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Archived News from December 2021

23rd December 2021 0:09

Nigel Clough is here for the long term says Mansfield Town CEO David Sharpe
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 15th December 2021

Sacking Nigel Clough during Mansfield Town's 14-game run without victory was never considered said Stags CEO David Sharpe as he looked back on an eventful first half of the season.

Former Wigan Athletic chairman Sharpe, who sacked Latics boss Gary Caldwell after two wins in 14 games, said Clough was always seen as a long term appointment and had repaid the club's faith in him by now pushing towards the play-off places after climbing away from the drop zone.

“There was never even a question in our heads about Nigel going,” said Sharpe.

“Fans are entitled to their opinions and they want to see the team winning. But they have to understand the circumstances sometimes.


“You can have the best manager in the world. But when you have got that many players missing and the incidents we were having with injuries and suspensions, it was a struggle to get a result.

“You never want to make a knee-jerk decision and that was never on anybody's agenda.

“When we appointed Nigel we knew it would be a long term plan. Things don't happen overnight.

“We wanted to make progress from where we were when we appointed Nigel and we did.

“We were in a very poor situation last season when we hadn't won a game in 11 or 12 league matches and Nigel came in, steadied the ship, and we started to climb the table to a safe position.

“This season we have made progress again and we are sat in a good position looking upwards.

“As long as we continue to make progress, that's the way a football club should be run and eventually you will reap your rewards.

“But if you start chopping and changing managers all the time, it is definitely not the healthy way to run a club and was never on mine, the chairman or Carolyn's (John and Carolyn Radford) agenda.

“We are all on the same page and have a great relationship - long may that continue.”

On the season so far, he said: “It's been ups and downs really. We started very well as people saw in the first three games. We deserved to have nine points.

“But then things happened from September onwards due to reasons you sometimes can't control yourself with injuries.

“You can control injuries when they are soft tissue injuries. That is something that comes back to training methods and workload.

“But none of them were soft tissue, they were all contact injuries - and some strange ones like James Perch.

“That was a freak accident that doesn't happen very often and he was really unfortunate.

“We had Kellan Gordon with his knee, then another freak incident with Quinny (Stephen Quinn)getting a six game ban. Normally we are used to a one or three game ban but we were surprised that they treated them as separate incidents.

“It was frustrating as he is one of our key players, as is Perchy,

“We had other issues with Covid symptoms and players like Oli Hawkins unable to play.

“There have been loads of unfortunate incidents that have been out of our control and it's been difficult to deal with.”

He continued: “I knew Nigel had his hands tied, so to speak, with the injuries as you need to have the majority of your best players on the pitch.

“If you have eight or nine of those players you are usually ready for the game and can get a result.

“From that opening win against Bristol Rovers I think that in one game in our poor run of form we only had three of the starters from that game on the pitch. That tells you everything.

“Then you are relying on the youngsters to come in.

“The nice time to throw them in is when you are two or three nil up, or a Papa John's game or a game at the end of the season when there's not much riding on it.

“The wrong time to throw them in, and Nigel didn't have a choice with the amount of injuries, is when the team is low on confidence or in a bad run of form. You're asking the young lads to step up and it's tough on them. It was a really difficult time.

“But the chairman, myself and the board were stuck on the same page and saw it through and now we are reaping the rewards for showing what a bit of stability can do. Nigel has more than repaid us with the run we've had.

“Certain games we didn't play well enough and Nigel and the players would admit that. But there have been other games when we have been slightly unlucky.

“Recently the luck seems to have turned our way a bit.

“We had battered Crawley in my opinion but in the 90th minute they hit the crossbar - six weeks before that would have hit the underside of the bar and gone in.

“We also saw out the Carlisle game when six weeks before we might have drawn or lost that game.

“Things are starting to move in the right direction but there is still a long way to go.”

Sharpe has remained level-headed throughout the extremes of the results and intends to remain so.

“It has certainly been more enjoyable here since we went on the winning run,” he smiled.

“But we can't get carried away. Only six weeks ago, people were saying we're going down and everything is wrong at the club.

“Now, six weeks later everything is good again. You can't get too high or too low.

“I try to stick to what I believe in and what Nigel believes in and eventually I believe that will bring success. If it doesn't we will hold our hands up.

“But we have to get the club in a better place from where it was two years ago when we had Graham Coughlan and John Dempster - and that's what we're doing.

“We are building, but it won't happen overnight. I said when we appointed Nigel that he would need four windows in my opinion and he's had two so far.

“Certainly with the style of football we're starting to see, especially at Doncaster second half, you won't see better from a League Two club though maybe Forest Green could just be able to match it.

“That's what we want to have in place long term and for many years to come. We have to have a style of football regardless of who the chief executive, chairman or manager is.

“You recruit for that style moving forward. That's what we will continue to do and hopefully it's putting the building blocks in place for a good sustainable future for the club.”

Sharpe is now ready to conduct the January transfer window business with Clough.

“We will have to wait and see what happens in January,” he said.

“There may be one or two incoming and there may be one or two outgoing, plus a couple of the younger lads may go out on loan while we already have players out on loan at the moment that may have interest in them.

“We will be active, it never is a quiet window, but there is no point adding players for the sake of it.

“You've got to improve what you've got and right now there's not much wrong with the team, especially if we can get all the injured players fit again.

“They will be as key as signing a player to be honest.”

He is also planning carefully for the club's future.

“I normally work off two budget spreadsheets,” said Sharpe.

“I try not to think about the worst case scenario, though I know we were a few weeks ago.

“I am only working towards a 2022/23 league squad and what that looks like as there are players out of contracts and players with options who might trigger an extra year.

“There is a League One audit and one for League Two and a lot of factors to weigh up.

“Looking ahead I already have one for the 2023/24 season too. I would not be doing my job properly if I wasn't planning that far ahead.”


Stags CEO David Sharpe is loving his new life in League Two
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 15th December 2021

After a lifetime of supporting granddad Dave Whelan's Wigan Athletic, Mansfield Town CEO David Sharpe admitted it had been strange to swap clubs but said he was now a committed Stags fan.

“I grew up watching Wigan from the age of five when my granddad bought it,” said Sharpe, who was born in Wigan and became one of the world's youngest chairmen at 23 when taking over from Whelan.

“Reaching the Premier League within 10 years from the old Division Three, which is now League Two, was incredible and I was at every game from being a five-year-old, so it was a great journey.

“But it's now all about Mansfield and that is my prime focus.


“It's hard to have that same feeling for the place and my emotions are now all caught up in our results at Mansfield.

“The first results I look for now are League Two and I hope there are load of draws when we win as that is perfect for us.”

He added: “My best memory at Wigan would be in my first full season after taking over as chairman when we won League One and got promoted to the Championship.

“Beating Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final was another highlight. “Everyone remembers the final when we won it in 2013, but that quarter-final win was a great night.”

Now seven years on from that Wigan appointment, he said: “I have learned a lot in that time, though to be honest I have learned more than anything since I have been at Mansfield.

“When I was at Wigan I was chairman and had a CEO below me.

“And it was a very different club as we were ex-Premier League and had a bigger staff base.

“It is a totally different world being in the Premier League and League Two.

“We had been relegated but the structure was still there with a very large staff.

“I just had to oversee it. I wasn't as active as I am with Mansfield.

“Things are a lot more realistic at our level with wages and staff.

“In the Premier League and Championship it is very bizarre what some staff earn, let along players.”

Sharpe is loving the versatility of his staff at the One Call Stadium.

“I have enjoyed it,” he said. “They are good people here, very good staff around the place albeit not a big staff. But everyone mucks in. I was surprised when I first joined that everyone knows different things of different sides of the club.

“There are random things you would not expect them to know - but they do because they have all mucked in and all had to get their hands dirty. It's great and there is a great chemistry between them all.”

He added: “I am trying to implement a lot of change and build on what has been put in place by the current board and John and Carolyn and the investment they've put in. I want to bring new ideas to the club.

“We had a great time with season tickets in the summer with our highest sales for more than 10 years. We have tried to tidy up the image of the stadium.

“Bishop Street isn't ideal but we've tried to do the best we can with it and it looks neater now with the scoreboard and sponsorship.

“We just want to be proud of the place and there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes and the club is in a good place.

“When things are going well on the pitch, normally things off the pitch go well too.”

Sharpe was hoping for the cash boost of a Premier League big gun in the FA Cup but believes drawing Middlesbrough at home has given a good chance of an upset.

“Especially from the financial point of view, you always want a Manchester United, a Chelsea or an Arsenal to make a few quid,” he said.

“When I was at Wigan we drew Manchester United away in the third round when we were in the Championship and made £1.1 to £1.2 million from that game. We lost 5-0 but it was the best defeat ever.

“But getting a home draw gives us a chance. I think Middlesbrough might make quite a few changes as they are going well in the league and will have their eyes set on trying to get in the play-offs.

“We'd hope to be at full strength and you never know. We've beaten two League Ones sides away from home already and this is a difficult place to come to play.

“It is a tie that I would imagine would be in the top five or 10 likely upsets in the newspapers as there is potential we will give them a good run for their money.”



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