Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox: Only top seven safe from relegation battle
Nottingham Post, January 31, 2014
FROM Newport to Northampton, eighth place to 24th, Paul Cox insists League Two's relegation battle encompasses all but the top seven.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-boss-Paul-Cox-seven-safe/story-20536277-detail/story.html#ixzz2ryLdJwJy
And the Mansfield Town boss is keen to ensure it stays that way for as long as possible.
Tomorrow's trip to Plymouth Argyle is a chance for the Stags to ensure their opponents remain in the mix as they sit seven places but just four points above them in the table.
So congested is the division, only 16 points separate the entire bottom 17 places.
As much as he is trying to keep his focus solely on his own side, Cox admits it is a situation from which he can take comfort.
"You look at it and think, we're not stuck in a horrible place at the minute because two results can change your season," he said. "But two results can change anybody's season, and that's what we've got to be careful of.
"I'm not one to be looking over my shoulder and looking what other people are doing, I purely like to focus on what we do and what we can do.
"You have to look at the league table, it's part of my job to make sure we get the points needed to get us to what would be a successful position this season.
"But it's all about us, and I don't mean that to come across as being arrogant in any way, but what everyone else does is an uncontrollable for me.
"What we do here is controllable, and it's the controllables I concentrate on.
"Every manager from eighth downwards will be looking over their shoulder. It's only human nature.
"Every manager will be looking at the league table and results after games.
"I think it's the team which keeps their nerve and keeps focused which will ultimately be in a healthy position come the end of the season."
It is the Stags' form on the road which has, so far at least, ensured they have their heads above water.
Cox is keen to ensure that continues at Home Park and make up for the 1-0 defeat his team suffered in the reverse fixture.
Neal Trotman scored a 90th minute winner in that game after the hosts had missed several chances.
Mansfield have continued to struggle in front of goal since then.
Last weekend saw them dominate against Wycombe Wanderers but fall 2-0 behind before fighting back to secure a draw. It is an issue the manager says they are working on.
"We're working hard, we're looking very hard to beat, and more than anything, we're creating some good chances," said Cox, who also hinted winger Sam Clucas could be in line for a starting spot.
"What we need to do now is be a bit more ruthless.
"We just have to keep working on players' mindsets, keep working them in training - that's what we're trying to do.
"We're always trying different things in training to try to change that bit of focus and change that bit of mindset.
"These players are quite capable. The same group of players at the beginning of the season lost two games in 13. We're quite capable of going on a run of results.
"Everybody's in the same boat. We win one game and I think we jump up four or five places depending on results, win two and, wow, you find yourself in the top ten.
"There's always someone who gets pulled into a relegation battle and always one team who comes out the pack - that could be any team from eighth downwards at the minute."
Paul Cox eager to welcome Sam Clucas and Ben Hutchinson back into Mansfield Town starting XI
Nottingham Post, February 01, 2014
MANSFIELD Town boss Paul Cox will rule with his 'head not my heart' when it comes to the progress of injured duo Sam Clucas and Ben Hutchinson.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Paul-Cox-eager-welcome-Sam-Clucas-Ben-Hutchinson/story-20542237-detail/story.html#ixzz2s4Qw1Aaa
The former returned to action last weekend, from the substitutes' bench against Wycombe Wanderers, following five weeks out with ankle ligament damage.
Team-mate Hutchinson has been sidelined for the same period with a hamstring problem, though returned to training last week.
Cox is desperate to welcome both back into the starting XI, though stressed neither will be rushed.
"Sam came in a couple of days after last weekend and he was as stiff as a board," said the Stags manager ahead of today's trip to Plymouth Argyle.
"It's a tough one really because it's about using your head not your heart.
"My heart says chuck him in because everyone can see what a qualityfootballer he is, like Ben Hutchinson.
"We want to get them into the squad as quickly as possible but we've got to be careful.
"We've got some very important games between now and the end of the season.
"Rushing them can sometimes put them back."
"More so Hutch probably than with Clucs because his was a different type of injury. Hutch was a muscle injury, so we've got to be a bit more careful with him.
"I would love them both back but we've got to be patient with them both.
"I'll speak to both players and if Clucas thinks he can start a game then I might chuck him in, if not, we'll bed him in nicely.
"The quicker we can get the boys in contention for a place, the better.
"Everyone's going to be needed between now and the end of the season.
"A blind man can see Ben's a good player, so it's just about his fitness now.
"As soon as we get his level of fitness up to scratch, he'll be in the XI or on the bench."
Let’s go on a run, says Cox ahead of Plymouth trip
Paul Cox called on his Mansfield Town players to go on another run of success to secure safety in what looks to be a wide open relegation battle in League Two ahead of tomorrow’s game at Plymouth Argyle.
Cox was told this week he won’t be allowed to bring in any more players this season, but, having already seen the current squad produce a superb run of form earlier in the season, he is not too worried by the transfer ban.
Stags have now lost just once in six and Cox, who always seems to get his sides on a roll in the second half of a season, said: “You look at this league and only the top seven are guaranteed staying in this division next season.
“There will be a lot of twists and turns and a lot of anxiety between now and the end of the season.
“We are in a good place, working hard, looking very, very hard to beat and creating some good chances.
“This is the same group of players that only lost two of their first 13 games and they are quite capable of going on a run of results.
“It is all about sticking together and creating a one, especially at home games.
“The majority of the games we have left now are at home and it’s all about creating a fortress.
“Win a game and you can jump up four or five places if other results go for you. Win two and you can be in the top 10.
“There will always be someone that gets pulled down into the relegation battle and always someone who comes out of the pack to challenge at the top end.
“It will be the team that keeps its nerve and focus that finished in a healthy position at the end of the season.”
This is Stags’ third long haul away game on the bounce and Cox added: “At Exeter and Portsmouth, the boys have been ultra-professional. We have stayed in hotels the night before and they have eaten the right foods, got the right sleep and prepared properly. They have shown that desire to be top of their profession and got some good results
“We know it will be a tough one tomorrow. We had a bit of a disappointing result at home to Plymouth earlier in the season. It was another of those ‘should have’ games, but we fell to a goal in the 93rd minute. But you can’t change the past and we are hoping for a better outcome tomorrow.”
Stags’ home midweek game with Bury fell victim to a waterlogged pitch and Cox said: “It was disappointing as I feel we are picking up a bit of momentum. We’ve only lost one in six and we did enough on Saturday to win two football matches.
“But the whole country has got it at the moment and you can’t control the weather.
“It’s (Stags’ current form) all in the mind. The players now seem to be in a good place, though no one is getting carried away.
“Anyone at the game last weekend (a 2-2 home draw with Wycombe) would say we deserved to win it on chances created. Once again we came up a keeper in inspired form, but I am tired of hearing that - we just need to be more ruthless.”
Cox calls on minority of Stags fans to get off players’ backs
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has called on a minority of fans to get off the backs of certain players as the Stags battle to stay in League Two.
Lee Stevenson, who has scored in three of the Stags’ last four games, Ollie Palmer, Anthony Howell, James Jennings and Ritchie Sutton have all taken some fearsome flak from the fans this season and Cox said: “Our supporters have been magnificent, we took 600 down to Portsmouth where all you could hear was Mansfield Town.
“But some of the players have had some stick which, although I know it is a game of opinions, I think has been unwarranted.
“Lee Stevenson is becoming a one goal every two games or one in three player at this level. I have scoured the market for a centre forward recently and know the figures being banded about. So sometimes we should be careful.
“Sometimes what they need is a pat on the back like they got last Saturday which can be worth a million pounds to these lads.
“They want to be successful for the club and have not gone out in any game this season and strolled around and thought they had arrived. They have worked really hard.”
Clements: Squad has an extra incentive
mansfieldtown.net, 30th January 2014
Midfielder Chris Clements thinks our team are capable of extending their current good form in Sky Bet League Two.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/clements-squad-has-an-extra-incentive-1328433.aspx#UY4566doVKyo1kRK.99
Clements, who grabbed an assist in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Wycombe Wanderers, also believes our squad has an extra incentive to succeed in the remainder of this campaign.
“We’ve got to look at every game as a big game and go into it wanting to win,” said the midfielder.
“The fact that [Saturday’s match] is a long, long journey makes it a little bit harder, but we’re staying overnight so we should have fresh legs come the morning.
“Hopefully, we can get something - even a point would be a good result away from home.
“If you get a few wins under your belt, you can rocket up the table and that’s what we need to do. We need to concentrate on not losing, but gaining points.”
The 23-year-old also thinks the news earlier this week that the club will be signing no new players during the current transfer window, gives our squad an extra incentive to succeed.
He continued: “I think it gives us an incentive to prove that, as a group of players, we’ve got what it takes and quality in-depth to actually stay in the league.
“It’s a big onus on us to try and prove to the gaffer that we can actually do it ourselves.”
Reflecting on last weekend’s match with Wycombe Wanderers, the creative playmaker believes we should have taken all three points.
“We found ourselves 2-0 down due to two silly mistakes and it’s those little lapses of concentration that we’ve got to take care of,” said Clements.
“We can score goals. We scored two and in the end we should have probably won, but it’s a little bit of concentration we’ve got to work on in order to win games.”
He added: “I don’t know what it is, but since Christmas we seem to be performing better and the results are showing.”
Transfer ban can spark Stags - Clements
Midfield ace Chris Clements is adamant the ban on transfers at One Call Stadium can spark the Stags to achieve League Two safety.
Stags boss Paul Cox learned this week that his transfer window kitty has gone to fight a club legal action against the club’s former owners Steve Hymas and Andy Saunders, who are demanding repayment of almost £1m in loans.
But Clements said: “It is a great incentive as a group to show we have got what it takes and the quality needed to stay in this league. We have enough quality in this squad.
“I don’t know what it is, but since Christmas we seem to be performing better, not just getting the results.”
The squad today set off on the longest journey of the season for tomorrow’s match at Plymouth and Clements said: “We have got to be looking at every game as a big game that we want to win.
“It is a long, long journey, but we are staying overnight and will have fresh legs in the morning. Even a point away from home would be good.
“I hate these journeys, I would rather play at home 10 minutes down the road for me.
“But we have to do these things and it is a decent stadium and a decent pitch so it should be a good place to go.
“If we can get a few wins we can rocket ourselves up the table.
“We just need to concentrate on getting points and not losing games.
“We have some tough games coming up against teams like Oxford and Fleetwood and need to take each game as it comes and make sure we get something out of it.
“A couple of teams with games in hand on us caught up on Tuesday night so it gives us a better perspective where we actually are.”
Clements is now back to full fitness after his injury lay-off and said: “I thought I was doing well before my injury, so it was a big blow for me. But our physio did an amazing job and got me back pretty quickly.
“I think I am doing well again now. It’s all about match fitness. You can run around a pitch as much as you want but it’s all about getting that sharpness and making sure your head is right every game.
“Last weekend we found ourselves 2-0 down due to silly mistakes. I take the blame for the second goal as I let my man run off me. We need to get rid of these lapses in concentration. But with the pressure we put on, we should have won it in the end.”
Clements also had words of support for midfield colleague Anthony Howell, so often a target for terrace boo boys.
“Anthony does a lot of work without the ball which I don’t think people recognise. He works hard for the team,” said Clements.
“People don’t often see what he does and the positions he takes. So it has been a bit harsh to criticise him. But he is a big boy and takes it on the chin.”
Mansfield Town more solid with switch to a back three, says Ritchie Sutton
Nottingham Post, January 31, 2014
SWITCHING to three at the back has bolstered Mansfield Town's defensive resolve, according to Ritchie Sutton.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-solid-switch-says-Ritchie-Sutton/story-20536340-detail/story.html#ixzz2ryLpYjAu
The 27-year-old has been a key part of the Stags' back line, alongside John Dempster and Ryan Tafazolli in recent games.
The latter in particular, has begun to find some form, and Sutton says it can only be beneficial for the team's hopes of securing survival.
"I've known Ryan over the last couple of seasons and he's always shown glimpses of what he can do," he said.
"He's a big lad and he's got all the attributes to be a good centre-half.
"He's starting to show that now and hopefully, with the experience of Demp and myself alongside him, he'll become a great player.
"Going to a three has made us more solid.
"Early on in the season we picked up good results playing with a three.
"We changed it a little bit, things didn't go to plan, so we've gone back to it now and we've only lost one in six.
"We're starting to look strong again and we just want to continue that."
A waterlogged pitch at the One Call Stadium resulted in the Stags' midweek game with Bury being postponed.
But Sutton says weather-weary surfaces will not hinder the players.
"Even if the pitches are getting bad, we're used to that," he added.
"We played at a lot of grounds last year where the pitches were like that.
"We're confident we're going to pick up the points at Plymouth tomorrow and be out of the relegation battle in no time."
Sutton hoping Plymouth haul is not in vain
With snow and heavy rain forecast, Stags defender Ritchie Sutton is hoping the long haul down to Plymouth today for tomorrow’s League Two clash with Argyle doesn’t become the second Mansfield game to fall victim to the weather this week.
Said Sutton: “We have been down to Exeter and Portsmouth this month when the games were in doubt but were on. So I hope the same happens against Plymouth.
“I am confident we can go there and pick up something. I feel we can go anywhere at the moment. We went away to a club as strong as Portsmouth and I was confident we were going to win, though we were held to a draw, and we had great wins at Chesterfield and Exeter.
“We have some great talents in the squad and there is more than enough in that changing room to get us out of the position we are in.
“We know the task in hand from now to the end of the season. We have broken the games down and set ourselves targets
“Going three at the back means more places for me to play so I am happy. We picked up some good results like that early in the season. But then we changed it and things didn’t go to plan.”
Last weekend the Stags showed their mettle by coming back from 2-0 down to draw at home with Wycombe.
“We had more than enough chances to come in at the break two or three up,” he said. “But, coming off the pitch at the end, we were happy to have fought back from 2-0 down. We showed good character, though it was disappointing to go 2-0 down and disappointing not to win the game.
“I think the first goal took us all by surprise as we were on top.
“We were confident of getting one back before half-time, but we didn’t. We came back out with a game plan and, before we knew it, we were 2-0 down. But we put on a lot of pressure after that and scored twice and, on another day, we could have won it 4-2.”
Then on Tuesday, the home clash with Bury was called off.
“It was one of those things,” he said. “After a game like Wycombe, when we were on top, you just want to get back out on the field as soon as possible. It wasn’t to be and we just have to continue it this weekend now.”
Latest | February 2014