COUGHLAN INTERVIEW AS PLAYERS ARE IN ISOLATION
Manager Graham Coughlan interview
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 23 March 2020
We spoke over the phone with manager Graham Coughlan to get an update from the Stags' boss. Here's a full transcript of the interview...
Graham, good to be speaking with you. Firstly, and as importantly as anything, how have you been keeping in these extraordinary times?
It's been different - never have I experienced this before and nor have a lot of people. It's been difficult staying indoors but it's necessary and it's needed. We'll obey the instructions and rules that have been put in place as they have been put in place for a reason. Fingers crossed it won't be too long, and we'll all come through the other side in a fit and healthy state.
What's been the order of business for both you and the players since you went into self-isolation ten days ago?
We've basically been similar to most football clubs. We've took the players' weights and body fats before they leave and when they return it should be no greater than when they left. They all have daily programmes that they have to complete and forward the information to us, such as the timings and the distances.
It's still been busy as the lads are firing through things and we're trying to log it all. It's been busy but the players have been ultimate professionals, to be fair. We broke them up into groups of four and five, and they each have a team leader - a member of staff that they report back to.
Just to put a bit of flesh on the bones - what exactly are you asking the players to do during this period?
Naturally, maintain - I don't think the fitness levels will increase - but I just want them to maintain the levels. I want them to maintain their standards - we got them into a really good place.
We're basically asking for them to be good professional footballers and to look after themselves. We're asking them to come back ready, fit and able to go and probably have to do a mini pre-season when they come back.
Each day they get set a five to six kilometre workload. Some days they may get eight kilometres and other days they might get a ten kilometre workload. Some of them we'll look to get high speed running into and others we'll look to get distance into.
There are lots of variables depending on the player - they are individual training programmes. We just get the feedback and the timings on it, comparing where they should be and where they are. It looks very positive at this moment in time but irrespective of what you do now, you can't prepare yourself for games or for training sessions where you have to have good contact with the ball.
So just how regular is the contact between you and the players?
I've spoken to every player since we've been in isolation. We all have five or six players [assigned to each member of staff] in our group and we contact them regularly. You have to trust that they are being professional but it [contact] is regular.
It's probably once a day minimum or sometimes twice. In fairness, I'm probably getting to know the players a little bit more now - it's an interesting way of doing it and it's an education for ourselves because I've never been through anything like this.
I'm trusting the players to maintain their standards and come back in reasonable shape.
All of this really - in the grand scheme of things - is secondary, it's not really important. But I would still like to ask you about football, because what exactly are you planning for? Are you planning for the season to resume at some point?
I am of the opinion that life and health is paramount. I don't want to sound as if it's a non-caring-about-football attitude, because I love the game, but I don't really care when the season starts back again.
I've been watching the news and 200 people have perished, 200 people have died, and that number is going to grow. Our talks should go into that, making sure we're all fit and healthy, and if we can go back into football, making sure we can contain this virus and help the NHS.
I know the people on the frontline are stretched, so I don't want to be selfish and start talking about football. I can't wait to get back - don't get me wrong - but our thought process at this moment in time has to be with the people on the frontline, fighting this virus and helping this country.
I think you hit the nail on the head because you're talking about 200 people that have passed away already, which is hard-hitting. Putting dates on things and looking at football, talking about should the season be null and void - yes, the season should be null and void, because there are far more important things in life than putting dates on when we come back.
We come back when we come back. If the season carries on, it carries on. But let's put all of our time and our energy into what's going on at this moment in time and making sure we have as minimal damage and deaths as possible.
I'm looking across Europe at Italy and Spain, and I just hope that those kind of catastrophes don't hit us. I just hope we're sensible enough in this country to heed the warnings and stay on top of it.
You said some really poignant and interesting things there Graham. In summary, what is your message - not only Mansfield Town supporters - but to the community of Mansfield and perhaps further afield?
Let's take the information and the messages, and let's heed what the Prime Minister has been saying. Staying off the streets, avoiding mass gatherings, staying indoors. It is a hardship, but it is for the best and the good of us all.
There is a reason why we are being told and the information we are being given. There is a reason behind everything they are saying.
Let's heed the information, let's stay safe and let's self-isolate. Hopefully, we can come through the other side of it.
When football becomes important again, we can take that up and put our hats, scarves and jerseys on - but at this current moment in time, it's about people's health and longevity. We want as many people to avoid this virus as possible.
Therefore, you have to and you must take heed of what we're being told. Hopefully it will be short-term pain for long-term gain. A couple weeks of isolation is not a hardship when you look at some of the devastation that's going on across Europe.
Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan backs ‘lockdown’ strategy as fight against virus continues
By John Lomas, chad.co.uk
Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan is backing Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 'lockdown' strategy against the coronavirus pandemic and admits the return of the football season is irrelevant right now.
Stags' season is on indefinite hold and now the Government have urged people to stay at home as they step up their fight against the disease.
“Stay off the streets,” said Coughlan. “It is a hardship but, let's be honest it's for the best and for the good of us all - not only the community but for the good of the country too.
“There is a valid reason behind everything the Prime Minister is saying.
“I think he has led us really, really well. He has had a barrow-load of problems since he came in with Brexit and now coronavirus and he has stood up to the plate.
“Let's stay safe, self-isolate and, hopefully, we can come through the other side of it.
“When football becomes important again we can put on our hats, scarves and jerseys again and go out and cheer for our football team. But at this current moment in time and for the foreseeable future it's about people's health and longevity.
“Hopefully it will only be a short term pain for a long term gain. Self-isolation is no hardship when you look at some of the devastation going on across Europe.”
He continued: “I am of the opinion that life and health is paramount and, while I don't want to sound as if I have a non-caring attitude about football as I love the game, I don't really care when the season starts back again.
“Over 300 people have perished over here and that number is going to grow. That is hard-hitting.
“It's not looking too healthy and, looking across Europe at places like Italy and Spain, I am hoping those type of catastrophes don't hit us.
“I just hope we're sensible enough to stay on top of it and heed warnings and information given to stave off that massive amount of deaths.”
Coughlan urged backing for an NHS that is being stretched like never before.
“Our thoughts and our energy should be into making sure we're all fit and healthy,” he said.
“But we must make sure we back up and help the NHS as I know the people on the front line are stretched.
“I don't want to be selfish and start talking about football and when we start back.
“I can't wait to get, don't get me wrong, but our thoughts have to be with the people on the front line who are fighting this virus and trying to get this country back on its feet.
“People ask if the season should be null and void? Yes it should as there are far more important things in life than putting dates on football. We will come back when we come back.
“This season carries on if it carries on, but let's put all our time and effort into what is going on to make sure we have as few deaths as possible.”
Lives come before football says Mansfield Town star CJ Hamilton
By John Lomas, chad.co.uk
Mansfield Town winger CJ Hamilton is happy to see the Government finally implement a clampdown on social gatherings but urged people to get outdoors and stay fit when possible during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Although still allowed out to exercise, the public have been otherwise told not to meet up as the UK fights its battle against the worldwide crisis.
Hamilton is keeping himself as fit as possible in case the football season returns and said: “I think the lockdown was needed probably a couple of days earlier.
“As soon as they told certain people to stop working, everyone started going out and meeting each other which is the total opposite of what you're supposed to do.
“You are spreading the virus round and killing off a lot of people that are trying to help people in the NHS and spreading it to older people too.
“I think it's a good thing the lockdown has come now so people can stay in, self-isolate, and chill with your family.”
Hamilton believes he will find staying home easy.
“I phone my family every day and I am keeping myself busy - I am one of those who can entertain myself with anything,” he said.
“I have my girlfriend living with me, I have my Playstation and I can watch movies - so I am staying mentally switched on.
“It is a weird situation and I don't think anyone has ever experienced this before. Everyone wants to go out and do things but it's safer to stay in.
“As long as everyone can stick to that we can get through this thing and get back to normal.”
He admits lives comes before football, saying: “The first thing you want is everyone being healthy.
“So if we had to call the season off, it's got to be done if people's lives are at stake.
“Everyone can appreciate the amount of hard work teams have done this year to try to get their clubs in a better position, but that has to be balanced.”
Hamilton is hard at work each day working on instructions from the club.
“I have a programme to complete every day and then send a message,” he said.
“We are given three runs to do with a little breather in between.
“It's about self-discipline. Everyone has been told to stay at home and if we follow the rules this can be done quicker and we can move on.”
But Hamilton urged everyone to get out and do something energetic for the good of both their physical and mental health during the lockdown.
“My girlfriend and I have been out for a walk to exercise our lungs and try to keep fit and mentally healthy. The weather has actually been all right.
“Just to go out for a short walk, even half an hour, you're giving yourself a bit of exercise - anything from a jog to a walk can be beneficial.
“Being stuck in all day it can give you that bit of a blow-out you may need.”