COUGHLAN AND SWEENEY PREVIEW SWINDON GAME
Turn performances into wins, says boss
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 25th February 2020
Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan has challenged his players to ‘step up’ and finish the season as strongly as possible, to gather momentum heading into the next campaign.
Mansfield’s next match is against league leaders Swindon Town, with the amber and blue facing a stern test to extend their current three-match unbeaten run on home soil.
The manager says that, although he has seen improvements from his side in terms of their performances and belief, it is now important to start winning matches to generate confidence over the 11 remaining matches this season.
“It’s hard to take anything away from games of football when you’re not winning,” he told iFollow Stags. “I’m here to win games and bring success to this football club.
“You can see the change and the improvements, but, at the end of the day, winning was drummed into me from an early age and I’d like us to have that mentality.
“We haven’t won enough games of football, which is the most disappointing part. But everything else has been really productive and positive.
“The players are going into games more confident than they were previously. But the game of football is about winning.
“The lads were beat up and negative when we came in. There was lots that wasn’t quite to my liking that we needed to shape and fix. I think we’re making change and slowly but surely getting there.
“The only stats or numbers that will satisfy me is three points on a Saturday and climbing up that table, winning games of football.
“I want to win and bring success to this football club. I will get there, but it’s possibly taken me a little longer than I wanted or expected.
“We’ll work hard right until the end [of this season] and throughout the summer to be ready for next season.
“I’m asking the players to show up from now until the end of the season. Yes, there have been improvements, but it’s about winning games.
“It’s up to me to provide everything I can for this group and for this football club for people to keep faith and confidence with me. It’s 11 games from now until the end of the season, so I’m asking everyone to step up and give it a good go from now until the end.”
The boss says he ‘can’t wait’ for Saturday’s clash against table-toppers Swindon, and that the support from the Mansfield faithful makes him ‘love playing at home.’
“I love playing at home - the fans have been brilliant,” he added. “Hopefully we can make this place [One Call Stadium] a fortress and get them in good voice. We want to give them something to cheer about from now until the end of the season.
“Swindon are top of the league and winning games of football. For us to come close to them on Saturday, it will take all of our players to give an eight or nine out of ten performance.
“I believe we can do that and I’m really looking forward to the game. It’s a great game to go into and I can’t wait. I do believe our lads are turning a corner and the mentality is slowly starting to change.
“There has to be a balance [in training] - we’ll split our days up, concentrating on defending and attacking. We are looking tighter [at the back] and a very dangerous outfit when we’re on the front foot going after teams.
“It’s about having that belief, and we’re not far away - we’re remaining positive. The lads are doing two or three sessions a day, and it’s not ideal that we’re having to give the lads eight or nine sessions a week.”
Graham Coughlan also spoke of midfielder Jack Evans’ influence on the squad, despite the on-loan Swansea midfielder not yet making appearance for Mansfield since joining the club last month.
“Jack has come in and done well. He’s come from under-23 football with Swansea - the level between that and league football is slightly different.
“He’s doing very well and what he has done is pushed [Harry] Charsley, [Willem] Tomlinson and [Neal] Bishop to the next level.
“He’s asking questions of their jerseys and their positions. He’s the competition that we needed and Bish has really flourished with Jack behind him.
“If anything, Jack has had a massive positive effect on our midfield players.”
There was also an injury update on current absentees Alex MacDonald, Matt Preston and Kellan Gordon.
“He [MacDonald] is still a week or two short. We’ll be missing Macca this weekend, but fingers crossed sometime next week we’ll get him out on the grass.
“We’re aiming [to get him back] for Northampton, but if that doesn’t come off, we’ll aim for the next game [Crewe].
“Matt [Preston] has a tight hamstring - he picked up a niggle on Friday when we were working on shape and set pieces.
“We’re glad it’s settled down - he’s responded well and is working hard. That’s one we’ll have to gauge in the week. He’s possibly another one that we won’t have this weekend.
“I think Kellan [Gordon] is some way short, as of yet. He’s still not got out on the grass and still hasn’t taken part in any of our sessions.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan: 'I want wins'
chad.co.uk, By Mark Duffy, Tuesday 25th February 2020
Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan says he is noticing big improvements from his players all the time - but that will mean little to him if Stags don’t start winning more games.
Coughlan was speaking ahead of the visit of League Two leaders Swindon Town to the One Call Stadium this weekend, where Stags will aim to extend their unbeaten run at home to four matches.
But having been enthused by what he’s seen from his players overall since taking charge, he now wants to see those improvements turned into more points.
He said: “It’s pretty hard to take anything away from games of football when you're not winning.
“I get where people are coming from when they're patting us on the back but let’s not pat ourselves on the back for losing games of football.
“We’re here to win games and bring success to this football club. I can see the change and the improvements and where we’re going with it, but at the end of the day, as a player, as a kid and growing up, my life was built around winning and I want us to have that mentality.
“It’s nice to play pretty and to dominate a promotion-chasing team like against Cheltenham and Plymouth but we haven't won those games of football and that’s the most disappointing thing for me so far.”
Nevertheless, Coughlan was still keen to give his players praise where it was due, particularly with regard to their mentality having improved since his arrival.
He said: “At the risk of contradicting myself, everything else has been productive and really positive. The players are now going into games slightly more confident than they were previously, but we can’t paper over the cracks as football is about winning.
“When I arrived the players were negative and beaten up and felt they couldn't put one foot in front of the other.
“The fitness levels weren’t quite where I wanted them but it's tough when you're not winning, particularly with the hangover from last season and so on.
“We needed to shape and fix and I think we're slowly getting there in terms of performances, stats and dominating games which all suggest there has been a positive change, but at the only stats and numbers that will satisfy me are getting points, wins and climbing up the league table.
“We have not won enough games and I take that personally. I want success for this football club. The owners have gone out of their way to bring me here and I've given up a lot and walked away from a lot to bring success here, and I will get there, but it's possibly taken a bit longer than I wanted and expected.”
Jack Evans is bringing the best out of fellow Mansfield Town midfielders
chad.co.uk, By Mark Duffy, Tuesday 25th February 2020
Jack Evans has been having a positive impact since his arrival at Mansfield Town.
The 21-year-old, on loan from Swansea City, is yet to feature, but manager Graham Coughlan says he is playing his part.
"Jack has come in and done well, to be fair," he said.
"Obviously, he's come from under 23s football with Swansea.
"The levels and the pace and that you get with the physical side of the game, league football is slightly different, but he's growing into it.
"And what he has done, I'm sure we will all agree and notice, he has pushed Charsley, Tomlinson and Bishop to the next level. He's now asking questions of their jerseys and their positions, so he's added the competition that we needed.”
Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan wants to go toe-to-toe with League Two leaders Swindon Town
Graham Coughlan says Swindon Town will pose the sternest test he has faced as Mansfield Town boss... but he wants his side to trade blows with the League Two table toppers.
The Stags manager is adamant that the best way of beating the Robins is by playing to their own strengths.
When asked if he would be paying special attention to his defence in training this week ahead of hosting the side who have netted 60 times in 34 league contests, Coughlan's message was simple.
"When you work on defending you don't score down the other end. You work on scoring, you don't defend down the other end. I think there has to be a balance," he said.
"I don’t think we can concentrate on one end of the park in particular.
"We normally do a lot of work on offensive and defensive work, we normally split our days up in the week where one day's spent on one department and another day's concentrated on the other. So I won't concentrate solely on defending.
"If anything we are looking a little more solid, a bit tighter and we are looking a dangerous outfit on the front foot when we go after teams. We won't change too much."
Although Coughlan wants to take the game to Swindon, he admits the Robins will be no pushovers.
"You can't ask for bigger, you can't ask for better. They're miles ahead of every other team in this division. They’re top of the league, winning games of football," he continued.
"For us to come close to them on Saturday, for us to give them a good competitive game, a good examination, it will take all our players to turn up, to give an eight or nine out of 10 performance.
"I believe we can do that. I believe the lads can do that. It's a game I'm really looking forward to.
"We played Cheltenham, we played them off the park. We played Plymouth, we played them off the park. But yet we haven't won football matches. I keep harping on back to that old broken record, I know, but it's a great game to go into.
“I can't wait because I do believe our lads are turning a corner. It’s slowly but surely starting to change."
We are improving, now we need consistency - defender
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 25th February 2020
Defender Ryan Sweeney has discussed the impact made by manager Graham Coughlan since he arrived at the club, and the players’ targets for the remainder of the campaign.
Sweeney, 22, has appeared 38 times for the Stags this season, starting all but two of the current Mansfield boss’ matches this term.
The former Stoke City centre-back says that ‘fitness levels and performance levels’ have improved under the stewardship of the manager, and that the Stags need to ‘attack’ the remaining games of the season to accumulate the points their ‘performances have warranted.’
“Since the gaffer [Graham Coughlan] has come in I think it’s been there for all to see that there have been improvements,” said the defender.
“Fitness levels and performance levels, collectively and individually, have gone up. We would have liked more points on the board since the gaffer has come in - I think our performances have warranted that.
“At the end of the day, we haven’t got it [more points], so we need to keep working and finish the season strongly, accumulating as many points as possible.
“It’s about trying to get those consistency levels. The performance levels have been good so if we can do that [develop consistency], I’m sure we can pick up more wins.
“We want to finish the season as strongly as possible. We have some tough games coming up and that [tough run] started on Saturday against Cheltenham.
“We’ll take it game-by-game and focus on the next challenge. It’s just about getting as many wins as possible, which will give us the momentum to carry into pre-season and the start of next season.
“We want to attack these last 11 games to give us that momentum heading into next season. Hopefully we can do that, starting with Saturday [against Swindon].”
Sweeney also reflected on Saturday’s narrow defeat to Cheltenham, a game that saw the Stags pass up several opportunities to score.
The centre-back says that Mansfield lacked a ‘clinical’ edge in what was a ‘good performance.’
“We probably lacked that clinical nature [on Saturday]. We had good opportunities to take the lead but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
“The one good opportunity they produced, they produced a bit of quality and won the game, so that was the difference.
“When you concede a goal, there are always parts that you felt you could do better with. But to be fair to Cheltenham, they put a good ball in and [Reuben] Reid is in the right place at the right time.
“We’ll look back on the game today and pick the bones of it, see what we could have done better and try to improve it for the next game.
“I thought the overall performance was good and we looked solid. We kept them relatively quiet and they made the triple substitution - that probably swung the game a little bit in their favour, but not too much.
“I thought we had decent control of the game, even though they probably had more possession. On another day we might have gone there and scored two or three, but that’s just the way it went on Saturday and we have to move on from it.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against league leaders Swindon Town, Sweeney says that the home crowd can play a big part on proceedings at One Call Stadium, as they did in the recent 1-0 win over Newport County AFC.
“Obviously it will be a really tough game as they have had a brilliant season to be sitting at the top of the table.
“We knew from the previous game [against Swindon] that they are a difficult side to play against. But I thought down there [County Ground] we had a good opportunity to take something from the game.
“We’re in for a tough game and they play a really good style of football. But it’s one we have to look forward to and prepare for in the right way.
“We’re off the back of a home win against Newport so hopefully we can take that momentum into this game.
“We have to go in there and believe we can take something from the game. If we get the home crowd behind us and get on the front foot early, I’m sure we’ll have a good opportunity to do that.
“It’s an opportunity for us to see where we’re at as well. It’s a game we’re looking forward to. The home fans have been really good recently in terms of dragging us over the line - that was for all to see against Newport.
“We’re all looking forward to getting back home Saturday and hopefully putting on a performance for them.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Ryan’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Mansfield Town are moving in the right direction , says Ryan Sweeney
The Stags are on the up, according to Ryan Sweeney.
The Mansfield Town defender is adamant that the squad are showing improvements since the arrival of manager Graham Coughlan.
"I think since the gaffer's come in, it's all there to see that there's been improvements in terms of the fitness levels," Sweeney said at Tuesday’s press conference.
"The performance levels - collectively and individually - have gone up.
"We'd have liked to have had more points on the board since the gaffer's come in, I think our performances have warranted that.
"But at the end of the day we haven't got it and we need to keep going, finish the season strong and accumulate as many points and wins as possible."
swindonadvertiser.co.uk, By Shaun Reynolds @95_reynolds, Chief sports writer, Wed 26 Feb 2020
Meanwhile, it would seem Town’s squad will have to prepare to face winds in excess of 40mph for a fifth weekend in a row when visiting Mansfield on Saturday.
MetOffice forecasts suggest 44mph winds are set to batter Field Mill with heavy hail showers also predicted in time for kick-off.
Forecasts will certainly frustrate Wellens, but he is of the opinion that his squad has dealt with the atrocious recent weather well.
He explained: “We’re trying to play in the right areas, we’re not passing out from the back as risky as we sometimes do.
“We’re trying to play in the opposition team’s half a lot more. We know if we get the ball into the final third with the ball on the floor in good possession, it takes the wind out of it.
“The wind only really comes into the equation when you play long balls or long passes on the floor.
“We need to get the front three more involved, but that’s been the secret to our results.”
Swindon boss Richie Wellens criticises Mansfield Town's sacking of David Flitcroft
Swindon Town boss Richie Wellens believes Mansfield Town’s difficult season has been down to the sacking of David Flitcroft last summer.
Flitcroft was dismissed having failed to guide Stags to promotion, despite being in the top three for much of the campaign and losing out in the play-of semi-finals.
And Wellens, who brings his table-topping side to the One Call Stadium this weekend, feels that sacking Flitcroft was the wrong decision, highlighted by John Dempster and Graham Coughlan’s subsequent struggles to guide Stags up the League Two table.
He said: “They’ve missed out on promotion by the barest of margins twice and then they make a decision to change their manager.
“I think it’s another example of a club that has come so close to getting to where they want to be and then make a rash decision to get rid of their manager who had done exceptionally well there.
“I think his [Flitcroft’s] win percentage was outstanding, surely he must have seen little tweaks he could have made to improve the squad and make that extra step to get them promoted.
“But they went down the avenue of changing their manager. When you sign a player, there is no guarantee, and when you sign a manager, there is no guarantee. I think they would feel they should definitely be higher than they are this season because they’ve got a lot of talent in the squad.
“Defensively, they’ve got very strong players who are used to this level, and in Danny Rose and Nicky Maynard, they’ve got two strikers at this level who can score goals.”
Wellens has backed Coughlan to turn things around at Mansfield once he is able to make the squad his own.
He added: “Graham was very successful at Bristol Rovers, but if I’m him - and this is just me looking in from the outside - I’d want the season to end as quickly as possible.
“He’ll get a view on each of his players, but he’ll want the summer to come to get a few of his own players in and do a bit of recruitment.
“I’ve been where Graham is now, and it can be tough.
“But we’ve just got to make sure we go there and remain in the same frame of mind as how we’ve been in recent weeks.”
Latest | March 2020