STAGS (RE)SIGN WILL ATKINSON
Stags strengthen squad by signing versatile midfielder
mansfieldtown.net, 30th May 2017
Mansfield Town have today completed the signing of two-time promotion-winning Southend United midfielder Will Atkinson, the club is delighted to announce.
The 28-year-old previously spent a month on loan at One Call Stadium in 2008, making 12 appearances in the amber and blue.
Driffield-born, Atkinson graduated from the academy of local side Hull City in 2006 as an 18-year-old after signing a two-and-a-half year professional contract with the Tigers.
However, his senior debut came during a loan spell with then-League One side Port Vale against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/2016-17/experienced-midfielder-becomes-stags-latest-recruit-3726749.aspx#OcdLYIgyP0Vo1kFM.99
During a six-year spell with Hull as a professional, Atkinson embarked on seven different loan spells - including two separate stints with Rochdale - before leaving the KCOM Stadium on a permanent basis to join Bradford City, with whom he’d spent the second half of the 2011/12 season.
He enjoyed an incredibly successful year with the Bantams as they surprised the football world by reaching the final of the League Cup.
Atkinson appeared in every round as Bradford defeated three Premier League sides en route to the final - Wigan on penalties, Arsenal on penalties and Aston Villa over two legs.
The Bantams were defeated 5-0 in the final by Premier League Swansea City, but nevertheless became the first side from the fourth tier of English football to reach the League Cup final since Rochdale in 1962.
Atkinson was part of the Bradford side which returned to Wembley Stadium just three months later when they triumphed 3-0 over Northampton Town in the play-off final to secure promotion to League One.
Despite winning promotion, Atkinson opted to join then-League Two side Southend United. He was ever-present as the Blues reached the end of season play-offs.
He was a regular in the Southend team in 2014/15 as they won the play-off final, beating Wycombe Wanderers 7-6 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
The versatile midfielder made an instant impact in League One, playing 39 times in the Blues’ first season in the division, before scoring four goals in 41 appearances as Phil Brown’s men finished seventh in the 2016/17 season - a point and a place outside the play-offs.
Manager Steve Evans said: "I am delighted that Will has decided to join us. The lad has had a host of offers after a super season with Southend United so the interest in signing him comes as no surprise to me.
"He can play anywhere in midfield, is accomplished in either wide area but it is his performances in a more central position that have caught many managers' attention.
"The lad is a real competitor. He has huge energy levels to get around the pitch and is a very welcome addition to the squad we are assembling for the new season.
"We will continue to go about our business in a real professional way. It is my duty at this time to forget bank holidays and days off as this is such a critical stage," he continued.
"We are two players short of where we need to be. They are in key areas of the squad and I know who we want but, as always, you must have alternatives.
"My work continues and at this stage I am delighted with the quality we have brought together. The squad is very balanced, although not complete."
The deal is subject to EFL ratification.
Versatile midfielder highlights gaffer's influence after signing
mansfieldtown.net, 30th May 2017
After signing a deal at One Call Stadium earlier today, versatile midfielder Will Atkinson said manager Steve Evans played a key role in persuading him to join the club.
The 28-year-old made the switch from League One side Southend United this afternoon and in doing so became the club’s 11th signing since the end of the season.
And the former Hull City midfielder was full of praise for the gaffer as he spoke to mansfieldtown.net after putting pen-to-paper on a contract at One Call Stadium.
“I spoke to the manager, Steve Evans, and he really sold it to me,” Atkinson said.
“He was determined to get me in, he made me feel really wanted - that was a big part - and obviously I’ve spoken to people and got advice and they said the club was going places and I want to be a part of that.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/2016-17/versatile-midfielder-highlights-gaffers-influence-after-signing-3726948.aspx#LIFvtF48Zfo55zV6.99
“We got promotion there (Southend) and I’ve got no bad words to say about them but Steve Evans made me feel really wanted and really valued and sometimes a new challenge is what you need.
“I’m very impressed [with the signings] and that was another key factor in what attracted me here. I looked at who else he’d brought in - like Paul Anderson.
“I used to play youth team football with him at Hull, [and Stags have signed] other good players who have all been proven at this level and above, so I’m really excited to meet the boys and get going.”
The two-time promotion-winner previously spent a 12-game loan spell with the Stags in 2008 and he is now excited to represent the club once again in a season which he believes the club can challenge at the top of Sky Bet League Two.
“It feels really good to be back. It’s been a long time since I was here, a brief loan spell, and it’s great to be back. It’s exciting times for Mansfield Town and I’m looking forward to it.
“As a player, I’ve gone on and I’ve done fairly well. I’ve got promotions under my belt and I feel like I’m much more experienced now and hopefully I can bring that to the current squad.
“It’s a tough division to get out of, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of good teams in here, a lot of teams will fancy their chances, but I’m here for one reason and one reason only and that’s because I believe Mansfield will be challenging.
“It’s a long old season, so you need a good squad but looking at what the gaffer’s put together here, we’ve definitely got that. With a little bit of luck, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be up there challenging.”
After spending his early years as a winger, Atkinson has been deployed in a more central role in recent times and he says his versatility is one of his main qualities.
“I’d say my favoured position is more central now. I bring that athletic side to it. I think my days playing on the wing have helped me playing inside because I’m good at carrying the ball and full of energy, so hopefully I can do well wherever I’m playing here.
“For me personally, I want to play, I want to win, win games of football and I’m not going to beat around the bush, I want to get promotion.”
Supporters can login to Stags PlayerHD to view Will Atkinson’s exclusive first interview.
Atkinson stays true to his word to become a Stag
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas
Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans was delighted to see new signing Will Atkinson keep his word and join Mansfield Town over five other chasing clubs, including four from League One on Tuesday. Even as he drove up the M1 to sign, the 28-year-old had calls from other clubs trying to derail the deal at the last minute.
Atkinson previously joined Stags on loan from Hull City in 2008, making 12 appearances, two off the bench, for manager Billy Dearden.
“The older Stags fans will know him as he came here as a fresh-faced 18-year-old kid from Hull,” said Evans.
“He is a different proposition now. He plays a variety of different roles. He can play in either wide position very comfortably though I have to say I have been most impressed with him when he’s played centrally.
Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/atkinson-stays-true-to-his-word-to-become-a-stag-1-8571121
“He’s got fantastic energy levels. He can play as well - which helps. He’s a really good addition.”
Evans has worked long and hard on securing Atkinson’s signature. “I targeted Will after seeing him in League games for Southend back in February and March,” he said.
“Paul Raynor and myself came away thinking there’s not much chance of getting him but we’ll try.
“We have persevered over a number of weeks and it was lovely to get a call from Will saying he had just told the manager at Southend that he was signing for Steve Evans at Mansfield.
“I had to make two or three journeys down south to see not only him but his family and representatives and I am now absolutely buzzing.
“I managed to persuade him his future lies here. He remembers the place as a kid, though it was a long time ago.
“Will has been promoted out of League Two and very successful in getting in and around the play-offs in League One. Of course he was part of that wonderful Bradford side who had the run all the way to the cup final, including magnificent league form as well.
“From that point of view he gets chance to come back north. That was a decision he wanted to make for the right reasons family-wise. And it’s a chance for him to grab a new project like he did when went to Southend and to Bradford.
“He’s been a big part of their success and we are just delighted we’ve been able to accrue his signature considering the quality of clubs in League One who were trying to convince him.”
Evans said other managers tried to snatch Atkinson at the last minute as he drove up.
“I got a call the night before to say he was going to sleep on it, but he was going to sleep thinking of wanting to be a Stag. Thankfully the kid was true to his feelings and very true to his word, despite one or two managers calling him as he came up the M1 to sign.
“I think the quality of the signings has helped him make his mind up in a really positive way. And I love young men that are true to their word.
“When he got here he said he’s had a call from him and a call from this one but told them he’d given his word to Steve Evans he was signing at Mansfield. That’s good to see as we had one change his mind halfway here a few weeks ago.”
Southend wanted Atkinson to stay and had a new deal on the table.
“His representatives have been talking to Southend for the best part of two or three weeks but were not able to get something done,” said Evans.
“At the same time his representatives were taking calls from people like myself and three or four other managers.
“Only one other of them was a club from League Two who have just lost in the play-offs plus three very good League One sides and Southend making it four.”
Will Atkinson: I didn't feel wanted by Southend United
Southend Echo, by Chris Phillips, 01 June 2017
WILL Atkinson has revealed his reasons for leaving Southend United in favour of a switch to Mansfield Town.
The 28-year-old opted to end his four year association with the Shrimpers to team up with the Stags.
And Atkinson told Echosport his mind was made up after Mansfield showed more determination to secure his signature.
“Southend came to me in January and said they wanted me to stay but nothing ever came from that and I had to pester them about getting a deal in the end,” said Atkinson.
“It’s been a really tough decision for me to make but if I’m honest I wasn’t made to feel valued or wanted by Southend.
"It was only when they found out I had another offer that they really spoke to me but Mansfield were desperate for me to sign and that’s what made up my mind.”
Atkinson made 175 appearances during his spell with the Shrimpers and started 38 games last season, the third highest in the Southend squad.
And the midfielder said he would always recall his time at Roots Hall with great fondness.
“I’ve really enjoyed my four years at the club and I have nothing bad to say about my time there,” said Atkinson.
“I’ve made a lot of great friends and we’ve had some great times.
"There have been a lot of ups and downs but the promotion season and winning at Wembley in the way we did obviously sticks out as the best moment.
“But I also enjoyed beating Millwall in the FA Cup in my first season and the win we had over Bradford last season was also quite special.
"It’s always sad to leave, especially like this, because we’ve been like a family at Southend.
"There were a lot of other factors which I won’t go in to but sometimes you need a fresh challenge and that’s exactly what I have now.”
Atkinson is one of 11 signings already made by Mansfield this summer.
But he remains disappointed by comments made by Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin, who claimed Atkinson had agreed to stay with Southend and had not told him he would be leaving.
“I’m not normally one to speak out but I read what the chairman said and it disappointed me,” said Atkinson.
“People who know me would know I’m not like that and I’m not happy with how the club have tried to portray me as the bad guy.
"But I would rather focus on the good times and I’m not bitter about anything at all.
“The manager is someone I have respect for because he’s always been great for me and the fans were good too so I wish everyone all the very best for the future.”
However, Atkinson has now switched his sights to securing the third promotion of his career from League Two.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again,” explained Atkinson.
“Hopefully we will win promotion next year.”
Read more at http://www.echo-news.co.uk/sport/blues/15322037.Atkinson__I_didn_t_feel_wanted_by_Blues/
Brown expresses disappointment after Atkinson snubs new deal to join Mansfield
by Chris Phillips
SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has expressed his disappointment at losing midfielder Will Atkinson to Mansfield Town.
Atkinson turned down a two year deal with the Shrimpers to team up with the Stags.
But Blues boss Brown admitted to being frustrated by the 28-year-old’s decision to drop back down into League Two.
“I’m disappointed Will has decided to leave and I’m disappointed by his lack of ambition as well if I’m honest,” said the Shrimpers chief.
“I’ve worked with Will for four years and we’ve always had a good relationship in that time.
“He always told me he wanted to play higher than League Two but he’s made his decision and life goes on.
“I think being nearer to the north was a factor but we’ll be looking to bring in a replacement.”