Full Time Score Mansfield Town 1-2 Crewe Alexandra
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue One Call Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Krystian Pearce
Attendance 4,675 (247)
Craig Priest writes…
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, dripping in a chilling cold sweat sitting bolt upright surrounded by darkness, unable to shake the visions of the nightmare you’ve just awoken from? That’s exactly what happened to me at 4am this morning as I pondered what on earth has happened to my Mansfield Town.
It feels like we’ve been zapped back through time to a point where defeats were a forgone conclusion and players didn’t care in the slightest about fighting for the shirt, unfazed by how much those around them do care. It’s strange to think that only a few months ago, this Mansfield Town side were playing mouth-watering football – they had us wanting more, they had us believing.
All of that feels fake – it feels like we’ve been promised top quality merchandise by an honest and reputable seller, only to be greeted by Del Boy and his three wheeled van.
So what has gone wrong? How have hungry, bloody thirsty Mansfield transformed into this team of lazy, uninterested bunch of gutless waters – happy to watch as the hard work comes crashing down around us?
If I knew the answer I’d tell you, but I don’t – I just watch on each week with frustration boiling inside me as every value David Flitcroft installed into his players crumbles infront of my eyes.
A year ago we were played off the park by Forest Green Rovers in the match which killed hopes of a play-off charge under the newly installed Flitcroft, more defeats followed as a lack of want and desire to play for the manager, for each other, for the club and for the fans toxically spiralled out of control – a 4-3 loss to Crewe at home the tip of the iceburg – simply, we can’t allow this to happen again.
I go on social media and see negativity, I walk from the ground biting my lip as negativity fills the air and I write this morning angrily smashing the keyboard as I allow myself to churn out a negative picture, scorned, frustrated and utterly (insert swear word) off with the way we’ve carelessly allowed ourselves to fall from grace.
Questions fill my head – did we get our recruitment wrong in January? Are certain players dragging us down with there want to play for the name on the back of the shirt rather than the one on the front? Are we blighted by the curse of injury? Are we ever destined to progress as a club? Do we even want it?
These questions have to be answered on the pitch, as fans we have a right to be negative because we’re driven to it through false promise and a lack of inspiration from on the pitch – we desperately want to sing, shout and support the team but simply can’t when what we get back from the players is a flat and sluggish display which lacks desire and care. The players have to show us they want to deliver what they set out to achieve.
Above all else what annoys me most about our fall from grace is not the face we’ve fallen, but the fact nobody is taking responsibility – so here is where I hope it all changes; to those who can affect our destiny, if you WANT to ACHIEVE something POSITIVE, if you have the DESIRE to turn things around and SUCCEED – then go and show us, no hiding behind excuses. If you DON’T CARE then PLEASE walk away now and play no further part – because just one person’s negative energy brings the whole thing crashing down.
David Flitcroft in his post-match interview alluded to something similar; I hope he has the gumption and power to remove those who don’t care. If this means our squad is made up on more hungry, but unproven, youngsters rather than the so called established higher level players then so be it. I’d rather have a team who have the want, desire and bottle to give it a go, than a team who don’t care.
Changes? Yes I’d make a few, and to be honest they may appear drastic to some but it’s mainly due to circumstance. The goalkeeper situation means no Oljenik, Smith and Logan can alternate I’m not bother – just back whoever is played, the goalkeeper at this stage of the season when things aren’t going our way will always be the first in the firing line.
My system would be a basic 4-4-2 with a back four of Jones or Atkinson, Pearce and Preston in the middle and Benning at left back (I’ve omitted Sweeney for a reason – bare with). In midfield I’d go Khan (he’s looked bright whenever he’s come on a deserves the opportunity), MacDonald and Bishop with Hamilton on the left. Up front, Walker and SWEENEY!
Yes, I’m playing a central defender as an out and out striker! I’m not mad, maybe slightly desperate BUT, we have no Danny Rose (Target man, his chance creation and link up play is missed), we have no Craig Davies (similar reason to Rose, perhaps not on the same level but still) and we have no Jordan Graham (young enthusiasm who can do the above) – AND every time Sweeney has gone up front, the fact he can actually play with the ball at feet has made him difficult to deal with – he’s excellent in the air and physically fit, thus bringing the work rate in the final third that we are so obviously missing.
It may well seem a little bit square peg in a round hole but right now we need to go and dominate teams – showing some passion and fight for the cause.
Alas I’m not the manager, I don’t coach the team and have no desire to. I believe in David Flitcroft and I believe that underneath this thick layer of frustration and woeful form lies a team capable of delivering. ONE GAME CHANGES EVERYTHING.
I am however a supporter. I WILL make the journey to Exeter and I WILL ALWAYS back my team. Come on you Stags, turn this living nightmare – into the dream we all wish for. NOTHING is impossible.
David Flitcroft made just the one change, Smith for Logan between the sticks with question marks hanging over the latter’s part in the debatable spot-kick against league leaders Lincoln.
CLICK HERE for the clubs official report.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-2 Crewe Alexandra
STAGS [3-4-1-2] Jordan Smith, Matt Preston, Krystain Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Gethin Jones (Nicky Ajose HT), Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis, Mal Benning (Otis Khan 76), Jorge Grant (Alex MacDonald 63), Tyler Walker, CJ Hamilton
Unused Subs: Conrad Logan, Willem Tomlinson, Ben Turner, Alistar Smith,
Referee: Thomas Bramall
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