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Archived News from October 2002

24th October 2002 22:07

Watkiss takes on old boss

Stags boss Stuart Watkiss comes up against the man who brought him to Field Mill when he crosses swords with Swindon manager Andy King in Saturday's crunch game at the County Ground (3pm).

King signed Watkiss as a central defender from Walsall when he was in the Field Mill hot seat and Watkiss said: "I am looking forward to seeing Andy again.
"I have a lot of respect for him. I only worked with him for a couple of months before he left the club but I have spoken to him on many occasions since then.
"The game needs characters like Andy and someone with his knowledge of football.
"I am looking foward to the game. We are both in a similiar situation at the wrong end of the table. I don't think there is a lot of money floating about at Swindon and it's no co-incidence that the clubs who are struggling financially are the ones down there."
Watkiss added: "Everyone keeps saying what a big game this is because Swindon are down there as well, but so are all of the remaining 32 games.
"We have got to start getting some points on the table and first and foremost, to get them we have got to start tackling and competing a lot better when we haven't got the ball.
"I thought we had made some progress and got better until this week. It's been one step foward and two steps back and we have let ourselves down.
"The second half against Crewe on Tuesday was much better so I felt a bit for the players when the third went in. We have to accept they have much better players than we do."
Watkiss felt few managers could do much about the position Stags are currently in with their small, inexperienced squad and ever-lengthening injury list.
"I do not want to be seen to be deflecting blame away from myself. But Dario Gradi spoke to me and said we are in exactly the same position that Crewe found themselves in last season in Division One.
"He said that if the players you have got are not strong enough for the division you are in then you are going to struggle.
"It deosn't matter what tactics you use or what formations you put out, 80 per cent of being a successful team is having players good enough to play at that level.
"We will see if we are strong enough when our injury list clears up. But the players we have available now collectively are not good enough to compete at this level."
Goalkeeper Arjan van Heusden, despite a back strain, is almost certain to play his final game in goal for Mansfield at Swindon before his short-term contract ends and Kevin Pilkington returns to face Cardiff City next Tuesday.
Mark Lever and Craig Disley will rejoin the squad after injury and Scott Sellars after a one-game ban.


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