SHIRTLIFF WANTS WIDE PLAYERS
Shirtliff Wants Wide Players
http://www.teamtalk.com , Tuesday 6th June 2006
Stags boss Peter Shirtliff will be focusing his search for new blood on wide players to supply the strikers......
Shirtliff focusing on key areas
Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff has revealed he will concentrate on strengthening his midfield and defensive options this summer.The Stags last week added John Mullins to their squad after the former Reading full-back agreed a two-year deal, but Shirtliff is still in the market for new faces and is targeting wide players along with a new goalkeeper to provide competition for Jason White.
Shirtliff "we need quality"
"I am happy with my strikers but we do need some wide players to supply them," Shirtliff told the Mansfield Chad. "But we really need to get some quality into the club. We have to stop conceding goals so easily.
"I will be working in pre-season on being tighter and defending a bit higher up the pitch. I'm also looking for much more dominance from a keeper in our 18-yard box."
Football Post (transcribed by carole)
Shirtliff out to end away day blues:
PETER Shirtliff feels turning around Mansfield's away form will be the key to a successful promotion drive next season.
The Stags ended their 2005-06 campaign with a 5-0 defeat against Cheltenham at Field Mill.
But while the Mansfield manager is pleased with his side's improvement under his leadership, he feels they still have a way to go.
The Stags' points total on their travels last season gave him the most cause for concern – they won only four of their 23 matches.
That is something he is looking to address over the summer ahead of the start of the new season on August 5.
“I have been very disappointed at times with our away form. We have been too easy to beat at times and I'm looking for a vast improvement,” said Shirtliff.
“We were too easy to beat at the start of the season. We were flimsy and defensively poor but we have improved in that department and got some good results particularly at home.
“But we can get better away from home and that is something we will be working hard on over the summer. To be honest I can't wait for pre-season so we can get the squad together again and get some hard work done.”
Mansfield began the season under Carlton Palmer and got off to a dismal start, winning just one game in the first nine.
The former England international resigned straight after the 2-0 defeat at Rochdale, which led to Shirtliff taking over in a caretaker capacity.
After the 1-1 draw at Macclesfield in late September, Mansfield slumped to the bottom of the Football League and a crisis loomed.
But the new boss began to turn things round and – after earning the job on a permanent basis – and guided them to mid-table security.
Shirtliff said “If you'd have told me when I took over that we would be more-or-less safe with three games to go – as we were – then I would have taken that. I did believe at onstage that we did have a chance of the play-offs and if we'd won our two games over Easter then it would have been a great chance.”
Now he hopes to take the Stags on to bigger and better things.
Football Post (transcribed by carole)
Young signing set to make real difference:
Johnny Mullins is the first new signing during the summer. Matt Halfpenny finds out what the Field Mill fans can expect from the former Reading player:
NEWS out of Field Mill about Mansfield's squad for next season may be at a premium, but the one piece of business Peter Shirtliff has concluded so far this summer could prove a good one.
The Stags snapped up promising defender Johnny Mullins on a two year deal last week after he was released by Premiership new boys Reading.
And though the average Mansfield fan probably knew very little about him – if they had ever heard of him at all – Mark Yates, boss at Kidderminster Harriers, certainly has.
Mullins, 20, has been out on loan at the Football Conference side for much of the last two seasons and has been a popular figure.
He was named player of the year at Kidderminster last season after making 29 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice.
He also impressed Yates with a string of mature displays – even if the rapid return to the Football League that the Harriers had hoped for failed to materialise.
The Hampstead-born player returned to the Madejski Stadium at the end of the season, but was quickly deemed surplus to requirements. That sparked interest from Harriers and, of course, the Stags, who persuaded Mullins to sign a two-year deal at Field Mill.
Yates was disappointed the player he has done so much to develop will not be around to help his team build a successful promotion push. But having played in the Football League himself as a no-nonsense midfielder – mainly with Cheltenham Town – he is convinced that the youngster has what it takes.
“Mansfield have got themselves a top player. He's a very good lad who is very enthusiastic and has good ability as well,” he said.
“He told me that he wanted to get back into the Football League after being released by Reading and I can understand that. I think he would have stayed had Mansfield not wanted him because we offered him the same sort of deal but he is ambitious and I appreciate why he has come to the decision he has.
“The only thing that did surprise me is that no-one from League One were prepared to take him, especially at the age he is at. We all hope that he goes on to do really well and I am confident that he can because he has everything in his game to make a success of it. I suppose the fact that he has been offered a two-year deal shows that Mansfield rate him highly and I think that is what Johnny wants at this stage in his career.”
Stags boss Peter Shirtliff has already indicated that he has brought in Mullins primarily as extra competition to Jake Buxton for the right-back slot.
But the player has also figured in the middle for Kidderminster and Yates insists he is comfortable in both roles. He said: “He can play right back or at centre half and does a good job at both. The only thing that counts against him in the middle is that he could do with an extra couple of inches in height (Mullins is 5ft 11ins), but he does make up for that by having a good leap.
“He reads the game really well and he is very quick – there are certainly not many people who beat him for pace. I would be happy playing him in the middle but it is up to Peter where he will prefer to play him.”
If right back is to be his position in an amber shirt, then it will be an interesting tussle with Buxton for a first-team berth.
Having not long since signed a new two-year contract himself, Buxton had his best season to date in a Mansfield shirt last season. After starting 2005-2006 as a fringe player, he made the right back position his own, injury aside, for the rest of the campaign.
Youth product Buxton is battling to be fully fit for when the Stags report back for pre-season training at the end of the month.
He injured his left big toe in the game at Barnet in April and has been receiving treatment ever since, but is hoping to make a speedy recovery.
However, the biggest threat to his place in the side, rather than that injury, could now be Mullins, particularly if the newcomer can use his pace to good effect by getting forward down the right flank.
Although Buxton is renowned for being a tough tackler and a good defender, he has been criticised for not getting forward enough to support the attack.
Shirtliff has been on record as saying he has been very impressed by Buxton's input since he became manager.
But there is no room for sentiment in football and the former Sheffield Wednesday player is likely to show none in situations such as this.
Mansfield's pre-season friendlies in July will offer a useful insight into how well Mullins is equipped to challenge for a first team slot. Both players will no doubt be given a chance to stake their claim in those matches and whoever plays the better could well start the season as first choice.
Buxton should definitely be worried – in Yates' estimation at any rate.
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