CORDEN READY TO LEAD PROMOTION CHALLENGE
Evening Post, 06 August 2003
Nothing splits opinion among supporters more than their feelings about those footballers categorised as "flair" players.
Some cannot stand them and question the role they perform for the team.
"Wait and see how they play on a wet Tuesday night at Carlisle."
Their contributions are often dismissed as "Fancy Dan" and, more often than not, they become the victim of the boo-boys when things are not going according to plan.
However, another school exists that thrives on the moments of inspiration these players can create and see such golden moments as an excuse to part with their money at the gate.
At Field Mill, Wayne Corden fits into this category perfectly. But, while he scored 13 goals last season, he is not prepared to let defenders take the blame for their Division Two demise.
"You can't just stand out on the wing and say it is all the defenders' fault," he said. "It's a team game and we all have to take some responsibility. You have to defend from the front and there are no excuses. We let too many goals in."
Corden, who was signed on a free transfer from Port Vale by Billy Dearden three years ago, is not comfortable in the Third Division. But after twisting and turning his way down the left wing last season and causing headaches to accomplished defenders, he is looking forward to terrorising more this term.
Many a Second Division full-back will be glad to see the back of him and the fact he can chip in with goals, including penalties, means Keith Curle should not have to rely solely upon his strikers.
Corden said: "I came into the season hoping to get double figures and I was pleased to get 13. But I have to build on that and will be looking for around the same number again.
"I am still on penalties and hopefully we will get a few. I don't have a system but I watch the keeper move and that gives me a side to aim at.
"Liam Lawrence got on the scoresheet about a dozen times as well, so there are goals in our midfield and it is a role we all have to play.
"We can't just leave it all up to the strikers. But my immediate aims are exactly the same as everyone else.
"We have all been working really hard during pre-season and I have to keep that level of work going in training and in matches to make sure I get in the team."
Had their defending been less generous, the Stags faithful could easily have been contemplating a local clash with Sheffield Wednesday this season, rather than reacquainting themselves with the directions to Doncaster.
But the time for ifs and buts is over. All the summer contemplation about where it all went wrong is now behind them. Stags have no option but to brush themselves down and do what they managed two seasons ago - drag themselves out of the basement.
And there is a feeling around north Nottinghamshire that they are well equipped to do just that. Such positivity is certainly thriving around the Stags' Forest Town Welfare training ground and Corden believes the recent 2-1 victory over Manchester City was just the kind of boost Curle's men needed.
"At the moment, everyone is looking sharp and we did very well against Manchester City. Obviously they have got some good players and you have to take confidence from a result like that," he said.
"The performance was good and we kept the ball well, so that augurs well. When you get that confidence, it helps you go out and play a bit and our strength is getting forward and causing problems for other teams.
"Relegation is a horrible thing and there were times in the summer when I sat and thought about why we went down.
"I thought about it quite a bit, but we conceded too many goals and we were letting in too many late on, so that is something we have to make sure doesn't happen again."
The 27-year-old has enjoyed the new training methods and facilities Stags now have at their disposal. That, the winger believes, gives the club a more professional feel and he says it can only help the cause.
"Training has been very good and what I like about it is the variety. The change has been brilliant because the gaffer is trying to do things to the standards he had when he was a player."
Despite having an increased level of expectation, Corden says the team cannot be complacent when they begin their campaign at Kidderminster on Saturday.
He is well aware that, after a personally successful season, more will be expected now the Stags are back in the basement. And he doesn't intend to rest on his laurels.
"I suppose that, going down a division, we are going to find we are not getting punished as much for the little mistakes that ended up costing us so dearly last season," he said.
"But that is no excuse. We have to get off to a good start and I think the first five games will be very important.
"We have got to get three wins from those matches to really give ourselves a chance. The key will be positive thinking and there is plenty of that around the club at the moment.
"We don't want to be in Division Three. We all want to get promotion and we all believe we can do it.
"The personnel has changed since we last went up. We had Chris Greenacre scoring plenty of goals then. But Iyseden (Christie) came to the club and scored plenty last season and Colin (Larkin) has been looking very sharp in pre-season, so I'm sure we can do it."
And, should the strikers manage that, it will probably be Corden supplying the ammunition - and no one will be in any doubt about the value of his contribution.
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