CHAD LATEST: STAGS FANS WARM TO CARLTON AT LAST
Stags fans warm to Carlton at last
CHAD, 06 April 2005
STAGS head for faltering promotion hopefuls Yeovil Town this Saturday (3pm) with new boss Carlton Palmer finally starting to win round the Field Mill faithful.
Saturday's win saw Stags finally win at home to build on the superb record of three wins and two draws in their last five away games and there were chants for Palmer for the first time.
It was also a fourth game unbeaten for Mansfield.
But Saturday also represented the end of the road for striker Colin Larkin as his three seasons of perpetual injury and illness saw Palmer finally call time on his Stags career (see story on page 135).
Palmer never had any doubts he would eventually get the fans on his side.
"Everywhere I have been in my career I have been vilified but I have always won them round and that's what I am doing here," he said.
"It's my job to win them round by doing a good job with the team and I was delighted with the lads on Saturday."
He and chairman Keith Haslam still had a rough ride from one or two fans at the Stags Supporters Association Fans' Forum held straight after Saturday's game.
But Palmer said: "I am all for these forums as it gives fans a chance to voice their opinions, even if you don't always agree with them.
"I know I can justify anything I do to them. Paul Holland and I are trying to do the best we can for this club.
"I am starting to smell a togetherness in that dressing room now and if you've got that you can achieve anything.
"These young lads are enjoying their football right now and I am very proud of the way they have gone about their business.
"You can't just wave a magic wand. But we are definitely moving in the right direction and things are falling into place."
He added: "I said to them at half-time on Saturday that we needed to up the tempo a bit.
"I know a few of the lads were feeling tired out there as I have been working them hard. But I thought we could score a few more and we probably should have done.
"I gave Rhys Day just one rollicking after the Oxford game and he did very well on Saturday while Alex Neil has given me no option but to consider offering him a new contract with the way he has played.
"Initially I thought he would be surplus to requirements but I have been impressed by the way he has got his head down and shown great commitment.
"He can provide cover for a variety of positions and, if my budget allows it, I would like to keep him here."
"I don't want to talk about the play-offs as I just want to finish the season strongly. But it would be interesting if we won at Yeovil!"
Palmer still has to make a final decision on whether or not to offer cancer victim Scott McNiven a new deal.
But the manager last week confirmed that Luke Dimech, back with the squad after playing the full 90 minutes in Malta's 3-0 World Cup defeat by Croatia in Zagreb last week, will be leaving the club.
"I won't sign a player now who can only play one position and Luke cannot play full back," said Palmer. "We already have Rhys Day, Dave Artell, Alex John-Baptiste and Jake Buxton so we have more than enough cover at centre half already.
"And Adam Eaton is still on our books which is expensive and gives me a problem if the lad can't play.
"The decision is nothing to do with Luke's ability as I think he has done very well in the circumstances."
Teenage midfielders Giles Coke and Callum Lloyd have caught the eye in the last few games and Palmer has offered both of them deals until the end of next season.
"Maybe I should have got them in sooner but I needed to give other players the chance to show me if I should keep them here," he said.
"I see both Callum and Giles as squad players next season, though if Giles carries on as he is doing then I can see him being a starter for us.
"The Adam Murray decision gets easier as the days go by, watching the hunger and desire these youngsters are showing me. We just need some experience in there now to help them along."
Palmer has also offered one-year deals to three youth team players - striker Danny Heron and midfielders Daniel Sleath and Anton Brown, who has had an injury-plagued scholarship, suffering a broken leg and also needing a plate fitted into a foot.
Decisions on Nathan Arnold (striker) and Dominic Jones (midfield) will be made at the end of the season but all the other scholars at the end of their time have been released.
Central defender Dave Artell's return has hit a setback - but Palmer insisted there was no hurry.
"Dave was in tears last week after going over on his ankle," he said.
"The big man is desperate to get back and has perhaps been trying too hard.
"But it should only set him back a couple of weeks. We want Dave back fully fit and it would be silly to rush him.
"We will get him 45 minutes of a game as soon as we can and take it from there.
Fellow long term injury victim Adam Eaton will find out today if he faces yet another operation as a three-year nightmare continues for the left back."I have spoken to a surgeon in Belgium who told me he thinks what Adam needs is the same groin operation that Steven Gerrard had," said Palmer.
"Gerrard was back playing within six weeks and that is what we are hoping will happen with Adam.
Midfielder Tom Curtis has had an operation on his troubled knee and the damage was not as bad as first feared.
Initially it looked like he would be out for three months but it seems he could now play for the club again this season.
Saturday's opponents Yeovil were cruising to automatic promotion not long back.
But, as the finishing line has come in sight, they have been hit by the promotion jitters .
The Glovers have won just two and drawn one of their last eight games, losing five times, to leave them in second spot and fourth-placed Scunthorpe United just three points behind them and breathing down their necks.
"It just shows that anyone in this league anyone can beat anyone else," said Palmer.
"All you need is some consistency and we have started to find that now."
Latest | April 2005