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Archived News from March 2004

19th March 2004 17:57

Evening Post

Manager Keith Curle today said he would take the criticism from fans over Stags' recent performances - but demanded his players start performing.

Curle has told his players to get back to basics in order to get results.

The Mansfield boss is under pressure and the dismal display against Bury in midweek was the fifth defeat in seven games for the Stags.

A section of fans were chanting for him to be sacked - and the manager says he is well aware the club has to get back on track tomorrow or risk slipping out of the play-off places.

Curle said: "I have never doubted the commitment of the players but now I want to see the quality that was being shown earlier in the season.

"We have seven home games out of the last 11 and they can get us promotion. We have to turn this place into a fortress.

"I know it is easy for the fans to get straight on the backs of the players. But I am saying get on my back instead. I have to take all the pressure off the players and put it on myself and I do not mind taking stick and criticism, because I want the players to go out and play with smiles on their faces.

"I have broad shoulders, I'll take it."

Curle has told the players to forget the last two displays and get back to playing simple football.

And this week he sat them down to watch a video of August's 5-0 victory against Scunthorpe.

"I have told them a line has been drawn under the last two games and now we have to look forward," he said.

"The Scunthorpe match showed that football is a very simple game.

"The pleasing thing is the same 11 players who played in that match are still in the changing room and all they did to win 5-0 was play simple passes. That is what we have got to do, be prepared to play simple football."

Mansfield have received a major boost as Liam Lawrence, Tony Vaughan, Craig Disley and Neil MacKenzie all return from injury, although Iyseden Christie is out for at least a month after breaking his foot in the 3-0 defeat at Bury.

Curle added: "We know Oxford are not going to give a lot away. We have got to keep the ball away from them with purpose and then find the space to get at them."

STAGS (from): Pilkington, J White, Hassell, Vaughan, Day, Artell, Dimech, Curtis, Williamson, MacKenzie, Corden, Lawrence, Disley, D"Jaffo, Mendes, Larkin.
Ananova: Preview: Mansfield v Oxford

Mansfield will be without Iyseden Christie for the home clash with Oxford.

The striker was forced off during the first half of Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at Bury with a foot injury and will be out for between four to five weeks.

Manager Keith Curle is boosted by the return of winger Liam Lawrence from a groin strain and defender Tony Vaughan from an ankle injury while midfielder Neil MacKenzie also comes back into contention following knee surgery.

Oxford's new loan striker Richard Walker is pressing for a start after coming on as a substitute during the midweek win against Cheltenham.

Steve Basham has been struggling with a hamstring injury, but should keep his place in the side.

Andy Scott is fit after returning to the bench against Cheltenham following a foot injury, but midfielder Paul Wanless is doubtful with a toe problem.
Oxford official site:
From The Dug Out

Atkins looks forward to Field Mill challenge

Ian Atkins is looking forward to the match at Mansfield tomorrow, and says that Wednesday night's win over Cheltenham has got his players in just the right frame of mind:

“The players are bubbling after the win on Wednesday. We had a break but I don't think we were lucky to win because some of the football we played was fantastic and we deserved the win.”

The manager believes that the two men that he has brought in, Barry Quinn and Richard Walker, have a big part to play in the promotion race:

“Quinny went off on Wednesday but it's nothing too serious. But when he went off we did struggle to get hold of the ball a little bit. People always talk about systems but as I keep saying: it's all about players. I think you could see the difference when he went off because he gets hold of the ball and makes you play. Richard Walker, when he came on, only had a short spell but was bright and showed good movement and control and had three shots in ten minutes.

“The two lads have come in, having played at a higher level and shown a little bit of quality and can improve the team's performances. At this stage in the season it's also about putting pressure on the opposition and winning games. Hopefully we've had our blip in terms of results. If you're going to have a run like that then have it with between twenty and ten games to go, not later, because you've got time to recover.

“Huddersfield and Torquay have had fantastic runs and have played exceptionally well, but can they go again and keep it going? That's not easy to do at any level. Just look at Manchester United or Chelsea to see that.

“But the performances we've had have been fine. We got our noses in front against Cheltenham for only the fourth time since Christmas and we've won or drawn every one of those games.

“ In the first half we created plenty of chances, everybody worked their socks off, and now the players are bubbling again. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a few more players available tomorrow as well. Wanny is back, Mark Rawle is back so we have a fully fit squad.”

One other small landmark went almost unnoticed on Wednesday. Having not won in midweek for far too long, United have now gone all season unbeaten at the Kassam Stadium in evening games. Ian feels that the hoodoo has been well and truly lifted:

“It has in the league. I think people at the start of the season thought I was Cuckoo! But I changed it, we tried something different and we've won three and drawn one of the league games that we've played. It has changed round after six years without a midweek win. We did come unstuck in the cup but we don't count them!

“I think it was a good move and I didn't sense an edginess about the games after the first one against Torquay. The only one that resembles last year was York, where we hit the bar and post four or five times, but otherwise it's been a good move. It's another little milestone and mark passed.

“We do have a midweek game left, on Good Friday against Boston, but that's an afternoon game, and with four home games to go we'll do our very best to try and win them all.”


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