DEMPSTER PREVIEWS MORECAMBE / NO MELLIS APPEAL
John Radford, facebook, Thursday 08 August 2019
I’ve enjoyed a brilliant and productive meeting with our manager this afternoon (in Portugal).
We’re pleased with our recruitment during the close/pre-season.
He’ll have my full backing to strengthen further also, if necessary, as part of our ambitions of success this season.
carolyn_radford, instagram, Thursday 08 August 2019
Delighted to have spent a short time with our new manager this afternoon reaffirming our goals and strategy as we break into the new campaign!
First home game will be ‘very proud moment’ - manager
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 06 August 2019
Stags’ boss John Dempster says he will feel ‘immense pride’ to take charge of his first home league game this weekend, against Morecambe at One Call Stadium.
The manager took charge of his first competitive fixture away to Newport on Saturday, a thrilling 2-2 draw which included a two-goal comeback from Mansfield, two penalties and a red card.
Looking forward to this weekend’s game, the boss says it will be a ‘very proud moment’ to stand in the home dugout at One Call Stadium for a league fixture.
“I knew it [first game] was going to be a rollercoaster,” he said. “I just didn’t expect there to be that many ups and downs!
“I enjoyed the ride, in particular the second-half, when I thought the boys were outstanding.
“Although it did end with a positive, picking up a point away from home, on reflection we can do better. If we can improve, I’m sure we can pick up plenty more points.
“Before and after the game [I went over to the supporters]. I think it’s important that you show your respect and your appreciation for supporters that have always supported me and the team loyally as well.
“I was absolutely delighted that they had something to sing about on Saturday. The support they showed throughout the game was vital and it will be for the remainder of the season.
“[I’ll feel] immense pride [on Saturday]. I’m looking forward to it, as it’ll be a real battle.
“It’s a massive achievement for any manager to manage his football club and I’m no different.
“It’ll be a very proud moment for me, but I know I have a job to do and the team have a job to do. We’ll be trying to get all three points on Saturday.
“We certainly want to be attacking at home and take the game to the opposition, but we’ll also be aware of opponents’ strengths as well.”
The boss says that he is expecting Morecambe to bring a ‘real challenge’ to his first home match.
“What they [Morecambe] do well is react to adversity,” he added. “When they don’t have a good performance, they show real character and react well.
“Jim [Bentley] has done an outstanding job at Morecambe and we know what’s coming.
“[Morecambe have] a good team spirit. He [Jim Bentley] knows this level well and he’s very good with set plays and tactics.
“It’s going to be a real challenge for our team, but I’m confident we can come out on top.”
One player John Dempster will be without on Saturday is midfielder Jacob Mellis, after the manager revealed that the Stags will not be appealing the red card he received in South Wales.
“It was a difficult one to decide. After consulting with the officials after the game on Saturday and having spoke to officials externally, we’re not going to be appealing [Mellis’ red card].
“Initially, the referee said Jacob had stamped on the Newport player, which I knew wasn’t the case.
“But after speaking to the officials and the assistants, they made it clear they thought Jacob had put his knees into the Newport player’s back.
“Looking at the video - it’s soft - but Jacob’s knees did go into his back. I don’t think an appeal would be successful.
“He’ll be taking that one on the chin. We’ve got games coming thick and fast, so he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
“[I’ll consider] current form and form in training [when deciding who will replace Mellis]. These are all factors we’ll take into consideration when picking the squad for Saturday’s game.”
The manager also gave an update on Stags’ injured list.
“CJ Hamilton got a real whack [against Newport], but it was just the impact. He’s had tests over the weekend and on Monday, which have been positive. He’ll be okay and will train this week.
“We also had good news on Hayden White, who has come through some running and will be training this week as well.
“We expect Will Tomlinson to be maybe training on Friday, if he comes through what’s ahead of him in the next couple of days.
“Craig Davies has just started running as well, which was a real positive. We have to be careful, but to have him out for the first time doing a really light run was really positive.
“He had a really light run, so it’s still the early stages [of recovery]. It’ll still be a slow process, but the fact that we can move onto the next stage is really positive.
“He [Bobby Olejnik] is doing well. He was out training yesterday and is actually diving now within his training.
“His attitude towards it [recovery] has been immaculate and I’m really pleased to see him bouncing around on the grass. He’s desperate to come back.
“It’s brilliant to see him out on the grass. We haven’t got an exact [return] date, but it’s a real positive.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
To buy tickets for this Saturday’s opening home match of the season against Morecambe (3pm) head to http://www.stagstickets.co.uk.
Mansfield Town will not appeal against Jacob Mellis red card
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 06 August 2019
Mansfield Town will be without midfield ace Jacob Mellis for three games after electing to not appeal against his red card in Saturday’s thrilling 2-2 opener at Newport County.
Mellis was dismissed for landing with his knees into the back of the fallen Joss Labadie and boss John Dempster said: “It was a difficult one to decide.
“But, after consulting with the officials after the game on Saturday, and having spoken to some officials externally from the incident, we are not going to be appealing.
“Initially the referee said that Jacob had stamped on the Newport player which I knew wasn’t the case, having watched it in live play.
“But after speaking to the officials, they made it clear that they thought that Jacob had put his knees into the Newport player’s back.”
Dempster felt the red card was a soft one and influenced by the reaction of Labadie and his team mates, but said he has enough quality in the squad to get over this first ‘bump in the road’.
“Joss Labadie played really well on Saturday, but the reaction from him and Newport players probably made the officials think it was worse than it was,” said Dempster.
“But I don’t want to go too much into that.
“Looking at the video, it is soft. But Jacob’s knees did go into his back and I don’t think our appeal would be successful.
“We do have games coming thick and fast, so Jacob will be back sooner than later.
“It’s just another bump in the road for us. It’s important we move on quickly from it.”
Dempster said he expected strong competition for the vacant shirt this week.
“We’ve got a strong squad,” he said. “We have strength in depth and it’s up to those players to step up now, come in and do the business.
“You look at the players who did come off the bench on Saturday and they were raring to go and made a really positive impact - that’s what we’re looking for.
“Who comes in will be down to current form, form in training, and opposition.
“These are all factors we will take into consideration when picking the 11 and the squad for Saturday’s game against Morecambe, which we know is going to be a really tough one.”
Hayden White has outside chance of facing Morecambe for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town defender Hayden White has an outside chance of facing Morecambe on Saturday after shaking off his hamstring strain.
And there was also positive news on CJ Hamilton, who limped off at Newport last weekend.
“We have had good news on Hayden White,” said boss John Dempster.
“He has come through some more physical training and he will be back in training this week.
“We will see how Hayden goes over the next couple of days. We certainly don’t want to rush him back to pick up another injury just because we are desperate to have him back.
“He is a vital member of the squad and a vital character to have around. But it’s important that we’ve got him for the long term rather than rush him back.
“The weekend might come a little bit too soon for him.
“But if he is passed fit by the medical team he is another player that could feature.”
Hamilton is also expected to be fine to face Morecambe.
“He got a real whack. But it was impact and it’s good news,” said Dempster.
“He came off as he didn’t feel like he could give us 100 per cent for the remainder of the game at Newport.
“He was assessed over the weekend and on Monday and it’s positive. He has heavy bruising and it’s still a little bit sore, but he will be okay to train this week, so CJ is good to go.
“We also expect Will Tomlinson to be back training maybe on Friday if he comes through what’s ahead of him over the next couple of days.
“I am sure there will be a few other bruises as there always is after a ding-dong battle like we had at Newport. But everyone else is in training and fighting for a place against Morecambe.”
Delight as injured Mansfield Town keeper Bobby Olejnik moves onto next stage of recovery
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik has taken his next step to a return this week as he began diving for the ball on the pitch.
Olejnik suffered a serious ACL knee injury last December but manager John Dempster said: “Bobby is doing really well. He is actually diving now within his training, so he has moved to the next stage of his rehab.
“His attitude towards it has been immaculate and I am really pleased to see Bobby not only bouncing around on the grass but bouncing around in and around the changing room and canteen as well as he is desperate to come back.
“He is going to be another key member of the squad.”
September was a month mooted as a possible return for him, but Dempster said nothing was set in stone.
“We have not pencilled in a date for him to play a game yet,” he said.
“But it’s just been brilliant to see him out on the grass doing a bit of handling a week or two ago and now go onto the next stage where it’s actually getting a bit more physical. He is happy with it.”
Will Jacob Mellis suspension give chance for Otis Khan to shine for Mansfield Town?
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
A three-match ban for midfielder Jacob Mellis could be just the opening that lets Otis Khan back into the Mansfield Town team.
Khan is desperate to prove a point after failing to regain a regular place following injury last season and, despite an impressive pre-season, was only on the bench in the opener at Newport, though came on to star in the second half.
Boss John Dempster was non-committal as to who will replace Mellis after his sending-off at Newport last weekend, but said: “I think you will definitely see Otis feature on Saturday.
“Whether he starts or comes off the bench again remains to be seen.
“He has done brilliantly throughout pre-season and come back with a real drive and motivation.
“Otis has performed to a high level. He didn’t think feel like he hit the levels last season consistently enough and I love his honesty.
“He is another cracking character to have in and around the place.
“He is someone who is going to play a vital part in this campaign.
Good home record vital says Mansfield Town boss as Stags prepare for One Call Stadium opener
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Manager John Dempster stressed the importance of a good home record this season ahead of his side’s opening One Call Stadium fixture against Morecambe on Saturday.
“A good home record will be massive,” he said.
“We have had that over the last couple of seasons when we’ve been very strong at home.
“We need to be strong throughout this season and we’re hoping to pick up more points away from home. If we can do that we will have a successful season.
“We certainly want to be attacking at home and take the game to the opposition. We will be setting up to get all three points.
“We will have a good look at the video of Morecambe’s game against Grimsby and come up with a game plan moving forward this week.”
He added: “I think there were times last season when teams came here and sat in, probably being happy with a point from the One Call Stadium.
“If that is the case - and I am not saying that’s what Morecambe are going to do - we have got the players who can unpick a lock.
“We have goalscorers in the squad and we have people who can make goals.
“We want to be taking the game to the opposition while being aware of their strengths as well if they are just going to sit in and counter us.”
Jim Bentley’s Morecambe have a physical reputation and were beaten 2-0 at home in their opener by Grimsby last weekend.
“There will be physicality, but they have got some good technical players,” said Dempster.
“They didn’t get off to the start they would have wished for and so will be looking to come and get their first points on the table.
“I think Jim will be disappointed by the result on Saturday. But looking at the highlights of the game they were a little bit unfortunate as well. A couple of bits went against them.
“What they do well is react to adversity either when they don’t pick or points or they have a disappointing performance. They show real character and react in the right way.
“That’s why they’ve had the success they’ve had over a number of years right now.
“Jim has done an outstanding job at Morecambe. We know what’s coming. It’s going to be difficult, but we will be looking to get three points on the board rather than the one we got on Saturday.
“He has good team spirit. He knows the level, having been at it for the number of years he has. And he is a wily old fox as well at things like set plays and tactics.
“I know Jim well and he will have had us watched several times.
“It will be a real challenge for our team. But I am confident we can come out on top.
“Jim will be looking for a big reaction and it’s important we are ready for that.
“We’d like to get some more points on the table and so would Morecambe, so I expect a real battle.
Morecambe lost their season opener 2-0 when two second half goals gave Grimsby victory at the Globe Arena.
Bentley handed out four debuts to newcomers Adam Buxton, John O’Sullivan, Lewis Alessandra and Shaun Miller.
But, in a game of few chances, Grimsby took the spoils with two second half goals through Elliott Whitehouse and an injury time breakaway strike into an empty net from Max Wright with keeper Barry Roache stranded upfield helping look for an equaliser.
Rookie boss John Dempster full of pride to manage Mansfield Town at home for the first time on Saturday
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Rookie Mansfield Town manager John Dempster has spoken of the pride he will feel on Saturday when he walks out in front of the One Call Stadium fans for the first time as Stags play the first of two home games with Morecambe in four days.
Dempster enjoyed his debut game as a Football League manager in last weekend’s eventful 2-2 draw at Newport County and now can’t wait for his first home outing.
“I will feel immense pride. I am looking forward to it,” he smiled.
“It is a massive achievement for any person to manage this football club and I am no different.
“It will be a very proud moment for me. But I have got a job to do and the team have a job to do.
“I know it’s going to be a real battle with Jim Bentley bringing his side here. But we will be trying to win all three points on Saturday.”
He added: “I am going enjoy it. I said when I first took the job it was important that I enjoy the experience.
“I get the pressure and I understand there are going to be stressful times and sleepless nights.
“But I will certainly enjoy walking out in front of the home crowd for the first time, though I won’t get too far away from the fact we have a job to do. That will be the message to the players too.”
Dempster went over to applaud the fans at Newport where Mansfield battled back from 2-0 down to get a point, even missing a penalty and having Jacob Mellis sent off.
“Before and after the game I will always acknowledge the fans, win lose or draw or whatever the performance is,” said Dempster.
“I think it’s important you show your respect and appreciation for a group of supporters that have always been good to me personally. They have always supported the team loyally as well.
“I was absolutely delighted for them to have something to sing about on Saturday.
“They probably felt like me after going 2-0 down. But the support they showed throughout the game was vital to the players and it will be for the remainder of the season.”
On the 90 thrilling minutes, he said: “I knew it was going to be a rollercoaster, though I didn’t realise there would that many ups and downs if I am being honest.
“But I enjoyed the ride, in particular the second half. I thought the boys were outstanding and, if we had capitalised on that penalty, I think we’d have gone on and won the game.
“We had real momentum. We had rocked Newport and the boys were full of confidence.
“I was dancing around in that dug-out like nobody’s business.
“I really enjoyed it. It was great to see a positive reaction from the players against adversity when we were 2-0 down.
“The players that came off the bench made a real impact and not only did we show real character, we showed a real togetherness as a team which is great to see in this early part of the season.
“I am sure Saturday’s experience will bode well for the future.”
He added: “Watching the game back, we can be better - especially the first half.
“A couple of times, out of possession, as a team we could have been closing the ball quicker and springing back rather than getting back in our own time.
“Although it ended up with a positive, picking up a point away from home, we can do better. If we can improve I am sure we’ll pick up many more points.”
After Saturday’s home League Two clash with Morecambe, the Shrimps return to the One Call Stadium on Tuesday night for a Carabao Cup first round tie.
Opening day goal is boost for Danny Rose after Mansfield Town season of misery
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Danny Rose’s first goal since October in Saturday’s opener at Newport on Saturday was a huge lift to the striker after a season to forget.
“It’s good to see him enjoying his football,” said manager John Dempster.
“Newport are a physical side and the way Danny put himself about was great to see and I was absolutely delighted to see him pop up with a goal.
“I think you could see by his reaction that it meant the world to him.
“From day one in pre-season Danny has had a smile on his face.
“That’s what you want to see players doing. You want them to be a positive influence around the place. You want them to help each other. He has certainly done that with his team mates and the younger lads in and around the squad.”
Craig Davies back running, but Mansfield Town taking it slowly with striker’s return
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town striker Craig Davies has moved onto the next stage of his rehab - but it is still unlikely he will return before Christmas.
Davies has suffered a series of ankle problems and setbacks since early last season.
But boss John Dempster said this week: “Craig Davies has just started running, which is a real positive.
“We have to be careful with him, but to have him out for the first time actually doing a really light run is good news.
“Craig came to the medical team and said he felt there was less pain in the ankle that had been giving him problems.
“So they got him out and he had a good run. It’s still the early stages but this was the next staged we needed to move onto.
“It is still going to be a slow process. But the fact that it’s moved on to the next stage is a real positive.”
Changes expected to Mansfield Town side for Morecambe rematch on Tuesday
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town boss John Dempster said there will be changes for the second of two home games with Morecambe in four days when the Shrimps return for Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup first round tie.
Dempster must first pick an XI to take on Morecame in the opening Sky Bet League Two game of the campaign at the One Call Stadium on Saturday but looking ahead to Tuesday said: “There will certainly be some rotation of the squad.
“We have got some players we’d like to see in a 90-minute cup game and players we want to get some minutes into their tank.
“We also have young players knocking on the door as well.
“I think the team will look different from Saturday to Tuesday, but we will be looking for the same result.”
Calm management style on debut of new Mansfield Town boss John Dempster impresses his players
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town’s players had their first proper taste of rookie boss John Dempster’s management style on the opening day at Newport County and were impressed.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, some players may have expected a ‘hairdryer’ verbal assault.
But, on his Football League managerial debut, Dempster was calm, collected and precise, making his points and changing personnel and formation, which paid off with a 2-2 draw in a game they could easily have ended up winning.
“With my own performance and that of the lads I was braced for a rollocking,” said veteran midfielder Neal Bisop.
“But he was quite considered and I think he found the right tone with the boys.
“It would have been easy to come in and start throwing stuff around as we were way below par.
“But as a group of players we were aware of that before the manager even walked in and we’d had words between ourselves.
“Some harsh words were probably said. But we are an honest group and we knew that wasn’t good enough.
“Then the manager came in and set up a game plan for the second half which worked to a tee and I am sure we could have gone on to win it.
“We’ve all been together over a year now so we are quite comfortable to tell each other a few home truths.”
Bishop continued: “We spoke in the dressing room and the gaffer emphasised the next goal was crucial. It probably wins them the game but, if we get it and get it early, we’re right back in this game - and so it proved.
“They say you’re at your weakest when you’ve just conceded a goal and we scored our second goal straight away. There was no doubt in my mind then that we were going on to win that game.
“Circumstances unfortunately denied us that opportunity. But if you’d offered us a point at half-time we’d have probably taken it.”
Dempster said: “I think it’s important you compose yourself at half-time as a staff and communicate with one another to make sure the messages are consistent when you go in there.
“When I walked in at half-time with Lee Glover it was good to see the players discussing things.
“It wasn’t all guns blazing and people blaming each other. It was more what can we do better?
“We’ve got ourselves in a bit of a pickle. How can we get out of it?
“Together with the players and staff we put a game plan together and it was executed brilliantly to the point where we nearly went into the lead.
“I think if we had done we’d have held on. But it was typical football.
“It always throws up some interesting things and within five or 10 minutes we missed a penalty, had a man sent off and had our backs against the wall.
“The players reacted well. We rode our luck at times near the end to hold on to that point but I think it was deserved.”
We want to continue good home form - Bishop
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 06 August 2019
Midfielder Neal Bishop has targeted another strong home record this season, starting with Stags’ first league match at One Call Stadium this Saturday against Morecambe.
Mansfield lost just four league matches at home last term, and the 37-year-old says he wants to ‘continue’ those impressive numbers into the 2019-20 campaign.
The former Scunthorpe United man also laid out his ambitions for the season, while looking ahead to Saturday’s match against the Shrimps.
“They [Morecambe] are a team that keep defying the odds,” he said. “Massive credit to their manager [Jim Bentley] because he’s very astute.
“We’re not going to expect them to come to our place and roll over. They’ll have a game plan, have got good players and will carry a threat.
“The manager sets them up well and they’ll play to their strengths. They all battle and know that the team comes first.
“It’s at home, so the emphasis is on us to go out there and play our game. We’ll look to be on the front foot and win the game from minute one.
“I think you’ve seen on Saturday [away at Newport] that they [management] are very tactically aware and can change games during it.
“But ultimately, it’s up to the players. The manager can set us up in any way they want, it’s up to us as players.
“We had a great home record last season and we want to continue that. There’ll be no better way to start at home on Saturday than with a clean sheet and three points.
“My targets are the same as last season - it just has to be promotion. My individual targets come second to the team’s goals.”
Reflecting on Mansfield’s pulsating season opener against Newport County - a game that he says had ‘everything’ - Bishop credited the management’s input at half-time for Stags’ remarkable two-minute comeback.
“It [Newport game] probably had everything for the neutral,” he added. “In the first 45 minutes we were way off it by our standards and we know that.
“The management tweaked things at half-time and it looked like we were going to win it. I think we would’ve done if we had 11 men on the pitch.
“I think he [John Dempster] found the right tone with the boys [at half-time]. It would have been easy to come in and start throwing stuff around because we were way below par.
“But before the manager even walked in, we were aware of that. We had words between ourselves.
“If you look at it, it’s a point better off than we got last season down there, so that’s a positive to take.
“The sending off and the penalty miss are two massive things in their favour, but we’re not blaming anyone because we win and lose as a squad.
“We knew what we had to do with ten men and it was a great effort from us. We were more than worth the point in the end.
“We spoke in the dressing room and the gaffer [John Dempster] emphasised that the next goal was crucial, and so it proved.
“It’s a point away from home in a place where we got beat last season. We’ll take the positives and look to bounce back with three points on Saturday.”
Stags’ No.6 also says that the squad must use the ‘disappointment’ of last season to ‘drive’ and ‘fuel’ themselves this term.
“It was gut-wrenching last season and that pain is going to be there until we put it right. I think the only way to exercise that disappointment is to put it right.
“You have to use that [last season] as fuel and you have to remember that pain and how bad it felt.
“You have to turn that into your drive, your fuel and your energy to make sure you never feel like that again.
“It was probably a career low at the MK Dons game, watching them celebrate. We can put that right and as a group we never want to feel like that again. That has to be our motivation.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Neal’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
You can purchase tickets for this weekend’s home clash against Morecambe (3pm) by heading to stagstickets.co.uk.
Lack of egos keeps Morecambe in the Football League believes Mansfield Town ace Neal Bishop
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town midfielder Neal Bishop believes the honesty and lack of egos in Morecambe’s squad is why the Shrimps keep surviving in League Two.
Jim Bentley’s side, who visit the One Call Stadium on Saturday, continue to defy the odds every season, despite being tipped for relegation, and Bishop said: “Morecambe are a team that keep defying the odds.
“For the last god-knows how many seasons they have been tipped to go down and struggle and they always finish up in that mid-table area on one of the tightest budgets in the whole of the Football League.
“That’s massive credit to their manager. He is very astute. I’ve played against him as a player and I like him as a bloke. He’s a great bloke and doing a good job there.
“So we’re not expecting anyone to come to our place and roll over.
“They will have a game plan, they have good players and they will carry a threat.
“We need to take the Newport performance and move it on a couple of levels.”
He continued: “He sets his side up really well and they play to their strengths.
“They have got workers and they’ve got a team full of people with no real egos. They all battle and know the team comes first.
“Morecambe have a way of playing and stick to it. They’re really hard to play against.
“It’s at home so the emphasis is on us to go out there, play our game and be on the front foot from minute one.
“How we do it will be for the manager and his team to come up with this week.
“Whatever he comes up with we will do our best to go out there and implement. You saw on Saturday they are very tactically aware of what’s needed and they can change games during them as they did at half-time.
“But it’s still down to the players. The manager can set us up in any way they want, it’s up to us.
“The good thing is they are coming to us. We’ve not got to do the travelling.
“I’m not sure if we will change the team on Tuesday but we’ve got a good squad here and people pushing for a starting jersey.
“We know if we’re not on it we’re going to be replaced.
“We all want to play every game and, with two back to back games against Morecambe I am sure all the lads will be pushing this week to try to get a jersey.”
Bishop said the onus will be on Mansfield as the home side to break down the visitors.
“We know what they are all about,” he said. “With all due respect to them they are the away team and they are probably looking at us as one of the bigger clubs in the league and think a point would be a good result.
“We need to make things happen and we have the players in our ranks to do that. But we need to do it for 90 minutes, not 45 like at Newport last weekend.
“We had a great home record last season and we want to continue that. And ‘the Chief’ (skipper Krystian Pearce) spoke about 25 clean sheets and we want to get one or two of those on the board as soon as possible. There’s no better place than at home on Saturday.
“It’s good to have high standards. He’s the skipper and he’s driving it. We are with him 100 per cent. My own targets are the same as last season. It’s got to be promotion.”
Neal Bishop gets Chad Readers’ Trophy at last but now wants promotion medal with Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Midfield warhorse Neal Bishop was finally presented with his overdue Chad Readers’ Stags Player of the Year trophy for 2018/19 this week.
Bishop was a clear winner of the award, but the usual pre-game presentations were cancelled last season with so much at stake and he has been hard to pin down in the summer.
Bishop thanked fans for voting for him but admitted it would feel better if he’d had a promotion medal too.
“I can’t lie - individual rewards would have meant a hell of a lot more if we’d have got promoted,” he said.
“But I massively appreciate anyone who voted for me.
“I would not have voted for me as my job is fairly easy in the grand scheme of things.
“The lads who are the back and the lads who make the difference at the top of the pitch, they have the hardest job in football and that’s why they get the big money - especially the centre forwards.
“Last season is now gone. It doesn’t count for anything now and I have go to go out there and prove that I deserve to play every week now.”
Bishop added: “My own targets are the same as last season. It’s got to be promotion.
“It was gut-wrenching the way we missed out last season and that pain is going to be there until we put it right. There’s no better time than this season, especially with time running out in terms of seasons I’ve got left.
“We are massively aware of what’s expected this season. I think last season’s disappointment has made us refocus to deliver it this season.
“Not just missing out but the way it happened was more than just a slap in the face.
“People may say move on but I don’t really want to. You want to forget it but you can’t. The hurt we felt coming off the pitch at MK Dons.
“Then I missed the game against Newport at our place.
“That sort of hurt doesn’t just go away overnight. The only way to exorcise it is to put it right and that’s promotion. The season still hurts you.”
Bishop said the summer signings added to a settled squad gave cause for hope.
“We have the majority of the team from last season still and we’ve added real quality. There’s no reason why we can’t go one better,” he said.
“You mustn’t dwell on what happened - instead you have to use it as fuel. You need to remember that pain and how it felt at the end of last season to add to your energy and never want to feel like that again.
“It was probably my career low at end of the MK Dons game. Watching them celebrate was like a double slap in the face.
“It’s football and it happens. As a group we never want to feel like that again and that has got to be one of our motivations this season.”
twitter @JakeGarnerRadio (BBC Radio Nottm)
Spoke to Neal Bishop ahead of #Stags first home game of the season vs Morecambe
“It often takes me a few games into the season to feel really up to speed. But I didn’t miss a day of pre-season and hopefully I can have another season like the last...but with a different ending”
BOSS SPEAKS AHEAD OF MANSFIELD FIXTURE
BOSS Jim Bentley says his side are expecting a tough game when they travel to Mansfield on Saturday.
The Shrimps are looking to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat against Grimsby as they face their first away game of the season against a side many have already tipped for promotion.
Bentley said: “Mansfield are one of the favourites for promotion this year after doing well last season.
“They have recruited well in the summer and invested well over the past few years.
“When we met them late in the season I’d go as far as to say that on that day they were the best side we came up against with the likes of Tyler Walker and CJ Hamilton upfront and the have got quality all over the pitch.
“They have lost one or two players over the summer but they have paid a couple of fees and brought a couple of good players in. We know all about Andy Cook and Otis Khan is getting back to fitness now and they still have the quality from last year so it is going to be a tough game.
“It’s a chance for us to bounce back. The odds are stacked against us but we are used to that. We always go and give it our all and Saturday will be no different. It’s their first home game of the season so the atmosphere will be good but we will go there and work hard and look to win the game.’’