EVENING POST REPORT
WATKISS: I WON'T WALK AWAY
BY IAN WILKERSON
Evening Post, 16 September 2002
Mansfield Town boss Stuart Watkiss today vowed that he will not walk away from Field Mill after his side's latest humiliation at Oldham on Saturday.
Oldham's Dutch striker Clyde Wijnhard hit four goals as the Latics cruised to a 6-1 win.
Stags have now conceded 15 goals in their last three games and have a goal difference that is ten worse than any other team in the country.
Watkiss said: "I am not going to throw in the towel. It is a massive job we have got. We knew it was going to be a difficult season.
"The players are feeling sorry for themselves but they are not standing up and being counted. They are not being men in football terms and until they start proving they are men, it is going to be very difficult.
"I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability until I am told otherwise and that is the way we have got to go on.
"I had a chat with the chairman after the Derby game and we were quite optimistic that things were coming together but this was a real kick in the teeth."
Stags travel to Luton tomorrow with Watkiss wanting his players to stop feeling sorry for themselves and act like men.
He said: "Teams that play against us know they are going to get a chance and we just make it too easy for them.
"They are not having to do anything out of the ordinary to score against us. They don't need to put together seven or eight intricate passes to open us up.
"The players and everybody at the club have to look at themselves and ask if they are doing the right thing.
"I am convinced we got the tactics right and if they were wrong I would hold my hands up.
"It doesn't matter what formation you play. If you cannot defend balls that come into your box, if defenders cannot stay with runners and forwards' runs are not tracked by central defenders, you are going to be in trouble.
"We have got a lot of thinking to do and a lot of hard work."
WHERE DO STAGS GO FROM HERE?
12:00 - 16 September 2002
Oldham Athletic 6 v 1 Mansfield Town
Yet again, a final whistle shrills and players dressed all in yellow slump to the floor with their heads in their hands.
Yet again, we hear the chant of 'can we play you every week?' from the supporters of a team cruising to victory over the Stags.
And the voices crying out for a change of manager become more numerous and increasingly audible.
Where do Mansfield Town go from here?
It does not need the rambling of a wordsmith to explain the situation the Stags find themselves in.
It makes the role almost redundant, as all that is required is a quick look at the goals against column.
And, just when you think things cannot get any worse, the team is hit with another thunderbolt and we ask how they can recover?
Consistency is a word used all the time in football and represents a state that clubs rarely find themselves in.
But, at the moment, Stags are consistent because they are being consistently walloped.
A bill outside the ground advertising the programme said: Wijnhard - I will score goals.
And, if Mansfield continue their present form, he will not be the last opposition striker emerging from a match against the Stags, walking to his car with a match ball tucked under his arm.
With the scorelines not requiring any explanation (although there were times when Mansfield looked the part on Saturday, they scored a good goal and missed a good chance that would have made it 3-2) attentions are turning to what can be done.
Calls for the manager's head don't help. In Billy Dearden's second season, there were plenty telling him to get another job and within a year, the team had been promoted.
How can you judge an up-and-coming manager when he hasn't been given the opportunity to develop?
The scale of the defeats is, obviously shocking, but it is a difficult balancing act between blaming it on the players and the injury situation, which still sees Watkiss with ten players unavailable.
You cannot make endless excuses about the queue at the physio's door but you have to also say that it is time for the Stags players to stand up and be counted.
Many times last season, a number of them looked certain to move comfortably up in class but now they need to show they can do it.
Everyone has been shocked as to how different life in the Second Division is compared to last year and now the Stags enter their most important period of the season.
With their confidence already shot to pieces, they have to play Luton tomorrow, Cheltenham at home on Saturday and Northampton the following week and they are all teams who have not set the league alight so far this season.
The simple maths is that if Stags can beat the other teams in the bottom ten home and away, then they will do enough to stay up, regardless of their goal difference.
But it needs belief on the part of the players who, at the moment, seem too resigned to things not going their way and accepting the odd strange refereeing decision, like the questionable handball call that gave Oldham their first penalty, as being evidence of it 'not being their day.'
Saturday's result was heartbreaking for a lot of people but there needs to be a realisation on the part of everyone that we are all in this together.
We all need to rekindle that resolve and confidence that brought promotion in the first place and consign this thumping to history.
It is the time for everyone to show that Mansfield Town are not a laughing stock, for the players to demonstrate they do deserve the chance to ply their trade at a higher level and the fans to show they can do their bit.
If you can take the plaudits and the glamour of promotion, you have to be able to roll up your sleeves when it is not going your way as well.
It's becoming a difficult lesson.
Latest | September 2002