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Archived News from February 2020

24th February 2020 18:32

We want more days like Saturday - assistant
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 18 Feb 2020

Assistant boss Joe Dunne says that the Stags’ management team will continue to ‘push standards’ after a ‘great win’ at home to Newport County AFC on Saturday.

Frontman Danny Rose scored the game’s only goal in treacherous conditions at One Call Stadium to give the amber and blue an important three points.

Mansfield’s assistant manager says that the key is to now ‘remain committed’ after the weekend’s victory.

“The effort and commitment from the team [against Newport] was exceptional,” he told iFollow Stags. “The courage at the end of the game to see out the result in difficult conditions, it was a great win.

“We’re not going to get carried away - the gaffer [Graham Coughlan] expects this on a regular basis. They key thing is we approach training this week with the same mentality.

“We want to push our standards and remain committed - we want to keep the motivation high to try and get more wins.


“I think any kind of result, especially in the manner that we did it, helps everyone. It helps confidence and we made one or two changes on the day, which helps with competition for places.

“Overall, it was a good day, but it was just one day. We’d like some more.”

The 46-year-old also spoke of manager Graham Coughlan’s approach to leading training sessions - something that the boss is ‘passionate’ about.

“The lads are settling down into the system of choice that we’re playing. We’re seeing in games the ability of players to carry out our messages.

“We’re seeing the team digging in and fitness levels rising. We saw out the [Newport] game when it was in that stoppage time area.

“We’re making small improvements, but improvements that will hopefully add up to making us much better.

“We’ll continue to work on some ideas that we have going forward - we’re already beginning the work on Cheltenham.

“We have to maintain fitness levels. The manager [Graham Coughlan] is in the gym with them continuing those intensive sessions to keep the players progressing.

“It’s something that he loves and is passionate about - that’s what the gaffer is, he wants to be amongst it and wants to lead from the front. That’s the type of guy he is. That’s the enthusiasm he brings, to train hard.”

Looking ahead to the Stags’ next fixture, away at promotion-hopefuls Cheltenham Town on Saturday, Dunne believes Mansfield ‘have enough’ to get a positive result, but will have to be ‘100 per cent professional and ready.’

“The key thing for us is performance - we want consistency of performance,” he added. “We play a team who are going for promotion and have been consistent all season.

“We just have to go into the next game, perform exceptionally well, and hopefully get a result.

“There is distance between the two teams, in terms of the table. We have to make sure that we’re 100 per cent professional and ready, which we believe we can be and should be.

“They’re in a situation like us, as points are important to them. We feel we have enough to go and get a result.

“Cheltenham have, of course, got quality. When you get to the business end of the season, every game is massive.

“We’re not in a position to take anything for granted here - we have to keep working hard. We’ve shown that we can go and compete against those teams [higher in the table].

“The pressure is on those types of teams that this time of the season, as they have a lot to lose, whereas we have a lot to gain - that’s the mentality and motivation we have, is to make sure we finish as high as we can.”

There was also an injury update on three of Mansfield’s current absentees.

“Joe [Riley, pictured below, right] has improved immensely. He’s had some grass time yesterday and will have some more today with the medical team.

“We expect him to hopefully be back with the group this week, so that’s really encouraging news.

“His recovery is good - but we have to understand that he’s come here and played a lot of games in a short space of time.

“Missing the weekend probably gave him that bit of breathing space, but Hayden [White] went in and did well - so that’s good for competition for places.

“Joe would probably expect to be back in and around it this week which, again, boosts the confidence of the group.

“Macca [Alex MacDonald] is probably still a week short. He felt a little unwell over the weekend which has caused a slight setback - hopefully he’ll be back in and around it sooner rather than later.

“Kellan [Gordon] had a little bit of a setback so we’ll wait for an update on that.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Joe’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Mansfield Town can upset Cheltenham Town promotion push on Saturday believes assistant boss Joe Dunne
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town assistant boss Joe Dunne believes the Stags can come away with something from promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town on Saturday with big pressure on both sides.

Stags are still aiming for points to be sure of safety, but the Robins are on the heels of the top three automatic promotion places and Dunne said: “When you get to this business end of the season, every game is massive and it will be another massive test for them and for us.”

“There is distance between the two teams in terms of the table. They deserve to be in and around that shake-up with their consistency.

“We have make sure we are 100 per cent professional and ready, which we believe we will be, then we'll see what happens.

On fifth-placed Cheltenham, he added: “They are in a situation where, as much as them as for us, points are important.


“We know will have to be right on it. But we feel we have enough in us to be able to go and get a result.

“Cheltenham do have quality. Over the last couple of seasons Mansfield have been in a similar situation, challenging for that ultimate goal.

“Their players have been consistent and there has been a consistent team ethic about them.

“He has been able to select near enough the same players week in, week out, which is credit to them.”

Dunne continued: “Going into the weekend and the games coming up, if we can add some more points on the board hopefully we can finish higher up.

“We think we have enough in the squad and in the team to be able to win more matches.

“We've got strikers who are scoring goals at the moment that are a threat in our league.

“We need to get performances at a high level and reduce individual errors.”

A win at Cheltenham would give Mansfield back-to-back League Two wins for only the second time this season after several near misses.

“It's a little bit disappointing for all of us, not being able to get into those moments,” he said.

“In the last six games we have been in winning positions in four of them and seen two out.

“So we've been close to achieving it in recent weeks and that's why we feel there are still some improvements to make.

“Obviously sandwiched in between have been one or two disappointments.

“The key thing for us is performance. We want consistency of performance then the result will take care of itself.

“We play a team that are going for promotion and have been consistent all season. That's the kind of consistency we want to get to our game.

“We can't set any benchmarks yet as we have no benchmarks to set. “We just have to go into the next game, try to perform exceptionally well, and hopefully get a result.”


nottstv.com Feature: The deadly duo shining a light up front in dim campaign for Mansfield Town
nottstv.com, By Jake Brigstock, Feb 18, 2020

Danny Rose and Nicky Maynard have been the preferred option up top for the Stags since the turn of the year. So much so that experienced striker Andy Cook, who signed from Walsall for an undisclosed fee in the summer, joined League One side Tranmere on loan for the rest of the season in January. He said to the management he wanted more playing time.

Rose and Maynard have started every game as a front pairing for Mansfield since the start of 2020. And they’ve formed quite the partnership under Graham Coughlan.

Looking at Mansfield’s last ten games, since the start of gameweek 25 (New Year’s Day), with gameweek 34 being the latest, the Stags have scored 16 goals, the =3rd most in the league.

That run started with a Nicky Maynard hat-trick on New Year’s Day in the 3-2 win at Cambridge United. Of those 16 goals, 10 of them have been scored by Maynard or Rose. A goal per game on average for the first choice strike-force. (It’s worth noting Andy Cook chipped in with three himself in January off the bench before going out on loan.)

Rose got the latest in that tally in the 1-0 win over Newport County at the weekend, a goal which impressed assistant manager Joe Dunne.


Speaking of the goal, Dunne said: “Sometimes you can isolate a moment, a strike from the edge of the box, but there’s a lot more to it than that if you rewind it to the moment we picked the ball up on the counter attack.

“The speed of it, excellent - the speed of which we got from box to box was something we’ve been speaking about a lot. The energy levels were super high. Not long after that, we had Nicky striking from the edge of the box too.

“We’ve got strikers who are scoring goals at the moment and in our league, are a threat.”

When asked about their partnership up front, Rose prefers to talk about his strike partner rather than himself.

He said: “It’s good, I think we link with each other very well. He [Maynard] feeds off my flick ons and he’s the one that runs in behind more.

“He’s just a fox in the box - he’s very good to play with because he just gets goals out of nothing.

“He’ll be quiet for 70, 80 minutes but then come out with two goals like he did against Carlisle.”

In the 10 game run since January 1, Maynard has scored seven of the 10 goals between them compared to Rose’s three.

But over the course of the season so far (34 games), it’s much closer as Maynard has scored 14 league goals to Rose’s 10. Andy Cook has scored seven.

There are only seven teams in the league that have outscored Mansfield so far - three of them only by a single goal and all of those teams sit in the top eight.

Not a bad feat considering the Stags sit 20th in League Two at the time of writing.

Mansfield are in an English football minority of playing two up front. There’s a trend more teams play with one recognised striker up front than two.

Of the 78 professional teams to play in England over the weekend, 31 played with two strikers in a traditional two-man attack.

But Dunne thinks the thought of teams playing with one striker up top being fashionable is ‘a perception’, and that ‘some teams playing with one striker actually have three strikers’.

His eyes light up as the interview turns to tactics, saying ‘this is going to get into systems which I quite like talking about’.

He said: “Sometimes you’ll see a lone striker, but then what are the other two doing? It might be a front three - so it’s all about perception and support that that striker gets.

“We’ve used two strikers in League One (with Bristol Rovers) and in this league, but we’ve also mixed it around a bit.

“Two strikers and two goalscorers probably give you a greater chance to score goals - I don’t think it’s rocket science. The two guys (Maynard and Rose) are getting goals, they’re working extremely hard off the ball now.

“A lot of people would probably only judge them on goals scored but the energy they bring to the front line is important.”

But Dunne warns if Maynard’s and Rose’s performances start to dip, that the Stags have options and a couple of players snapping at their heels to get in the side.

He said: “It’s not just those two, we’ve got other players on the periphery that are working extremely hard and helping to push those guys.

“What we want to bring to the table is that at any moment if you don’t push, you won’t play. That’s something Coughlan will bring and I think everybody knows that.”

Craig Davies is continuing his recovery back from a long-term injury, and youth academy prospect Jimmy Knowles has impressed this campaign.

Dunne said: “Davies works extremely hard. He does his extra training on the grass with the fitness guys despite us training on the astroturf when it’s heavy underfoot.

“He’s being backed up by Jimmy too, who continues to improve every day in training, doing his extras too, so we feel we have a good group pushing each other.”

With Maynard and Rose in fine form, Davies working hard on his recovery and Knowles continuing to improve, Mansfield’s attack has all the ingredients to helps the side finish the season strongly and start next season on the front foot.

And let’s not forget Andy Cook will be back in the summer too.


Late grit pleases Mansfield Town assistant boss Joe Dunne
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

For once, Mansfield Town managed to tough out a result and not concede late on last weekend which assistant boss Joe Dunne believes bodes well for the future.

Stags have dropped important points to late wobbles when in winning positions, but despite late pressure, held firm in Saturday's 1-0 win over Newport.

“On a difficult pitch the effort and commitment was exceptional,” said Dunne.

“They showed great courage to see out the result - it was a great win.


“But we are not going to get carried away. The gaffer expects this on a regular basis.

“The key thing is we approach training this week with the same mentality and not just think everything is okay.

“We want to push our standards, remain committed and keep the motivation high to go and try and get more wins between now and the end of the season.

“Any kind of result, especially in the manner we did it, helps confidence.

“We also made one or two changes on the day which helps competition for places within the group.

“Overall, it was a good day. But it's only one day and we'd like some more.”

He added: “We are now settling down into the choice of system we're playing.”

“We are now seeing in games the ability of players to carry out some of our messages from training.

“We are also seeing, especially on Saturday, the team digging in and fitness levels improving in being able to see out a game.

“They are all small improvements but improvements that will hopefully add up to something much better.


‘Job not done yet’ warns Mansfield Town assistant boss Joe Dunne
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Despite earning three more points towards safety and opening the gap to the drop zone, Mansfield Town assistant boss Joe Dunne said no one at the club believed it was 'job done' as yet.

Stags head to Cheltenham Town on Saturday for the first of four successive games against top eight sides.

Saturday's crucial 1-0 home win over Newport County lifted them to 13 points clear of the drop with only 12 games to go.

But Dunne said: “No chance do we feel like it's job done, though I would not go as far as to say we're 'looking over our shoulders'.


“But we can't get into that 'job done' mindset yet. It's something we want to get rid of actually.

“The disappointing thing is that, since we've come in, we've been in situations where we could have had enough points to put ourselves a lot higher up this league.

“So not for one minute will we ever think the job is done. We need to make sure that does not creep in.”

He added: “I thought there was willingness from the players on Saturday and some top performances from some of them, especially one or two of the senior lads, who stepped up.

“But we are not in a position to take anything for granted here. We have to keep working hard.”

Dunne said the Stags should be relishing the next four games.

“I think they are great games - it's a great challenge,” he said.

“It's for us to set a standard for ourselves between now and the end of the season. You love testing yourself against the best.

“When everyone else at the top are scrambling around to try to get themselves out of this league, let's go take them all on and try to see out the season with good performances to bring us into the summer and take us forward.

“Good performances will be the key. We have shown we can go and compete against those teams.

“The pressure is on those type of teams at this stage of the season as they've got a lot to lose and we've got a lot to gain.

“The mentality and motivation we have is to make sure we finish as high as we can and those teams up there trying to get promoted, only they can look after themselves. It's none of our business.”

Dunne continued: “In the last six games in the form guide we are only two points behind Cheltenham, who are going for promotion at the moment. We've had two wins, two draws and two defeats.

“In the games we are going into against the top sides, we have enough experience about us to go and enjoy those matches.”


Cheltenham return for Mansfield Town defender Joe Riley?
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Defender Joe Riley could be back in the Mansfield Town squad for the trip to Cheltenham Town on Saturday.

Signed from Plymouth Argyle in the January window, the right back, quickly picked up a strain which saw him limp out of two games before missing Saturday's 1-0 home win over Newport County.

However, assistant manager Joe Dunne said: “Joe has improved immensely and had some grass time with the medical staff.

“We expect him to be back in the group this week so that's really encouraging news.


“His recovery is good. We have to be clever and understand he's come to us and played some games in a short space of time.

“When you move on or around deadline day you have to up everything.”

However, a fine display on the right by the returning Hayden White last weekend, will make sure Riley won't expect an easy passage straight back into the team.

“Probably missing last weekend gives Joe a bit of breathing space, which was the idea,” said Dunne.

“But Hayden has gone in now and did well again on Saturday, so there is good competition for places there.

“Joe will probably expect to be in and around by the end of the week which again boost the confidence of the group.”

On injured pair Alex MacDonald and Kellan Gordon, he added: “Macca is probably another week short.

“He had a slight setback over the weekend as he was unwell which has set him back a few days.

“Hopefully he will be back in and around it sooner rather than later.

“I think Kellan has had a little bit of a setback so we await an update on that.”


Stags ‘feeling good’ from intense training programme - striker
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 18 Feb 2020

Striker Danny Rose cited Stags’ ‘tough’ training regime under manager Graham Coughlan as one of the reasons they were able to hold out for an important three points at home to Newport County AFC on Saturday.

The 26-year-old netted the game’s decisive goal in the 29th minute of the affair, with Mansfield preserving a clean sheet in tough weather conditions at One Call Stadium.

The forward says that, due to triple sessions - implemented by the boss on Tuesdays and Thursdays - the Stags are now covering more distance in matches.

“It’s been tough [under Graham Coughlan] but it’s good,” said Rose. “We’re getting fitter and we’re enjoying getting fitter.

“It showed on Saturday because we dug in late on and got the three points.


“We defended for our lives and we got the three points. We’ve played like that a few times this season but have been letting ourselves down in the last five or ten minutes.

“On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have two gym sessions, one before training and one after. Training is tough and the running is tough - we get hard work out of it.

“I feel good and the lads do as well. The distances we’re covering in games show that we are getting there.

“We’ll continue to improve and hopefully we can now end on a positive in order to build something for next season.”

The former Barnsley striker says that the Mansfield squad want to end the season on a positive note, using the remaining fixtures in Sky Bet League Two to inject confidence back into the side ahead of next term.

“We just have to use it [win against Newport] as a stepping stone to now go against Cheltenham and try and get a positive result there,” added Rose.

“We need to get back-to-back victories, so if we do that, it can push us up the league. We just want to have a positive end to the season and try to build something towards next season.

“We want to try and get some confidence back into the team as we know we’ve not been good enough this season. Hopefully we can give the fans something to shout about from now until the end of the season.

“I’m hoping next season we can kick on, because the squad we have is more than capable of being at the right end of the table.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s fixture away at Cheltenham, the forward added: “Cheltenham away on Saturday is going to be a very tough game. Their home form is very good and they’re right up there.

“It will be a tough game but we’re hoping to go there and get a positive result. We’ll go there knowing we can upset any side on our day.

“If we do what we did against Newport - because we played some good stuff in tough conditions - we can cause a little bit of an upset.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Danny’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Intense step-up on fitness regime paying dividends for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

The new fitness regime for Mansfield Town's players under Graham Coughlan has been tough - but Danny Rose believes the players are feeling fitter.

New manager Coughlan has hugely stepped up training after finding his squad short on his required fitness standards when he took over from John Dempster before Christmas.

But striker Rose believes the gruelling new schedule is paying dividends.

“It's been tough under the new manager. Tuesday and Thursday are the really tough days with a standard three sessions,” said Rose.

“But it's good. We are getting fitter and we are enjoying getting fit.


“I think it showed against Newport in the last five minutes when we dug in well and got the three points.

“We do two gym sessions - one before training and one after. Today one is a circuit and the other is a leg circuit.

“The running in training is also tough.

“But I feel good and I think some of the other lads do too.”

He continued: “The distances we are covering proves we are getting up there.

“Maybe before we were not covering that much distance, but a few of the lads now are breaking that 10k barrier which is what the gaffer wanted us to do.

“I think we are starting to see the fruits of the work now. Conceding the late goals was evidence we were not fit enough.

“We are hoping it will all come to fruition before the end of the season so we'll have something to build on for next season.”

Assistant boss Joe Dunne agreed on the step-up in training levels, saying: “We have to maintain fitness levels.

“But, with the way the pitches are at the moment with the weather, we have to get the balance right over how hard we work them. They are in the gym right now.

“The gaffer will probably have the boxing gloves and the pads on too. He loves all that. It's something he is passionate about.

“That's what the gaffer is. He wants to be amongst it and lead from the front. That's the type of guy he is. That's the enthusiasm he brings

“Players are still getting used to that - him leading from the front in those sessions. It's a given

“It's what we're brought up on - attitude, commitment and work rate.”


Back-to-back wins target for Mansfield Town striker Danny Rose
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Danny Rose called on Mansfield Town to achieve back-to-back EFL wins for only the second time this season at Cheltenham Town this weekend and spark a much-overdue run of success.

After netting the winner against Newport last weekend, striker Rose said: “We have to use that as a stepping stone to go against Cheltenham and try to get a positive result there.

“It will be tough, but we need to get back to back victories, having only done it once in the league all season.

“Another three points would push us up a few places.

“Cheltenham's home form is very good and they are right up there. I think they will be there come the end of the season.


“But we can upset any side on our day.

“We want to have a positive end to the season and try to build something towards next season.”

“Back to back wins will help get some confidence in the team.

“We know we've not been good enough for most of the season but hopefully we can now give the fans something to shout about towards the end of the season.”

Rose was delighted to net a rare goal from the edge of the box to shoot down Newport last weekend and move into double figures.

“I can remember Nicky (Maynard) getting on the counter-attack and he's got a shot off that was blocked.

“Luckily enough it's fell to me and I knew conditions weren't good, so I tried using them to my advantage and luckily enough it's squirmed in.

“I think it took the keeper my surprise. I took it quite early and I think it's come through a few bodies and just squirmed under him.

“It's not often I score goals from that far out. I am more used to ones that are tap-ins. So I am quite happy with that one.”

He added: “It was just important to get the three points. It was a big relief to us after the performance against Leyton Orient, which wasn't good enough.

“We knew we had to put in a good performance and we did that in tough conditions.

“We managed the game well and defended with our lives.

“We have let ourselves down at times near the end from set pieces this season.

“We protected Aidan Stone well. But he commanded his box well and it was good to see him in the sticks.”


Tough season of pressure for Danny Rose as Mansfield Town battle for safety points
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

After recent promotion challenges, Mansfield Town striker Danny Rose has not been enjoying the club's recent struggles at the wrong end of the table.

Rose has hit double figures, but the side has rarely fired on all cylinders in a disappointing season.

“I have never had this at Mansfield. I think the only time I had it was at Barnsley as a young lad,” he said.

“It was different at 17/18 as I didn't really know what was going on. I didn't really play much of a part.

“But obviously this season I have played quite a big part.


“It's not nice to be involved in this, but I am hoping next season we can kick on. The squad we've got this season is more than capable of being up at the right end of the table.

“It is a different kind of pressure. We have been looking over our shoulder a little bit - I will admit that as we've not been good enough.

“The win over Newport was a bit of a relief. We knew we'd been putting in the performances but not really getting the results to prove that.”

He added: “We just have not been good enough in stages. At the start of the season there was a hangover from last season, which ultimately did not stand us in good stead.

“But I feel we are doing better recently under the new manager. The performances have been good.”

With Andy Cook going out on loan to Tranmere in January and Craig Davies battling back from injury, Rose admitted the heat was on him and Nicky Maynard to keep hitting the net.

“Yes, Nicky and I do feel a little bit more pressure with Cooky gone,” said Rose.

“I don't think he'd played as much as what he'd have liked and that probably the reason he went out on loan.

“But we have also got Davo and Jimmy Knowles that are fighting to get in the team - that keeps pressure on us and is healthy competition and keeps us going every Saturday.

“I was a little bit surprised when Cooky went as his goal return was good, but he wanted to play games.

“I am quite close to Cooky and I still speak to him now.

“I knew he wanted to play games and a League One club coming in for him at this time of the season was hard to turn down.

“We can't blame him for going and we do wish him all the best. It's only a loan so I am sure we'll see him in the summer.”

However, Rose believes Stags still have enough under the roof.

“Touch wood, if we stay injury free we should have enough to see us through,” he said.

“Davo is looking good in training and we've got Jimmy Knowles, who scored against Oldham a few months ago and is ready to come in whenever he is needed.

“So we've still got four strikers and we also have Jordan Graham to come back. So I think we're all right in that department.”

Rose is enjoying his blossoming partnership with Maynard.

“It's good playing with Nicky. We link well with each other,” he said.

“He feeds off my flick-ons and he is the one that runs in behind most.

“Nicky is just a fox in the box and he's very good to play with as he just gets goals out of nothing.

“He could be quiet for 70/80 minutes but he could then come out with two goals as he did against Carlisle a few weeks back.”

Rose's winner against Newport moved him into double figures for the season.

“I think that is a satisfactory return when compared to last season,” he said.

“You always want to do better than last season and last season's goals return wasn't good enough.

“I set myself the standard of double figures this season and I have got that so far.”

He added: “We now want to just get a few wins and give the fans something to cheer about. We've not done that much this season with our league position.

“If we can get on a run to the end of the season and maybe get a mid-table finish, that's something to take out of what has been a disappointing season.”


Director of football's role, player contracts and importance of half-time dressing room music - Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff ahead of Mansfield Town at home
By Jon Palmer, 20 FEB 2020


This is the second game of three in a row at home and you've already banked three points. Have you talked openly about trying to get nine by Tuesday night?
No, because as boring as it sounds and as the players are told all the time, there are no three points more important than any other three points and every match has to have the same value. Whether we play Swindon away, it's the same as Stevenage away, it's three points. They know we don't look too far ahead. We did dissect the remaining games into three lots of seven games. We are obviously at the start of a new seven now with 14 to go, but the focus is always on the next game.

In terms of how last Saturday went, is this Saturday going to be just as difficult and do Mansfield have the defensive discipline that Orient had?
I think the one thing Mansfield will be disappointed with this season is their defensive record. They have conceded quite a few goals, but the new manager (Graham Coughlan) has come in, they kept a clean sheet last week and there is definitely goals in the team. It's pretty much the same team that just missed out last year. You look at the team, it's the same players, so they are a dangerous, dangerous opponent who I think are in a false position. They can go to any place in the league and go and stick three or four in because they have the players to do it.

When Graham Coughlan was at Bristol Rovers he actually tried to solidify the defence. Has he improved their defending?
Yes, they have not conceded many goals recently. They have obviously changed the manager and something wasn't right, or they felt that something wasn't right. It was more their home form because their away form has been all right. They've scored about the same amount of goals as us, maybe one less I think and we think we are quite a free-scoring team, so that tells you a lot. With people like Danny Rose and Nicky Maynard in the team, you could put any other nine behind them and you are always going to have a chance with those two.

In terms of the way the game went last week, especially the second half, has it given you one or two pointers to work on in this week?
I thought we were excellent and it could have been four or five. It was nice to get it, but I think it was more than deserved. It was almost a training exercise in the second half. I thought we were good against the wind, with two or three really good chances and we should have scored more chances than the one that we did. Their goal was a fluke, so I thought it was good. People will look at it and think we nicked it 2-1 because we scored in the 88th minute, but I didn't think it was the case at all.

From a man-management point of view, is the league helping you now because it's an easy motivator to look at the table and see what might be possible?
They shouldn't need any motivating now. They have worked too hard for too long to get themselves in the position. Whether we achieve anything or not, it won't be or shouldn't be through lack of trying. The club hasn't been in this position for a long time and I've said to the players, seasons like this are difficult to come by, so grasp it while it's here and take advantage of it.

Do you have some difficult calls to make, selection wise?
Jacob Greaves and Will Boyle are an obvious example because whichever one plays, the other will feel hard done by because they've both been excellent this season. We have been going through it on the board downstairs, looking at different scenarios with the games coming up, trying to match different things we might need. You pick a starting XI and look at the ones left over and you have to whittle that down to six outfield subs. It is tough, but it's not a bad problem to have. It's a difficult one because I am the big bad wolf when I have to tell someone they are not in the team, or in the squad, but hopefully the group is strong enough now to realise it's never personal. It's what we think as a staff is the right team and subs for any one particularly game. It's never a case of 'oh we won last week, so we'll pick the same team' - it's never that easy.

How do you explain to Jacob that you were giving him a breather?
Just being honest with him. I felt he had a slight dip, but the levels that he set were so high. He's 18 or 19 and a first year pro, who has just played 30 league games on the spin. Sometimes it's not a bad thing to come out of it and he took it the right way. It's not a bad one to learn off because the one that he has replaced has been unbelievable, the way he's conducted himself and come in. That's why he's hit the ground running because he's ready to go. It's all part of his learning, Greavesie. He's been top drawer and brilliant and the way he's handled the situation has been brilliant as well.

How is Conor Thomas?
Conor trained on Tuesday, so we are expecting him to be fit. He'll obviously train on Thursday and Friday and we are not expecting any sort of reaction. It was a rib injury, so hopefully it's all fine now.

Supporters may look at the Northampton, Port Vale, Colchester sequence as being important, but you would say, 'don't take your eye off the next one'?
The players Mansfield have got nearly got them in the top three last year. They are important games, but they are all worth three points. It is boring, but you can't prioritise any sort of game. We have eight at home, which is a positive, but that's all it is. Unless we turn up with the right mentality and deliver a performance, you aren't going to get anything.

Has the way Will Boyle has reacted to not playing as much as he'd like set the perfect example for other members of the squad?
Players react in different ways. They are all human beings and it is an emotional game. Everyone wants to play and everyone has walked in the door this morning because they want to go and play on Saturday. We have 25 or 26 players currently, a couple on loan and there are going to be quite a few that miss out. From my point of view, yes there is always an ideal way. It's trying to manage the ones that handle it differently. Boylo is a shining example, because of the way he's conducted himself, but that doesn't make him easier to drop from my point of view. It's not a case of leaving him out because he won't kick up a fuss. The right team is the right team. But when he has come in and he's been in and out a couple of times this year, when we played Mansfield he came in, kept a clean sheet and scored and he was left out the next game. He is ready to go, so when he does get the shout, if you don't conduct yourself right, don't train properly and get sloppy with your standards, all of a sudden you aren't ready and the opportunity passes you by. So that's why he is a good example.

Where does the 3-0 win at Mansfield in December rank among top performances this season?
I thought we were good. During that run of games Luke Varney and Reuben Reid were injured. I am hearing a lot about Tottenham at the minute because they have two centre forwards missing. We went a good chunk of the season with that, which goes to show you the quality in the squad and the togetherness of the team that they didn't sulk, didn't cry about it, they just got on with it. You take two big players out of any team, it's going to be affected. It was a good performance. It was conclusive. They were in a difficult moment at the time and the manager was under pressure and has since left. It'll be a different team and I went to watch them play Bradford a couple of weeks ago and there was a lot of energy back in the team. A lot of pressing, which is what Graham wants from his team.

Jonté Smith scored at Field Mill and was left out for the next game. He's going off to play for Bermuda, but will that be useful in teams of match minutes?
We've had that conversation and it's getting that balance of training and trying to get in minutes. The training ground is pretty much under water so it's hard to get any sort of games, or any type of football in. He is doing his little extras and it'll be good for him to get some minutes, but he was unfortunate because he would probably have had a run in the team. He was due to start at Port Vale and over that Christmas period the illness knocked him out for five or six weeks.

On the subject of the training ground, has the weather disrupted your routine much?
No, we've only missed one day. You just have to change your areas. Russ spends every morning walking around trying to find a dry patch, which is difficult at the minute. The players want to train on grass as often as they can . We always manage it. You have to tweak certain things, but we have managed to stay on the grass.

You have broken the fixtures into seven game chunks, but also each match into two halves, with music at half-time. How long have you been doing that?
Since I've come in. It's the start of a half. The players have music on before the game and they all focus and tune in ready to start the game well. So do the same in the second half. I don't know why you wouldn't do the same. No matter what's happened, good, bad or indifferent, you manage to repark it, refocus, reset and maybe tweak and couple of things and then go again. The players are always told that. Whether it works or not, I don't know, but I believe it does.

Micky Moore has become the club's first director of football. Why is the right time for that from your point of view?
It's what he was doing. He is just getting the title of what he was doing. He looks after everything and when I was introduced to him it was explained he would sit between me and the board, so he takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. Player negotiations, contracts and things like that I don't get involved. It's never personal between me and the player. So if I want to sign you, you have your agent, the club have Micky so it doesn't affect me relationship with the player. They might sign it, they might not sign it, but he takes the weight off. He goes and watches a million games as well. Anyone knows, Micky is hardworking. He is downstairs at the minute and he gets into people, he asks difficult questions. He makes people uncomfortable sometimes, but it gets results and makes people accountable for what they are doing. Why are you here, rather than just coasting along or bombing along. He is good and he has good football knowledge. I speak to Micky two or three times a day, to a point that when the phone goes, the kids say, 'who's that, Micky?'. He knows what I want from a player, which is important and he has the best interests of the club. I don't know whether it's a trend or not, but when his title was head of recruitment, it suggested all he did was watch games. Anyone knows he does a million things more than that. It's important he got the right title, so people appreciate and you look at the players we've brought in. Things are going on behind the scenes, it's improving.

So he will find the sort of player you are looking for, offer them to you, you decide and then he negotiates?
Yes, it's always my decision. He'll suggest people, but all the staff have an input. Ultimately if we are not sure, I have to say yes or not, but it's never 'we are signing him' everyone else is unsure, but I say 'I am the manager, we're signing him' because there are a few warning signs by the other members of staff. Every decision we make is a group decision, but it's not a case of I coach the players and he brings them in. That's not the model.

There are a few senior players out of contract this summer. Do you see anything happening before then?
I can't see anything getting done now. The players have been told, everyone has their own agenda, different situations, whether it's age, career, where you are in your life. They all need to be parked now. We all have our own agenda and we all want to go somewhere, but we need to go on the same journey, get to where we want to and then take stock. The ones we have signed have been the younger ones, so we'll see what happens.



Latest | February 2020