CLOUGH REFLECTS ON WINDOW PLUS HARROGATE PREVIEWS
Stags’ squad has ‘good balance’ - manager
mansfieldtown.net, Wednesday 1st September 2021
Following yesterday’s closure of the transfer window, boss Nigel Clough says the ‘balance is good’ within the Mansfield Town squad.
The Stags made two first team acquisitions on deadline day, bringing in defenders Will Forrester and Richard Nartey, on loan from Stoke City and Burnley, respectively.
With the transfer window now closed, the boss discussed the ‘options’ he has available within the ranks at Mansfield Town.
“I think numbers-wise, it [squad] is good,” he told iFollow Stags. “It’s good where we are. We’d have still liked that experience at the back, but that’s something we’ll have to get through.
“There are one or two free agents out there that we’re looking at for some more experience back there, so we’ll see how that goes in the next week or so.
“I’m happy generally [with the squad]. I’m happy with our goalkeepers, which is a very important department. George Shelvey got 90 minutes under his belt last night [at Harrogate] and Nathan Bishop has been brilliant.
“Defensively, we need a little bit more. [In] midfield, we’re happy. We missed Ryan Stirk when he was unavailable, certainly, but we’re happy with the options in there.
“We know we have four or five forward options as well. The balance is good within the squad.”
Speaking more on his deadline day signings, the boss says his two new players will give the Stags ‘much-needed cover’ in the defensive area.
“They [Forrester and Nartey] will give us some much-needed cover. They’ll also be vying for a starting place. We definitely needed to strengthen in that area.
“He [Nartey] did very well [at Burton Albion], coming out for his first loan from Chelsea. Being at Chelsea as a youngster, you know he’s had a good football upbringing.
“He came out and did really well for us at Burton in League One. He’s ended up at Burnley, where most importantly, he’s trained with the first team.
“Anyone who has been around Burnley’s first team with the way they play and train [has had good experience]. I spoke to Sean Dyche [Burnley manager] about him and they really like him.
“He’s certainly in with a shout [of starting]. We’re going to find out what games he’s played and see how he looks in training today and Friday.
On Forrester, the boss added: “He’s had it [injury] since pre-season, so we’ll be very much guided by Stoke. He’s going to stay there to do his rehab until he’s ready to join in [training] sessions.
“The deal is structured so we don’t start paying until he’s fit. He’s another good, young centre-half, who has played a couple of times for Stoke’s first team. We think he’s got a lot of potential.
“He’s another one who will come in, be around the squad and challenge for a place.”
The boss also reflected on a ‘frustrating’ week on the pitch for his players, with consecutive defeats against Swindon Town and Harrogate Town.
“[It’s been] a bit frustrating [on the pitch this week]. Certainly on Saturday at Swindon, as we controlled large parts of the game.
“We created the vast majority of chances and had seven chances to their none. Then we end up unlucky losing the game.
“We didn’t make the most of our chances and situations certainly, but we’re not being helped. I think we’ve had one or two major decisions go against us in each of the last four games now.
Looking ahead to the weekend’s home match against Harrogate Town, who currently occupy second place in Sky Bet League Two, the boss said: “I think they [Harrogate] will play different personnel than last night.
“They’ll play with that tenacity and intensity that they play with. Having found their footing in the league last year, they have improved and strengthened for a reason. They’re up there for a reason.
“They’re the sort of team you don’t want to go 1-0 down against, because they are difficult to break down and create chances against. We have to be mindful of that.
“That [clean sheet] would be great as we haven’t had one for I don’t know how long. There will be an emphasis on that, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of our attacking play.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Tickets are available now for Saturday’s clash against Harrogate and can be purchased via stagstickets.co.uk.
Mansfield Town miss out on transfer targets but Nigel Clough happy with back-up arrivals
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 1st September 2021
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough was disappointed to miss out of both his main targets before last night's window slammed shut, but delighted to bring in back-ups Richard Nartey and Will Forrester.
Knowing his defensive department needed strengthening, Clough had done much work over recent weeks, but had to change direction at the last minute.
“We just missed out on a couple that we'd been working on,” he said.
“We were quite disappointed we lost out.
“One club changed their mind, so we can't do anything about that.
“We had agreed terms and everything with the player, but the club wouldn't let him go.
“With the second one, we lost out to a League One club who obviously have much bigger resources than us.”
Instead, Nartey has joined on loan from Burnley until the end of the season and fellow defender Forrester on loan from Stoke City until January.
“They will give us some much needed cover first of all and also vie for a starting place,” said Clough.
“Losing James Perch for an indefinite period is a huge blow for us, so we definitely needed to strengthen that area.
“Ideally we would have a liked a little bit more experience there.
“But we had these two lads in the background and we just pressed the button on them when we didn't get the others.”
Mansfield Town may yet strengthen further with free agents
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 1st September 2021
Mansfield Town may yet strengthen further, despite the transfer window closing yesterday, with the possibility of bringing in free agents.
Manager Nigel Clough brought in two back-up defenders late on yesterday after missing out on his two more experienced targets.
But with a large number of players still without a club, Clough is hoping he can still find what he is looking for.
“I think numbers-wise it's good where we are,” he said.
“But there is still that option of free agents. There are one or two out there that we are looking at at the moment for some more experience back there, so we will have to see how that goes in the next week or so.”
Clough said the Covid crisis may have even strengthened the hand of those free agent players.
“The pandemic has left a lot of players without clubs, so there are quite a few. It's just getting one good one among those,” he said.
“As a player you always used to think you had to get fixed up before the window.
“Now you are not in too bad a position if the window shuts and you are still a free agent. You are in a stronger position in some ways.
“People know that they can't sign anyone other than free agents - they can't get loans, they can't sign permanents in.
“So all of a sudden this pool, if anyone gets an injury in the next week or two or, if like us, they are looking for some experience, then that is the only pool you can pick from.”
Clough said there were no solid bids for his own players in the end before the window closed.
“There were possibles but nothing firm in the end,” he said.
“We had one or two early in the window which we turned down as we wanted to keep the squad intact and try to add to it if possible.
“We then heard one or two slight rumours but there was nothing firm.”
He added: “I am happy generally - I think the balance is good.”
New Burnley loan signing Richard Nartey is in the frame for a Mansfield Town debut on Saturday
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas
New loan signing Richard Nartey is in the frame for an immediate Mansfield Town debut on Saturday against visiting Harrogate Town having joined just before Tuesday's transfer deadline.
With James Perch out with concussion and Farrend Rawson struggling with a back problem, Nigel Clough may quickly call on the impressive Burnley centre half.
“He is certainly in with a shout,” said Clough.
“We are just going to find out what games he has played and how many minutes he's played in the last few weeks. We will see how he looks in training today and Friday.”
Clough knows the player well, having had him on loan from parent club Chelsea while managing Burton Albion.
“He did very well, coming out for his first loan from Chelsea,” said Clough.
“Being at Chelsea for 10 years as a youngster you know he's had a good grounding and a good upbringing in terms of football, having been around such a great club.
“He came out and did really well for us at Burton in League One.
“Then he didn't have a club for a while and ended up at Burnley from last November, where he has played some U23 games.
“But most importantly he has trained with their first team, with the way that they play and train.
“I spoke to Sean Dyche about him and he said they really like him and they have been impressed. Most importantly he said that the first team like him.
“When you are a young player coming into that sort of Premier League squad it is very important to impress your team mates.”
However, fellow deadline day loanee Will Forrester from Stoke City will be another couple of weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury.
“He has had it since pre-season so we will very much be guided by Stoke,” said Clough.
“He is going to stay there to do his rehab until he is ready to actually join in sessions.
“He may do the first one or two at Stoke to make sure he is all okay.
“The deal is structured that we don't start paying him until he is fit anyway.
“But he is another good young centre half. He's played a couple of times for Stoke's first team and we think he's got a lot of potential.
“So he is going to come in, be around the squad, and challenge for a place.”
Stags today have Perch, Rawson and Ryan Stirk on the sidelines and Clough said: “There is absolutely no time scale on when Perchy is going to be back. It's just going be down to what the medical team say.
“A head injury is on a different level to a hamstring injury or a groin or anything like that. We have to be ultra-cautious with it.
“With these things we go through every sort of stage we need to in terms of precaution and make sure he's okay.
“Faz Rawson came off with a stiff back at Harrogate, but he was only going to play an hour or so anyway.
“And Ryan Stirk is still isolating with Covid but I think he's back on Friday.
“He has had symptoms but not since Saturday.
“What we've found with the lads that have had symptoms who've had it earlier on is that they do struggle a little bit for the first few days when they come back training. So we will have to see how he feels on Friday.”
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough’s warning ahead of Harrogate Town rematch
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas
Mansfield Town cross swords with Harrogate Town for the second time this week on Saturday with boss Nigel Clough warning how tough they are to break down should his side go behind.
Harrogate made it three wins in a row over Mansfield with Tuesday's 3-1 Papa Johns Trophy victory and ahead of Saturday's revenge mission at the One Call Stadium, he said: “They are the sort of team you don't want to go 1-0 down against as they are difficult to break down and create chances against. So we have to be mindful of that.
“We found that last season when we lost both games 1-0, despite having quite a bit of the ball at times.
“Having said that, our strength is going forward and we have to keep doing that.”
He added: “A clean sheet would be great - we haven't had one for I don't know how long.
“It's not just the goalkeeper and the back four - the whole team get you a clean sheet. There will be an emphasis on that. “But I don't want it to be at the expense of our attacking play.”
Clough hopes a decision or two may go Stags' way after some big ones that have recently cost them dearly.
He said: “It's been a frustrating week - especially at Swindon last Saturday, where we controlled large parts of the game and created the vast majority of the chances.
“We ended up very unlucky losing the game.
“We certainly didn't make the most of our chances and situations, but we are not getting help.
“We have had a major decision or two go against us in each one of the last four games now.”
Both Stags and Harrogate changed most of their sides on Tuesday and both will do the same again on Saturday.
“Whichever personnel they play they will be exactly the same with the same sort of tenacity and intensity they play with,” said Clough.
“Having found their footing in the league last year, their first one in the Football League, they have improved and strengthened their squad and they are up there for reason.
“You saw the difference on Tuesday night. They have been building their squad.
“They made eight changes but still didn't have too many youngsters in. We had seven of the 11 under 22 and that's our squad.
“They had men out there last night which is why it was such a good experience for our young players.”
"WE KNOW NOW WE’VE GOT A GOOD SQUAD WHO ARE ALL COMPETING FOR PLACES" - WEAVER PRE MANSFIELD
The Gaffer evaluating our first five games
It’s been a really bright and positive start. The lads have been energetic and played with a good amount of edge in their game so it’s been a really positive first few weeks.
On the selection difficulties ahead of Saturday
They certainly are tough decisions and it’s not getting any easier as the days go by. I thought the lads all did themselves the world of good on Tuesday and they’ve all staked their claim. It’s not just about Saturday, every game will be treated as horses for courses but we know now we’ve got a good squad who are all competing for places in the starting XI.
On what Jack Diamond will add
Fast, aggressive, go getting. Someone who’s willing to take people on without fear of recrimination of getting tackled, he’ll just get up and get the ball again and commit defenders. He’s excited us before and I’m sure he’ll do it again this season.
He could well be (included in the squad for Saturday). We’ll assess the squad over the next two days but we’ll be making decisions today so we can talk it through with the players involved and those missing out.
On whether he’s happy with the quality and depth of the squad
Yeah definitely. I think we’ve got a nice balance of competition for places without having two large a squad which can become troublesome off the pitch when trying to keep everyone happy.
I think we’re now in a position where we can rotate, preempt a bit of tiredness and look after people. It’s not a case of come what May we have a starting XI and then players bulking up the squad, we’ve got starters throughout the squad and everybody has to feel valued so we will rotate.
On preparing for Mansfield
We’re expecting an entirely different team from Mansfield. I think Nigel Clough made no secret after the game that he wasn’t too concerned with the performance the other night because he made lots of changes.
We’re expecting them to be really up for Saturday that’s for sure but I fully expect us to be just as up for this league encounter and play with edge, pace and energy again and make sure we’re very competitive.
We know what we want to achieve in each game. From the analysis we know we can still tighten up defensively but we expect to shift the ball about quickly but first and foremost nail the fundamentals of what we’re about, which is being a really competitive outfit, winning the first ball, second ball and going from there.