Tomorrow night see’s the most underrated competition return as the 2017/18 season’s checkatrade trophy journey begins – however, whilst some might see it as one huge irrelevance, I think Mansfield Town’s name should be the one engraved on the trophy at Wembley at the end of the season.
No, I’ve not gone mad, I’m simply looking at the strength we have in depth and thinking – if those players want to stake a claim for league two action – they need to perform, and its games such as the checkatrade trophy where they’ll get the opportunity to do so.
There are other benefits too which I’ll come onto in a minute, but first put yourself into the frame of mind of say Johnny Hunt, George Taft, Alex MacDonald and Bobby Olejnik to name but a few, after Saturday’s unacceptable complete bottle job of dropping two points – those players who will more than likely feature tomorrow, have a perfect opportunity to perform well and say to Steve Evans “this is why you need to be picking me on Saturday at Carlisle”.
First on my “Check List” for tomorrow night is to see Mansfield Town, regardless of how many keep their place from Saturday, come out fighting holding nothing back in a way of saying “we messed up Saturday and we’re sorry” – it’s not about the 11 players who are on the pitch at a certain time (aka when mistakes are made), it’s about winning and losing together, taking the highs and the lows of the roller-coaster (sorry, wrong season) together, Rhys Bennett’s comments should be pinned up in the dressing room along with the still image of his face – they say a picture say’s a million words, only one was needed on this occasion, HURT.
Second on the check list is really testing this co called strength in depth, Bobby Olejnik is too good to be sitting on the bench and must be eager to dislodge an ever frustrating Logan from the starting line-up in games other than cup games, whilst George Taft, Johnny Hunt, Alfie Potter and Alex MacDonald have barley had a look in – fair enough, the latter has been injured, but again he’ll be keen to prove a point.
We have a really strong squad from top to bottom, regardless of the niggles that have plagued us so far this season – looking at naming an eleven that didn’t start on Saturday, it’s a team any manager would give their right arm for… Oljenik, White, Diamond, Taft, Hunt, MacDonald, Potter, Digby, Hamilton, Sterling-James, Rose… I could make an argument for every single one of those players as to why they’d want to impress.
ALL of those players are FIRST TEAM players which means, according to the rules of the competition, Steve Evans could name that exact line-up and not be in trouble for making 11 changes, the wording is no long “five players who started the previous league match” as it used to be.
Away from the on pitch stuff for number three on the checklist – financial return. John & Carolyn have put in a lot of money and will be slightly nervy of failure, as frustrating and irrelevant as some may see the Checkatrade Trophy, the trades regulator has bumped up the prize money again for this season – we did quite well out of it last season and if you look at Coventry, who won the competition last year despite being relegated from league one, the prize money they accumulated has no doubt been reinvested and will aid them in their promotion ambitions.
We have a winnable group and tomorrow will see some familiar faces return to the One Call Stadium, but please whilst we’ll give Green a rapturous reception – can we not go back down the “we should have kept him” route? Living in the past isn’t going to get us anywhere.
Lincoln will be up for it and whilst they won’t know exactly what to expect, let’s treat it as another game, three bags of goal will help massively in the dressing room to lift the mood and to get us up and ready for the long trip to Carlise, a game we really need to win to kick start our season ahead of some more tasty local encounters.
The checkatrade trophy is not a competition we should ignore, it gives players the opportunity to keep challenging to make a difference in the league, it gives us a nice, not massive I grant you, but nice all the same income without doing too much for it – and furthermore, gives us supporters the chance to visit Wembley again – if ever we were strong enough to last the distance and do so, it’s not – Steve, make it happen!
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