PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
STAGS FIGHTING FOR FUTURES
Evening Post, 15 December 2006
Peter Shirtliff has left his Mansfield players in no doubt that they are fighting for their futures at the club.
Starting tomorrow at Barnet, they have five games before the turn of the year to prove they should remain a part of his plans.
For some, however, you sense it may already be too late.
"You can't do anything until January in terms of changing things around," said Shirtliff. "Between now and January is an important period and if we can get some points on the board then I can assess what I think is required for the second half of the season."
There is little seasonal cheer at Field Mill with Shirtliff clearly frustrated with his young side's failure to reach their potential.
Sitting eight places off the foot of the table, Mansfield have won only one of their last seven games.
But the focus of Shirtliff's ire was not limited only to his playing staff.
Though at one moment questioning the character of certain players, he then expressed his frustration at the despondent attitude of the club's supporters.
"The season is a long way from over," he said. "We're not even halfway and it's doom and gloom - I can't believe it.
"I'm disappointed with the crowds - 2,100 against Swindon, 2,500 against Bury - and I think we've performed well at home this season.
"Let's have a reality check. We are doing okay. We are better than last year. We're certainly on course - in terms of points per game - to stay in the league.
"There's been a few disappointments this season, in terms of certain individual performances, but once they get back into that sort of shape and confidence, I'm sure we will be okay."
After the disappointment of Tuesday's FA Cup defeat at Doncaster, victory at Barnet could be crucial towards enticing the crowds over the festive season.
But having failed to score on their travels since the 3-2 victory against Macclesfield in October, Shirtliff knows there will have to be a sharp turnaround in form.
"We've got three out of the next four games away from home so we are going to have to start performing away," he said.
"It will be a hard game. It's a hard place to go. The pitch slopes and it is difficult to get your bearings on a sloping pitch.
The Mansfield players would do well to heed their manager's advice ahead of the Barnet game. If they don't, the message was clear. "You can't change a person's character," said Shirtliff. "What you can do is change the people."
Fairclough confident despite striker crisis
By Paul Wreyford, Barnet Times
Barnet manager Paul Fairclough insists the Bees still have options up front - even though they will be without four of their five strikers for the visit of Mansfield Town.
Liam Hatch picked up his fifth booking of the season in the 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday, 20 minutes after he had finally notched his first goal of the campaign. He must now serve a one-match suspension.
To make matters worse, strike partner Adam Birchall, currently on loan from Mansfield, will not be allowed to play against his former club. Jason Norville and Giuliano Grazioli are also both ruled out through injury.
But Fairclough believes their absence will give others the chance to prove what they can do.
Magno Vieira - the only available forward - is almost certain to play some part against the Stags.
Fairclough said: "He is desperate for a regular spot, so will be highly motivated. We have enough good players who can come in and do a job."
Midfielders Jason Puncheon and Dean Sinclair are further options, while the versatile Paul Warhurst played up front earlier in the season and may be used again as the target man.
The news on Grazioli and Norville is not good. Grazioli returned to training this week, but suffered a setback.
"He is not ready. He trained the other day, but did a little too much, so we had to calm him down for a couple of days."
Fairclough said Grazioli and Norville, because they had not played for so long, may need to go out on loan in order to get back their sharpness. However, Norville is at least two weeks away from a return to training.
It is not the best time to lose Hatch and Birchall, who both put in fine performances at Wycombe.
Both worked their socks off and Hatch got the goal he has been craving for.
Fairclough said: "I'm hoping that will help him. If you could give out goals for work-rate, Liam would be top scorer, but it doesn't work like that. He is the proverbial thorn in everyone's side - he's a nightmare to play against."
Shirtliff warns Stags players
CHAD website, 14 December 2006
PETER Shirtliff today warned players they were fighting for their futures at Barnet on Saturday (3pm).
The Mansfield Town manager's patience has run out with some of his charges and the January transfer window is looming large.
Stags have only won once away all season, not scored an away goal in 361 minutes of football and only won once in seven games.
But, in a tight league, Shirtliff stressed it was only December and, with so much still to play for, he wasn't giving up on success yet - and he is prepared to make big changes to achieve it.
"Some of my players are playing for their futures and I have made them very aware of that," he said.
"This season is still a long way from over and yet everything is doom and gloom - I can't believe it.
"I am disappointed with the crowds as I think we have performed well at home this season.
"We are doing okay - better than last year - and we are certainly on course, points per games, to stay in the League.
"We just need to get performing and get some points on the board to push on.
"There have been disappointments this season, no doubt about it. Certain individuals have not performed how they can and if they can get back to form and regain their confidence then we should be okay.
"I can't do anything now until January in terms of changing things. But this is an important time when we can get points on the board.
"Then I can assess what is required for the second half of the season and I already have certain things in mind. I hope I can put them into practice."
He added: "Three of our next four games are away and we are going to have to start performing away from home - it's as simple as that.
"It will be a hard game at Barnet as it can be hard to get your bearings on that sloping pitch."
The Londoners, who can overtake Mansfield with a win, have a crisis up front with only one available striker - Magno Vieira.
That will probably mean they will have to push veteran Paul Warhurst up front.
Stags must come out fighting at Barnet
CHAD website, 13 December 2006
MANSFIELD Town today began preparations for their trip to Barnet on Saturday following last night's 2-0 FA Cup exit at Doncaster Rovers.
The League One side scored in each half to extend their unbeaten run to 10 games and Stags boss Peter Shirtliff said: "We are capable of getting a result at Barnet on Saturday and we have to come out fighting.
"I couldn't fault the lads for effort at Doncaster but we just need to show a bit more quality in their box and in the final third.
"And we have got to be a lot meaner at the back as we concede goals far too easily.
"The bottom line is the players have got to start producing on the pitch - it is in them. You can work with them and train but you can't play for them.
"No doubt about it, the best side won. Doncaster are a quality side with some good players.
"But we worked hard and had a go. We did have one or two opportunities and maybe a ricochet might have gone our way or a bit of luck.
"But, when push came to shove, they were better in and around our box than we were in their's and they were also tighter at the back.
"They didn't give our forward the amount of space we gave their's
"I don't think Doncaster will say it was easy. They have had to work very hard on a difficult pitch and extend themselves to get the result.
"I am not too despondent about this result and I was quite encouraged by some of the performances.
"I hope the players don't get too down. One or two of them were very self-critical immedaietly after the game which I don't mind."
Mansfield's only new injury concern is over defender Jake Buxton who was complaining of hip pain when he came off at half-time last night.
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