Sky Bet League Two – Saturday 31st October 2020, One Call Stadium [Behind Closed Doors] | Richard Cooper in caretaker charge
As the Mansfield Town owners and CEO work hard behind the scenes to seek a new manager following the departure of Graham Coughlan on Tuesday, Richard Cooper was tasked with taking charge of the Stags as they took on Walsall – and despite another afternoon without a win, the subtle changes – certainly had an impact.
The Stags put in a much improved display and looked more free to go and play an expressive game, playing out from the back in a 4-3-3 formation – with Nicky Maynard particularly impressing sat a little deeper than usual.
The experienced front man also notched his first goal of the season and linked up well with Cook and Reid, along with the midfield in a patch work side with, in reality, eight attack minded players within the starting line-up.
Cooper, assisted by Mike Whitlow, Jamie McGuire and Acadmey coaches Sam Wilson and Sam Collins – had his hands tied somewhat with three players still having to self-isolate – he was also dealt a blow on Thursday as Rollin Menayese picked up a knock, meaning midfielder James Perch had to play centre back with Aaron O’Driscoll also suspended.
Perch played very well and skippered the side, a role I’m sure he’ll continue on Tuesday at Bolton with vice captain Ryan Sweeney still having to self-isolate and skipper Ollie Clarke still injured.
Along with a change in system, Cooper also changed the dressing room arrangements – ultimately meaning that the entirety of the Stags squad stayed together in one room (Kevin Bird Suite) rather than having to split across the home and away dressing rooms – as per the covid guidelines.
From a preparation point of view this made total sense, having to split over two dressing rooms automatically creates difficulty in creating a positive atmosphere before kick-off and getting instructions across – why should you, as the home team, be put at a disadvantage, enforced by your own facilities?
As a result of this, the Stags then warmed up at the opposite end of the ground than usual and switched dugouts – not for a second am I saying that THAT was the problem under GC, that’s just plain daft to assume that, but what I am saying is that it’s something different. A new routine, a new focus, a fresh start – and we all needed that.
Cooper and his team had just two days to prepare and judging by the post-match interview, will do the same for Tuesday’s trip to struggling Bolton – boosted by the return of Aaron O’Driscoll from suspension and Mal Benning, whose ten day isolation post positive covid test, ended Friday.
There are a few people on Social Media saying we need to appoint a manager before Tuesday with Tranmere joining ourselves and Salford in looking for a new manager. Personally I don’t think we need to rush here, let Cooper and his team take charge of Tuesday and build upon the changes they’ve already made in a short space of time and try and get a win, they deserve a shot at it and the players seem to have responded.
We then have, in my opinion, the perfect window to appoint a manager who can then either take charge and experiment themselves or allow Cooper to continue for two games and have the luxury of watching from the outside with Sunderland and Scunthorpe in the FA Cup and Pappa Johns Trophy respectively.
Well done to Coops and the players, it wasn’t a win but it was so much better than what we saw under GC – Bring on Tuesday night, football is needed more than ever now with Lockdown Two looming from Thursday!
Click HERE to read the clubs official match report.
STAGS: Marek Stech | Kellan Gordon, Farrend Rawson, James Perch ©, Stephen McLaughlin | Harry Charsley, George Lapslie, George Maris | Nicky Maynard, Jamie Reid, Andy Cook (Jordan Bowery 75)
Unused Subs: Aidan Stone, Alistair Smith James Clarke, Tyrese Sinclair, Jason Law
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