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Archived News from December 2019

15th December 2019 19:08

Boss discusses meeting with players
mansfieldtown.net, 10 Dec 2019

Manager John Dempster has revealed details of a meeting held with his players on Sunday, in which his charges spoke ‘very well’ and ‘honestly’ - something he expects the Stags to show a ‘reaction’ from.

The meeting followed a disappointing 3-0 loss at home to Cheltenham in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking in Tuesday morning’s news conference at The RH Academy, the boss discussed Saturday’s match, Sunday morning’s conversations, and also alluded to ‘changes’ in the January transfer window.

“Watching the [Cheltenham] game back, there should have been a sending off in the game early on,” he told iFollow Stags. “It frustrated me at the time and I’m still feeling annoyed with it, but that’s not why we lost the game 3-0.

“I was really disappointed with the goals we conceded. We spoke about that at length on Sunday morning - I had the players in on Sunday.


“Some of the players spoke very well about our current predicament. We’re moving forward now.

“There was a lot of honesty and some of the senior pro’s spoke very well. I spoke honestly, as I always do, and we’ll see what sort of reaction we get this week in training.

“People are aware that they need to start taking responsibility. There needs to be change. There won’t be major surgery but there will be changes [in January], because we find ourselves in a very difficult predicament at the moment.

“Results haven’t been good enough and performances haven’t been good enough. If we’re going to start achieving our potential, there needs to be some changes.

“Our daily routine will look slightly different and our weekly structure can be tweaked and might look different.

“You’re forever searching [for the winning formula], but the big thing that came out on Sunday, speaking to the players, was that key word of responsibility.”

The manager also spoke about the importance of ‘responsibility’ and ‘respect’ from his players in a ‘difficult time.’

“I don’t believe in criticising players in front of the media,” he added. “The best managers I’ve worked with didn’t do that to me, so I’d expect to be treated with the same respect.

“With that, you want respect back. At times this season, the team’s performances don’t reflect me as a person.

“Some of the things that have gone wrong, I take full responsibility for, but the values that I adhere to and the way I live my life, I expect my team do the same. Sometimes that hasn’t happened this season.

“The danger of being the frontman and taking responsibility for any of the negativity, is that lesser characters can hide behind you.

“I won’t change my personality or my beliefs - what’s important is that the players don’t hide behind me because that would not only be a massive negative, but it would also show a serious lack of character.

“I think they’re going through a difficult time - we all are - but in difficult times that’s when you need to come together and show your worth and be part of a team.”

Previewing the weekend’s fixture, the manager discussed Saturday’s opponents, Crewe: “Crewe are a very good side. David [Artell] has a team of young players that grew up together and you can see when they play, they’ve been together for a number of years.

“Their setup is a very impressive one and they play very good football. They’re up there in the table, and rightly so, because they’ve had some outstanding results.

“It will be a real challenge because, not only are they a good, young side, but they’re playing with confidence.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a selection of the Stags’ squad visited King’s Mill Hospital to hand out presents to poorly children ahead of Christmas.

The boss, speaking ahead of the visit, discussed its importance: “Later this afternoon we’ll go to see children in the hospital who aren’t very well, something that the football club has done since I’ve been here.

“Going as the manager of the football club, it will be great to see the kids. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces.

“Although the children in there aren’t very well, children are very resolute and it’s great to see them smiling when you come through the door.

“As a player, I think it’s a brilliant thing to do. It gives you a reality check - visiting the kids at the hospital makes you grateful for what you’ve got.”

There was also an injury update from the gaffer.

“Hayden White will train on Monday with the group, which is a bonus. Neal Bishop is going through the process having suffered a concussion on Saturday.

“All signs are good so we expect him to be back training with the group on Friday.

“He has a chance [to play on Saturday]. He can’t remember the second-half on Saturday, but he’ll carry on with the process. As long as he carries on with that process, he’ll train on Friday.”


New faces - Mansfield Town boss John Dempster promises changes in transfer window
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Dempster admitted the January transfer window can’t open quickly enough as Stags slipped to 18th in League Two.

Dempster was given a pre-match boost by chairman John Radford last weekend when Radford's programme notes said they would not sack the manager as things stood.

But the players then limped to a tame 3-0 home defeat by Cheltenham Town to leave them six points off the bottom, and five games without a win, and Dempster said: “There needs to be change and January can't come quickly enough.

“It won't be major surgery but there will be changes - and there needs to be as we find ourselves in a very difficult predicament currently.

“Results haven't been good enough. Performances haven't been good enough and if we are going to start achieving our potential there has to be some changes in personnel, formation and tactics - all the different tweaks you can make to find that winning formula.”


Dempster had his players in for a rare Sunday morning session after Saturday's disappointment when a lot of home truths were spoken behind closed doors.

“They should have had a man sent off early on, but that's not why we lost the game 3-0,” said Dempster.

“I'm really disappointed with the goals we conceded - very weak.

“I had the players in training on Sunday morning and we spoke about it at length. There were some home truths and several of the senior players spoke very well about our current predicament.

“It all needs to be kept in-house but there was a lot of honesty. We will see what kind of a reaction we get this week in training. People are aware they need to start taking responsibility.”

He added: “I won't criticise individual players in public, making it personal. That's not my style. With that you want that respect back and, at times this season, the team performances don't reflect me as a person.

“The danger of taking responsibility for any of the negativity and poor performances is that lesser characters can hide behind you. It's important players don't hide behind me or things won't improve. We are all going through a difficult time.”


It’s not been good enough - midfielder
mansfieldtown.net, 10 Dec 2019

Stags’ midfielder Neal Bishop says that he - as a senior player in the Mansfield squad - must improve before anyone else.

The 38-year-old spoke openly and honestly in Tuesday morning’s news conference at The RH Academy.

Bishop says although Mansfield have shown ‘glimpses’ of quality, the overall performance level from the Stags has been ‘nowhere near good enough.’

“I’d be lying if I claimed it’s anywhere near good enough. A lot of players have been given opportunities, and over a period of time, we all haven’t been at the level we expect to be,” he told iFollow Stags.

“Has anyone performed up to the standard you expect? You’ve got to say - ‘no.’ We can’t paper over the cracks, for an extended period of time we’ve shown glimpses of what we’re capable of but that’s all it’s been so far.


“If we don’t accept that, and look at the reasons why it’s happening, we’re not going to move forward.

“We’re not fulfilling our potential as a group or as individuals at the minute. We need to improve quickly or we’re all going to be out of the job. January’s coming, I’m sure the manager’s got his ideas but I’d say no one’s safe. I don’t care what you’ve done in the past, it’s not going to exempt you from what’s going on in the future.

“We have frank discussions, I’d prefer just to speak for myself rather than everyone else. It’s easy to point fingers and blame individuals but that’s not going to get us anywhere. Every one of us has to look at ourselves in the mirror and think about what we can do better.

“It’s been a substandard few months, I don’t think I’ve got into my stride, I’m meant to be one of the senior players - I should be doing better. I should be one of the ones driving it; maybe I can do that more than I have so far this season.”

He then went on to talk about his own campaign and his frustration with minor injuries since the beginning of the campaign.

“For me, it’s been pretty frustrating because I’ve had a few little impact injuries which are sort of unavoidable. I’m at my best when I’m training every day, then playing - because of the injuries, I’ve never really got going this season,” he added.

“It’s not been good enough, not through lack of effort; at all stages in my career, good, bad or indifferent, I’ve always gone out onto the pitch or into every training session giving everything - that’s just the way I am as a person.

“I’m probably, ten, 15 or 20 per cent down on last season’s performances. Physically I don’t feel any different, I look at my stats, I’m still covering the same amount every game. For one reason or another it’s [the quality] just not been there.”

The 38-year-old suffered concussion in Saturday’s loss to Cheltenham Town but is hoping to be fit for this weekend’s trip to Crewe Alexandra.

“I got a whack in the first-half and wanted to play on rather than come off. After the game I was throwing up and didn’t remember much. It was a strange one, probably a delayed concussion. I feel alright now though, hopefully it’s just a knock.

“There’s obviously a protocol to follow, so I haven’t started running again until today. I’m desperate to get back in full training, hopefully that’ll be this week.”


twitter Jake Garner @JakeGarnerRadio

An honest assessment of the season from #Stags midfielder Neal Bishop

“Everyone’s had game time. I don’t think there’s one of us in that dressing room that can put their hand up & say they’ve been at the same standards as last season. That’s how I see it, rightly or wrongly”


Bish worry after bash on the head
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Mansfield Town midfielder Neal Bishop hopes to be fit to face Crewe on Saturday after suffering delayed concussion last weekend.

“I got a whack in the first half. I didn't want to put my hand up and come off,” he said.

“But after the game in the dressing room, next thing I knew I had my head down the toilet throwing up.

“On the way home I didn't really remember much of the game to be honest.

“It was a strange one - probably just delayed concussion. I've never really had anything like it. I felt really groggy.”


Bishop added: “I have been going through the protocol we have to follow this week and I feel fine. I don't remember much of the game - which is probably a good thing.”


Heads could roll in January window admits Bishop
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Mansfield Town veteran Neal Bishop admitted heads could roll in the January transfer window if Stags don't start producing some consistent results.

After five games without a win and sat in 18th in EFL League Two, Bishop said: “It's not a lack of effort from anyone, it's a lack of quality and not fulfilling our potential as a group or individuals.

“We need to improve quickly or we are all going to be out of a job. January is coming and I am sure the manager has got his ideas on that.

“Nobody is safe. It does not matter what you've done in the past.

“At the minute it's a massive failing and we are letting our club and supporters down.

“I'd be lying if I said it was anything near good enough from the group as a whole.”

Bishop added: “A lot of players have been given an opportunity and over a period of time we all have not been near the standards we expect to be.

“We have lads here from last season, including myself, who cannot say they are performing constantly like they did last season.

“We have to improve. We can't paper over the cracks for an extended period of time. We have shown glimpses of what we are capable of, but that's all it's been so far.

“It's been a failing from to to bottom and if we don't accept that and look at the reasons why then we won't move forward.”

The midfielder assessed his own first half of the campaign, saying: “We have frank discussions. I prefer just to speak for me - blaming individuals won't get us anywhere. We have all got to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what we can do better.

“It's been pretty frustrating for me as I've had a lot of little niggly injuries and a stop-start few months. I don't feel I have really got in my stride.

“It's not through lack of effort but it's not been good enough. I am at my best when I am training every day and playing.


“I am still covering the distances and I am as fit as anyone at this club. But no one cares about that if you're not producing it on the football pitch.”


Feature: How Neal Bishop sets the standard as Mansfield Town’s most senior pro
nottstv.com, By Jake Brigstock, Dec 10, 2019

Having turned 38-years-old in August, Mansfield Town’s most senior first-team player admits himself he works harder than ever to keep himself in the shape he wants.

But midfielder Neal Bishop looks as fit as he has done as he sits down for the pre-match press conference ahead of the game at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday (December 14).

The number 6 has been in-and-out the team this season due to a number of small injuries, including an impact injury on his Achilles, a dig in the back, tonsillitis and, most recently, concussion.

Bishop says he ‘doesn’t feel as he’s got into his stride this season’ because of being out, and says he ‘needs to do better, set standards and drive it’ as the most senior pro to help the Stags.

But when asked about how he performs this role at the club, it becomes clear very quickly he’s one of the hardest workers, and very harsh on himself.

“I’ve never been verbal, as in shouting, demanding, being aggressive, that kind of thing,” says Bishop.

“There’s different ways to lead and the way I prefer to do it is being on the training ground, getting your standards right every day, being on time.

“Especially being on time at the gym - which I have to do that little bit extra at my age!

“I was in at 8am this morning, done my session, get to the gym on time in the morning before training and make sure I’m right.

“If you need to do little things after training, using the swimming pool, I will - it’s about setting those high standards.”


While trying to set the example, Bishop enjoying his time as a one of the boys, which is still something that’s important to him.

But he’s clear on when the right time for a joke is and when it’s time to work hard.

“I’ve always been part of the dressing room - part of the banter, messing around, I’ve always enjoyed that, I’ve always been one of the lads,” he says.

“I’ve never set myself apart - I think that’s how you can be most effective, when you’re one of the guys, they respect you.

“But when you go on the training ground, it’s work time. You need to do things right and be at it every day.

“If people look at me and think if they can do it at 38, then I can do it, that’s the attitude I’ve had.

“I’ve always wanted to train every day pre-season. There have been some managers, certainly this season, who’ve asked me if I want to miss a session through this, that and the other but if I’m out there doing it, it takes excuses away from everyone else.

“Macca (Alex MacDonald) and Loags (Conrad Logan) are in early, in the gym, doing their stuff.

“You can’t force others to do the right things, but if you set the standards and they don’t follow, that’s on their heads.”

Bishop is at his 12th club in Mansfield, including coming through the Middlesbrough ranks as a youngster.

He signed at Field Mill in June 2018 after spending four seasons at Scunthorpe United. His career has seen him play in the midfield at York City, Barnet and Notts County among others.

But it’s the 2013/14 season he spent in the Championship at Blackpool he cites as where he learned a lot in the game.

“I’ve learned of course while I was coming up through the ranks - the likes of Barry Ferguson and Ricardo Fuller played at the top level, and I played with them at Blackpool; they were demanding every day but they wouldn’t let standards drop.

“They wouldn’t let anyone get away with being sloppy - even with the young lads.

“If you’re good enough to be training with the first team, then they would treat you like a first team player.

“These are the lads I learned off and there were no ‘gimmes’ to anyone - if the standards weren’t right, they would let you know, and they’d be the ones upholding the standard.

“And that’s the way I try to be now on the training ground in terms of going about things.”

Bishop is planning for life after he finishes his career as a player in football. He wants to stay in the game and is working hard to complete his coaching badges.

But management might not quite be for him - not yet anyway...

“I’m going to finish off my A licence in the summer - I was supposed to finish it this year but the play-offs got in the way of that.

“When I see the abuse managers get these days, I’m not sure if I want to go straight into that frying pan!

“But the coaching side is something that interests me - obviously with the youngsters to start with.

“I go over to Northern Ireland to do my badges - I did my B licence there because here, I think you have to do it on a Thursday afternoon or on a Monday and when you’re my age, it’s a big ask when you’re driving to Burton and not getting your rest.

“Ultimately, I’m still a player contracted at Mansfield Town; I wouldn’t be doing them justice if I’m here, there and everywhere worrying about the next part in my career.”

And Mansfield Town need him more than ever to lead the dressing room out of what manager John Dempster has previously referred to as a ‘dark time at the club’.

At the time of writing, with promotion the aim this season, the Stags sit 18th in League Two on 21 points having played 20 games.

Mansfield have won five games in the league, drawing six and losing nine, which leaves them ten points off the play-offs, but just six points above the relegation spots.

And Stevenage, who sit 23rd in the drop zone on 15 points, have a game in hand on the Stags.

Despite how the table looks, Dempster says in the press conference Mansfield are only looking up the table and the club will not be dragged into a relegation scrap.

Which is why Bishop is putting the team before his own personal development.

“I’ve parked the badges until the summer but the coaching sessions I’ve done so far I’ve really enjoyed,” says Bishop.

“It’s not something I think you should just fall into just because there’s nothing to do - it’s got to be something you’re passionate about because you’re helping people.

“The best coaches I’ve worked with have been intense, passionate and want to help you improve as a player, as a person.

“We’ve got our hands full this season but, come the summer, it’s something I’ll be looking more into.

“I’ve got books at home on sessions and ideas which is something I was advised to do and have taken on board as you’ve got plenty of reference points.”

It seems Neal Bishop’s career in football has a long way to go, even when the time comes to hang up his boots as a player.


Artell: "Mansfield Are A Dangerous Opponent"

David Artell has described Mansfield Town as a dangerous opponent this weekend. The Stags, who lost out in the play-off semi-final last season are currently 18th in the table but Artell is wary of their threat going forward, especially with our former forward Nicky Maynard at the club.

Artell told the club’s official website: “Mansfield are a dangerous opponent. They finished fourth last season and lost in the play-off semi-final. They haven’t changed their squad all that much except bringing in one of the leading scorers in the league last year in Nicky (Maynard). They have good players and they would be the first to admit that they should be doing better.

“They can be a real dangerous team with the players they have but they are not doing as well as expected.

“The board made a change right after the play-offs and John (Dempster) is still finding his feet. They do not become a good team over night and on the flipside they do not become a bad team overnight either.

“We have to be wary of them and we cannot show any sentiment. We have to go out there and do the business.”



I asked Mansfield supporter Sam Binch for her thoughts going into the game.

How would you describe your season so far?

A disaster. With pretty much the same squad that missed out on automatic promotion on the final day last season, we were expecting another strong campaign challenging at the top of the table. John Dempster has fallen way below those expectations and is very lucky to still be in a job.

Which position is the one that you should improve the most from the squad you currently have?

Take your pick! Midfield is the problem area, particularly centrally. We currently have the ageing Bishop, the energetic but unimaginative MacDonald, the hot and cold Mellis, the too often wasted in defence Shaugnessy and the battler Tomlinson. We need midfield goalscorers and a general.

What do you think the team will be for the game?

Preston Pearce Sweeney
Hamilton MacDonald Shaugnessy Mellis Benning
Maynard Rose

How would you set-up to nullify your team?

Keep Mellis shackled and close down Maynard in and around the box. Let the central defenders have the ball as much as possible, they’ll give it back to you. Put two defenders on CJ and keep him on his right foot.

Who is the danger man for this game?

Nicky Maynard. He’s largely fed on scraps but has been a little wasteful of late. He’s still the best hope of creating something out of nothing.

What do you think is a realistic aim for Mansfield this season?

Now, a top-half finish is the best we can hope for I think. We have a top three budget and but it has been completely wasted by John Dempster in the performances his team have churned out. We are the second-worst home side in the league, yet the powers that be still have not pulled the trigger.



Latest | December 2019