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3rd September 2020 0:28

We’ll miss the fans on Saturday, says boss
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 27th August 2020

Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan has conceded that Saturday’s game at Preston North End will be ‘hard’ without the Mansfield fans in attendance, but that the amber and blue will ‘give a good account of themselves’ at Deepdale.

The manager spoke to iFollow Stags on Thursday morning ahead of his side’s first competitive fixture of the new season this weekend.

He discussed his side’s eagerness to ‘make a name for themselves’ in the North West on Saturday.

“We can’t wait to get going and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” he began. “It’s been a long, long time [since we’ve played competitively], but we’re getting close to our first competitive game.

“The adrenaline starts to kick in and we can’t wait to get going. You miss that adrenaline rush and the atmosphere.


“Saturday will be different - it will be hard as we won’t have the fans. But there will be a competitive edge, and you do miss that competitive side of the game.

“We’ll give a good account of ourselves [on Saturday] and the lads are looking forward to it. Let’s go, enjoy it, do our best, and see where we are at five o’clock on Saturday.

“Make no mistake, we want to win the game. We’re going down there to try and make a name for ourselves.

“We want to get through it injury-free, but if there’s a tackle to be made, we’ll tackle, if there’s a header to be won, we’ll win it.”

Ahead of the weekend’s Carabao Cup first round tie, the boss provided an update on his squad.

“At this moment in time there are one or two [players] that I probably won’t risk,” he added. “There are a number of players that haven’t played 90 minutes, so I’m hoping Saturday will be their first and they come through unscathed.

“Squad selection at this moment in time, I haven’t really made my mind up. I like the way we looked in the first 60 minutes [against Rotherham].

“But there are one or two banging on my door and pushing to play, but I can’t - as I say - run the risk of losing players.

“My main worry is the lack of 90 minutes, given this Saturday was supposed to be our fourth pre-season friendly.

“Yes, it’s not ideal, but I hope we come through it injury-free. I think Alex Neil [Preston manager] will be saying the same - you don’t want to be picking up injuries at this time of the season.”

Graham Coughlan also reflected on Stags’ pre-season campaign, stating that his players could not have ‘worked any harder.’

“We have certainly got closer - we’ve put a lot of hard work in and there is structure and organisation [within the squad].

“We have done a lot on the training ground and had a couple of entertaining games.

“We’re still growing, but I’ve enjoyed pre-season. It was a hard pre-season and it was great pulling each other through various challenges.

“I do think there is a team spirit and bond growing and building in the changing room.

“I don’t quite know where we are fitness-wise, because we haven’t had a [competitive] 90-minute game yet. We’ll know where we are after the game on Saturday.

“I don’t think they could’ve worked any harder and I don’t think I could’ve asked any more of them. They have been hard-working and I’m really pleased in what they have given over pre-season.”

And, in these unprecedented times in the football world, the Stags’ chief spoke of the differences his side will encounter compared to a typical away day at Deepdale this weekend.

“We’re going to go with one coach, but it’s a bigger coach, 82 seats. The coach company separate the seats - the players will be upstairs and the staff will be downstairs.

“Masks will be worn on the coach as well and briefings will have to be held in smaller groups.

“But the be-all and end-all is when you run out of the tunnel on Saturday and don’t see any fans.

“That will be the biggest factor - I think the lads can live with the social distancing on the coach and the face masks.

“The biggest thing on Saturday will be running out to an empty stadium - I think that’s when it will hit us the hardest.”


Coughlan told Notts TV:

"I'm pleased with the business we've done. Probably 16-17 bodies have left the club. 10 have come in. I'm quite happy with that."

"There's a couple of players I've tried to bring in, and they were out of my league financially and they've gone to other clubs."

"What we will be is young, fit, healthy, and hungry."


Coughlan told Jake Garner on BBC Radio Nottingham, Thursday, 27th August 2020:
"Willem (Tomlinson) is still under investigation. It's very very difficult, I wasn't there myself that evening so I don't know what's gone on.
Willem has put his side across to the football club. We've then got to go out and have a look and to the outside world and see where we are.
Willem is still suspended pending the investigation.
He has the opportunity to go if he wishes to find himself another club.
He phoned us last week and asked us could if he play in a game for Accrington Stanley and we gave him that permission.
So what it turns out like I don't know. It's very very difficult to do what you would like to do because there's all sorts of restrictions on employee rules.
Will is still under contract at this football club, he's still an employee at this football club. But if he wants to find a new football club I'm quite happy for him to go to pastures new."


Coughlan told iFollow Stags, 11 Aug 2020:
"Will (Tomlinson) has been daft. He was acting the clown down the town and you don't do that. You're a professional footballer.
He was fined 2 weeks wages and he was suspended. The suspension is pending further investigation.
But I won't tolerate any of that nonsense, that messing.
Professional footballers, particularly this day and age, with what the rest of the country are going through, to have people cross a line, misplace my trust, let the rest of the changing room down, let the badge down, that's not my cup of tea at all.
The maximum I could fine him is 2 weeks and the best I could do is suspend him. So let's see what happens where Willem is concerned.


The buzz is back at Mansfield Town ahead of Preston North End clash, but Graham Coughlan admits the fans will be missed
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday, 27th August 2020

The buzz is back as Mansfield Town as they prepare for their first competitive fixture in almost six months - but manager Graham Coughlan admits it won't be the same without fans.

The Stags travel to face Championship side Preston North End on Saturday (KO 3pm) as the two sides meet in the Carabao Cup.

"The old routine's starting to fall into place," Coughlan said at today's press conference.

"The lads had the buzz about them at the training ground this morning.


"You can certainly feel it, you can certainly sense it and you can certainly get that in your nostrils - you can smell the first game's only round the corner. It is exciting."

The Stags' last competitive fixture was March 7's 2-1 victory at play-off winners Northampton Town.

And while the long-awaited return to action is less than two days away, supporters will have to log on from home and watch via live stream.

And the Stags boss says they'll be missed.

"Don't tell me football's the same without the fans," Coughlan added.

"You sit at home watching it on the telly, it ain't the same. The fans give you that extra five or 10 per cent in the game.

"That will probably be the strangest part of the new season, not having our own fans behind us and the atmosphere in the ground.

"It'll be my first professional game out of pre-season without fans, and I don’t know how that'll feel."


Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan admits Carabao Cup rivals Preston North End have 'natural advantage' - but challenges his Stags to shake off the ring rust
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne

Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan concedes Preston North End have the 'natural advantage' going into today's Carabao Cup clash.

While the new-look Stags prepare for their first competitive fixture in almost six months, the Lilywhites only concluded their Championship campaign on August 22.

"I think the Championship season only finished four weeks ago so they'll be at it," Coughlan said.

"They haven't had a lot of time off. We've not played since March 7, so our team are looking at the best part of five-and-a-half months out.


"There's a natural advantage in Preston's favour.”

But despite those differing levels of ring rust - and the two-division gap between the two sides - Coughlan is challenging his side to test their hosts.

"I think we all know what we're expecting, 4-2-3-1. They're a footballing team," he said.

"They keep the ball well so I'm expecting a really technical game. it will be good, it will be lively, it will be vibrant.

"They're a Championship team with Championship players, international players. I just hope we go out and give a good account of ourselves, it's there to be enjoyed.

"As I say to the players before they go out on the pitch every game, enjoy yourself, work hard and represent yourself to the best of your ability.

"It's going to be tough, we know that, but we're going to enjoy it and see how far we've come."

Coughlan has previously spoken out against the scheduling of the tie, claiming it has come too early for his side.

However, with the game fast-approaching he is now focusing on preparing the Stags.

"It's affected the plans as we've had to re-arrange, restructure and re-organise but it's something we've adapted to," Coughlan continued.

"We've had a real good week to be honest and we're looking forward to the game.

"Obviously, you have to be thinking of selection, personnel. There's a lot of variables you have to give consideration to.

"It's not ideal. It's something that's been chucked at us, we just have to accept it and get on with it."

Today's fixture also affords Coughlan a trip down Memory Lane as he returns to a familiar stadium.

"It's going to be strange, but it will bring me back to where I started," he said.

"I played reserve team football for Blackburn up at Deepdale, so that'll bring back some memories.

"I'd love to be on the pitch with them. I've always said I'd love to put the boots on one more time because my career went so quick. It felt like it was overnight.

"I always say to the players, appreciate what you can. We have missed it these months."


"We'd love to have him!" Door remains open for Nicky Maynard at Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday, 27th August 2020

The door remains open for Nicky Maynard at Mansfield Town.

The striker, who netted 14 times in 33 appearances for the Stags last season, has been out of contract since June 30.

The 33-year-old former West Ham and Bristol City forward is currently re-evaluating his future, but manager Graham Coughlan says the offer to remain with Town is still on the table.

"Nicky's contract was up at the end of the season. I spoke to him from the day I've come in about keeping him at the club," Coughlan said.


"But his contract ended on June 30. It ran out and we'd offered Nicky a deal pre-pandemic.

"Nicky wanted to speak to one or two others, re-evaluate and see what was out there.

"We continued to speak to Nicky all the way along and there is still an offer if Nicky wants to stay on board.

"We'd love to have him. If I could I'd take Nicky Maynard all day long as he's a goalscorer."


Midfielder discusses ‘intense’ training sessions
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 27th August 2020

Versatile midfielder James Perch has spoken of the intensity of boss Graham Coughlan’s training sessions, ahead of this weekend’s Carabao Cup clash at Championship side Preston North End.

Perch, who has appeared in the Premier League for Newcastle United, signed with the Stags earlier this month.

And, the 34-year-old has had good first impressions of his new manager, Graham Coughlan.

“Before I signed, I spoke to the manager about his ideas and how he wanted to play,” he told iFollow Stags. “He hasn’t let me down since I’ve signed - it’s been brilliant.

“He wants the lads working hard which is what you’d expect, and he’s big on discipline which goes a long way as well.


“The training is intense, sharp - you have to be at it or you’ll get left behind. That’s what I’ve done all my career.”

Mansfield-born Perch says that he has enjoyed his first fortnight at One Call Stadium, and says that there is a ‘good feeling’ within the camp.

“I’ve loved it [first two weeks at Mansfield],” he added. “I came a bit later than the rest of the lads, but I’ve managed to get up to speed and I’m ready to play some games.

“The lads as a group are brilliant. We’ve got a great blend of youth and experience. All of the lads are sound and have welcomed me.

“There’s a good feeling in the group and with that, you can go far. All of my friends from Mansfield have been texting me saying ‘good luck’ and ‘welcome home’ so it’s been positive.

“I’m just looking forward to the fans being able to come back.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s season-opener at Preston, Perch added: “Saturday’s game has been brought forward, which is not ideal, but we just have to deal with it.

“But personally I feel fit, fine and ready to go. As a manager I can understand why it would be frustrating that you’ve got a game thrown in.

“We’re not 100 per cent match fit, but there’s nothing you can do - you just have to get on with it.

“It’s the same for Preston, and even though it’s not ideal, we just have to get on with it and play.

“Alex Neil [Preston boss] is a good manager, and last season they missed out of the play-offs by a couple of games. Preston will be bang at it and we’re expecting a tough, physical game.

“Everyone is thinking that Preston are going to beat us on Saturday, but we’re going there to frustrate and to win the game.

“This game on Saturday is going to help [with match fitness] - we’ll just have to try and get as many minutes as we can. We’ll definitely be match fit for [Tranmere on] the 12th [September].”

The former Nottingham Forest man also spoke of the match being played behind-closed-doors, the first competitive fixture Mansfield will play without supporters this season.

“The Premier League players and Championship players have done it [played without fans], but I haven’t yet [in a competitive game]. So it’s going to be strange.

“I got a taste of it on Saturday against Rotherham and it was strange - you can hear everything, hear the manager shouting on [the touchline].

“It will be something that you can look back on and say ‘this was the period where we played without fans’ and it will kind of be historic in a way.

“I’m not going to do anything differently. I’m going to prepare as if I’m playing in front of 68,000!”


Mansfield Town can expect 'aggressive' test at Preston North End, says James Perch
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday, 27th August 2020

James Perch is expecting an aggressive test at Deepdale as Mansfield Town look to upset Preston North End in the Carabao Cup.

The former Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest man hopes to make his competitive debut for the club he supported as boy tomorrow (KO 3pm).

But he knows he will have to be at his best when facing the Championship Lilywhites.

"It'll be a tough game. They've always been a tough opponent at Deepdale," Perch said.


"I know Alex Neil likes to set his teams up to be aggressive. I know it's going to be a physical game and one not to be taken lightly."

Perch agrees with manager Graham Coughlan that the scheduling of the fixture has probably come too soon for a club that was preparing for a September 12 return to competitive action.

But he admits he is desperate to return to action.

"I wouldn't say I feel 100 per cent if I'm being honest, but we're not meant to be at this stage of pre-season," Perch said.

"We've still got two weeks to go until what we thought was the start of the season. It's kind of messed the plans up a little bit and I'm sure the gaffer's pulling his hair out with it, he probably didn't need it to come this soon. But that's what the EFL decided and we'll have to get on with it.

"You just want to get involved, the games to get going. You go in pre-season and get blasted running wise. You just can't wait for the games to get going so you can try to make a mark.

"It's been the best part of six months since I last played a competitive game, which is a long-term injury when you think about it. You definitely miss it when you're injured and it feels a bit like that.

"Now it's coming round it's getting exciting."

Perch has found his return to pre-season training tough, but necessary, and now he is raring to go with his home-town club.

"It's been good, it's nice to be back home," the 34-year-old said.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks but I've needed it to get up to speed with the rest of the lads. They seem great, honest lads - good attitude.

"We can build and hopefully have a good team.

"I started at Forest and I've done what I've done. To finally end up at Mansfield where I live half an hour down the road is perfect."


Preston North End’s Carabao Cup opponents Mansfield say clash has come too EARLY for them
Lancashire Evening Post

Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan believes it is “advantage Preston” when the two sides meet at Deepdale at the weekend in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

The fixture has been brought forward a week so as not to clash with the international break in early September.

And Coughlan believes his men will be nowhere near peak condition when they line up for kick-off against the Lilywhites.

It is still two weeks before their opening League Two fixture against Tranmere Rovers and Coughlan revealed he has used pre-season to ensure his team are ready for the visit of Rovers and the rescheduled cup fixture has thrown a spanner in his plans.


The Stags were beaten 3-0 by Rotherham in their opening pre-season friendly last Saturday.

“We are not ready for Preston,” said Coughlan.

“I think that’s clear, that’s plain, that’s obvious.

“We were obviously preparing for a September 12 start and we then get the information that our game against Preston is on September 5.

“So lo and behold all of a sudden the EFL have insisted on us playing tomorrow.

“We are nowhere near ready. I think only four or five of them have played 90 minutes so therefore I have got a squad of 12 or 14 players who have not had anywhere near 90 minutes.

“It’s not a nice scenario to be in. You are given a date, a timeline and then to bring that forward is running the risk of injury.

“It’s not ideal but we will get on with it, we’re adaptable and we’ll go across to Preston and give a good account of ourselves.

“We are a fit group of players, it’s just that match sharpness that we are missing so it’s advantage Preston.

“Yes they are a Championship team so I can see why the EFL want to look after them and not ourselves.”

Mansfield were in 21st spot in League Two last season before the Covid-19 pandemic brought a premature halt to the season with 10 games left to play.

Although well down the table, they were well clear of the danger zone when they played what turned out to be their final game of the 2019-20 campaign - a 2-1 win at Northampton Town on March 7.

Coughlan has been busy in the transfer market over the summer freshening up his squad. He has brought in 10 new players, mostly on free transfers and allowed several to leave.

“All in all we are in a decent place,” he said.

“We are building and have plenty of time between now and the start of the league season to build more.

“There will be one or two tweaks, but any manager will tell you that you are never pleased, you’re always wanting something more.”


Preston v Mansfield: Graham Coughlan upset about timing of cup tie

Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan says his team were "threatened with expulsion" if they did not bring their Carabao Cup first-round tie against Preston forward to this Saturday.

The game has been rearranged because of a number of North End players being called up for their national squads.

The EFL said the tie, originally set for 5 September, was moved to "protect the integrity of the competition".

It confirmed both clubs were involved in discussions about the rescheduling.

The match will be the Stags' first competitive fixture since 7 March after the League Two season was curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's ludicrous. We're three weeks out from being ready," Coughlan told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"It's running the risk of injury before a ball has been kicked. We're nowhere near ready to go.

"We've been forced into it with the or fines if we didn't co-operate and play against Preston."


Alex Neil Ready To Face Former Club

Preston North End manager Alex Neil will take on the last team he played for in England when his Lilywhites begin their Carabao Cup campaign this weekend.

The North End boss was signed by then Stags boss Keith Curle back in 2004 and won their player of the year in his one season at Field Mill, before heading back to his native Scotland.

And during that single season, he faced off against PNE in the same competition - the last meeting of the two teams, but that is long forgotten and he must now prepare his own team for the challenge of the League Two side, something he expects to be a very tough test.

So what does he know of his opponents this weekend? “We have seen the three games that they have played, so we have an understanding of how they will play and an understanding of what it will be like and they are going to be very competitive. They will be aggressive and they have some decent players as well.

“We are going to have to make sure we perform well and we will have to compete first and foremost.

“What the two games we have played will do, will make sure the players don’t underestimate anyone. They have to give the opposition the respect that it is due and make sure we go about our business in a professional manner.

“This isn’t going to be an easy game by any stretch; we are going to have to play well, be really up for it and we have to make sure that we win it.

“Every Mansfield player will want to show that they can compete in the Championship. They will want to show that they are as good as our players and what our players have, is an onus on them to show why they are playing in the Championship and why they are good players.

“We won’t be taking it lightly; we know we have got a tough game ahead; we know it is going to be a big challenge for us and we need to make sure that our attitude and how we apply ourselves is spot on.”

The game comes right in the middle of pre-season, so how has that changed his preparations for this competitive game?

“The difference is the consequences attached to the game,” he continued. “At this point we have only played two games, where we would normally to 45/45 and then would be considering building it up to 60 for the team, but the subs are reduced and we have eight players who are going to have to play 90 minutes plus, so it does change things.

“However, Mansfield are only a week ahead of us; they have only played an extra game, which will help them, and we have to use it as part of our pre-season preparations.

“We want to win the match and we want to get through to the next round of the cup. We are not taking it lightly - the result matters and we want to win.”

The manager revealed that goalkeeper Declan Rudd and full back Darnell Fisher would not be ready in time for the first round tie, but hoped that whoever was selected, would take their chance.

“It gives someone an opportunity. With any injury or suspension or if anybody gets dropped out, the guy taking his place gets an opportunity to show what he can do.

“For us it will be a good opportunity for someone to come in and see how well he can get on.

“I have got a team in my mind at the moment. We have done some work on it already and we will be ready for the match,” he added.