans have to accept that.
There’s no use whatsoever in a change again, we DID need it last season under Coughlan because it was clear he wasn’t the man to streamline budgets AND build a squad capable of GROWING OVER TIME – Clough is, he’s proven it everywhere he’s been. Of course if we’d played 20-25 games, were rock bottom shipping goals for fun, unable to score with a FULL COMPLIMENT OF PLAYERS, it’d be different, but that’s not the situation we’re in – it’s not sustainable to repaint the wall every time there’s a bit of muck or dirt that blots the colour.
This goes back years to Flitcroft – I HATE mentioning this, because it’s such a tired point of discussion but it’s true, we are STILL rebuilding from his sacking two and a bit seasons on whereas had we kept him and given him until Christmas to go again, we’d probably have progressed now because we’d have healed TOGETHER, rather than fall apart from the core – if you don’t know what I mean, listen to our Stags Stories with Neal Bishop.
Back to the here and now, yesterday was a tad unlucky – the penalty is bemusing, there’s no foul there from what I can see, no handball and no shouts for it from Barrow – but it’s given, scored and again we fail to react – mainly because our best centre forward, is our best central defender!
As for the sending off, my initial feeling was that the Barrow player is coming back from offside – I’ve just watched it back and it appears Rawson gets the slightest of touches to therefor play him ONSIDE – the foul is lazy and clumsy and by the letter of the law is a straight red, HOPEFULLY it’ll be one game like Ollie Clarke’s was, but I won’t hold my breath, enjoy your three game rest Faz!
The problem is who comes in, will Clough go for James Clarke at right back, moving Hewitt back central, Burke at left back to put McLaughlin central, young George Cooper or maybe a back three of Hewitt, Hawkins, McLaughlin – whatever, we need to back the boys and power on through the storm!
Go back to basics, let’s be tough to break down and keep a clean sheet – that way we’;re guaranteed a point, if our strikers can find some fire at the other end and nick us a goal, even better. For now though, togetherness and basics will do!
STAGS: Bishop, McLaughlin, Hewitt, Rawson, Charsley, O. Clarke, Bowery, Maris (Law 83’), Hawkins, Oates (Johnson 65’), Lapslie UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey, Burke, Ward, J. Clarke, Cooper
Attendance: 3,931 (190)
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