Shirtliff looking to climb table
By Chris Bevan
Mansfield's caretaker manager Peter Shirtliff hopes his side can repeat the form of their Carling Cup run as they look to climb the League Two table.
The Stags had beaten Southampton and Stoke before losing 3-2 to another Championship side Millwall in the third round on Tuesday.
Shirtliff told BBC Sport: "I am very happy with the spirit we showed.
"But we are back to the league now and we have got to repeat that performance level. We must keep improving."
Shirtliff, 44, has been at Field Mill since April, when then boss Carlton Palmer made him assistant manager.
He has been in caretaker charge since Palmer stepped down on 17 September - and has overseen an upturn in results - but admits he is still in the dark over his chances of keeping the job on a permanent basis.
"I should imagaine it will be resolved soon. I don't know anything at the moment - but, yes I am hopeful of getting it," Shirtliff added.
"I am very pleased with the players and how they have responded in my time as manager. Their work-rate and enthusiasm has been fantastic.
"We are near the bottom of the league because we did not win enough games early on in the season. That is a simple fact.
"We are there because we deserve to be there, but the squad is capable of getting higher."
Some managers might be tempted to sacrifice style for results in Shirtliff's predicament, but he has stuck to the tactics that brought him promotions as first-team coach at Leicester and Barnsley.
"I want the players to go out there and express themselves and enjoy the game," Shirtliff explained. "I am sure that is reflected in our performances.
"I want my teams to play football, but I want them to be responsible in how they do it, and do it in the right areas.
"I don't think there is a lot of difference between being a coach and being a manager. The difference as manager is that you pick the side and take more responsibility.
"But I approach the job as I see fit. The coaching is part and parcel of it, management is just a natural progression in my opinion."
Two resounding 4-0 wins against Shrewsbury and Barnet in their last two home games have given the Stags a boost, but Shirtliff is keen to improve their record on the road.
"We have to start picking up some points away from home, starting with Cheltenham on Saturday," he said.
"I have just noticed in one of the papers that it is 11 games since we had an away win - so we have to address that and start getting some away results."
Latest | October 2005