McEWAN AND JIM SMITH REACTION
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'No surrender', says Stags boss McEwan after TV home defeat
By Tim Morriss
DEFIANT Stags boss Billy McEwan said there would be no surrender from himself or the players after Thursday's TV defeat at home to Oxford left them rooted near the foot of the BSP table.
The Stags, beaten 3-1 by Oxford in front of the Setanta TV cameras, have now won just once in nine Conference matches and remain just two points outside the relegation zone.
There were some boos around a disenchanted Field Mill at the final whistle - and calls for the sacking of the manager, appointed by the new owners just a few months ago when they took over in the summer.
A run of just one win in eight matches before the match must have played a part in the lowest League crowd at Field Mill for 12 years, just 1,553 (109 from Oxford).
However, chairman Andy Perry publically backed his manager last week and there is no suggestion that McEwan's position is in danger.
And after the final whistle on Thursday, the proud Scotsman emerged to say: "Fans pay their money and they are entitled to their opinion. If they want to boo that is upto them, but that just makes me more determined to prove people wrong.
"I have got enough belief in my own ability and now it is time to work very hard on the training ground with the players to try to make them better and keep their concentration.
"I am not the only manager being booed at the minute, Arsene Wenger is getting booed, it is not nice but it is part of the job.
"It is very difficult for the club at the minute, but it was more difficult on the 4th July when we had just one player.
"It is a test at the moment, but my sleeves are rolled up and I am ready for the battle head-on. In the words of the famous William (Wallace), 'No Surrender'. We will not surrender . . . we will battle until we get it right. There are a lot of encouraging signs on the field, but individual mistakes are costing us.
"The players have got to accept that responsibility and be big and strong and say they have got to do something about it.
"They are an honest bunch of players and need everyone behind them.
"I knew it would be a difficult job when I took over and so it has proved to be.
"But nothing surprises me in football, it is a difficult job. I am something like the 12th manager in 16 years here, but once we get it right, they (the fans) will be singing my name, and that is what it is all about.
"When I took over an ex-manager said in the paper that whoever gets that job, Houdini couldn't do it! That's when I knew how tough it was going to be.
"It would have been easy for me to say I don't want the job, but that's the challenge. I want to prove to the fans that I can be as good a manager for the club as I was a player."
The Stags fell behind to an early goal, but levelled through a terrific Nathan Arnold free kick. However, after watching a shot cleared off the line at the start of the second half, the home side were then punished for defensive errors and finished well beaten.
McEwan added: "We gave away a goal, then we battled back and played ever so well and the fans were cheering. Some of our football in the first half was excellent, but we only seem to play in patches
"Their second goal came from our throw-in and that is what annoys me. We gave the ball aweay cheaply, then one ball down the middle . . .you can't legislate for that, it was poor defending.
"At the end of the day you can be the best coach, the best manager in the world, but you can't plan for anything like that.
"But remember we were playing against decent players. Constable is a £150,000 player, Guy is an experienced player and goalscorer, they are a handful for anyone . . . as good as anyone if not the best pairing of strikers in this league and they showed it at times and punished us severely.
"But at 1-1 the defining moment for me came when they cleared the ball off the line, that would have put us 2-1 up. If that went in we would be sitting here and celebrating. Then we go and give goals away cheaply . . . that is the story of our season so far, giving silly goals away while we have to work hard for our goals.
"Until we stop giving silly goals away we are always going to struggle."
When asked why he had substitited on loan midfielder Adnan Ahmed midway through the second half - a decision greeted by boos and chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' - McEwan added: "Ahmed was tired, it is not so long ago that we played with 10 men at Weymouth and had to work our socks off . . . that catches up with you on a heavy pitch. We wanted to go 4-4-2, go for it big time and gamble.
"We are getting punished for our mistakes . . . it is very cruel, but that's football, we have just got dust ourselves down and move on."
Billy McEwan audio interview from Radio Nottingham here
Smith praises clinical finishing
Oxford United manager Jim Smith has praised his forwards after they helped secure a vital 3-1 win at Mansfield.
Goals from James Constable, Jamie Guy and teenager Sam Deering earned the victory which has moved Oxford up to 11th in the Blue Square Premier table.
"Goals kill people off. We got two good goals and the third from young Sam was super one," said Smith
"You can't win games without scoring goals and they haven't been scoring, but they took their chances tonight."
The match was the first under Smith's caretaker management after the recent sacking of Darren Patterson.
Smith: Early goal key to beating Stags
Jim Smith felt scoring early was crucial to his Oxford side's eventual 3-1 victory at Mansfield.
It was the experienced manager's first game in charge as interim boss.
And he believes that United have enough about them to mount a play-off challenge.
"Scoring the early goal made all the difference, which is what we haven't been doing," said Smith.
"Having got that and then scored a second goal, it gave us the lift we needed to play well. We thoroughly deserved the three goals and the win.
"You are never in a false position whether you are at the top or the bottom, although we might have been a little higher but for injuries.
"I still think it is possible to reach the play-offs.
"I think it's possible for any team to achieve that.
"From our point of view we just have to be more consistent than we have been."
Lee backing Sinclair to shine at Mansfield
Jason Lee is convinced Mansfield co-striker Emile Sinclair has a bright future in the game - whether with the Stags or parent club Nottingham Forest.
The 20-year-old has made a significant impact since coming to Field Mill from the City Ground, with three goals in six Blue Square Premier games and another in the Setanta Shield.
Just as important has been his hard work when Mansfield have been out of possession and his ability to set up chances.
Lee believes it is Sinclair's turn of pace that makes him one to watch in the future.
"You can coach other things but you can't coach pace - and Emile has got that," he said.
"There's no reason why he can't do very well.
"He has played in a few different positions and formations since coming to Mansfield, but he has coped pretty well.
"Being a striker you are always keen to get on the scoresheet and he has managed that as well."
Sinclair linked up with the Stags in mid-October, scoring on debut in a league defeat to Wrexham.
He later agreed to a one-month loan extension, which is due to run out before the Weymouth home league game on December 20.
Lee added: "I'm sure the manager (Billy McEwan) would like to keep him but it depends on whether Forest want to recall him.
"It many be that they see Emile doing well and want to bring him back into their squad. Or they may feel it is more beneficial to keep him at Mansfield and let him develop.
"Whatever happens, it is all good experience for Emile."
Mcewan comes out fighting after stags defeat
Billy McEwan has vowed to follow in the footsteps of countryman William Wallace by giving his all and fighting to rejuvenate ailing Mansfield.Disappointed home fans booed their side off the pitch after last night's 3-1 defeat to Oxford.
But McEwan reiterated his determination to keep going with the Stags, who have now lost seven of their last nine league games and three of their last four at home.
He said: "The fans are entitled to their opinion, but it just makes me more determined to prove people wrong.
"I can't go out and put the ball in the back of the net and keep clean sheets for the players, but I can work very hard at getting it right."
"I am not the only manager getting booed - there is Arsene Wenger and others in the Premier league who are as well.
"For me it's a roll the sleeves up job, time to put the bayonets and helmets on and fight," he said.
"It's a test and I'm ready for the battle. In the words of a famous William, it's 'no surrender'.
"I know what I can do and my teams can do when it comes together and I will keep going until I get it right.
"A former manager (Billy Dearden) said Houdini couldn't have got the club out of trouble - that's when you know it's going to be tough.
"It would have been easy to say I didn't want it and that I could've gone somewhere else, but this is the challenge.
"I have run miles on that pitch for this club and I want to prove I can be just as good a manager here as a player."
McEwan was pleased with aspect of Mansfield's play, but knows they aren't playing well enough for long enough in games.
He also slammed Mansfield's defending, insisting individual mistakes are costing them dearly.
McEwan said: "Some of the football in the first half was excellent and the players are as disappointed as me.
"There were a lot of encouraging aspects, anyone can see we are playing good football in patches.
"But we have to produce that level of performance for longer, more consistently, and stop giving goals away. Once we stop shooting ourselves in the foot, then we will have a chance. That is the story of our season.
"Their first goal was poor marking, the second one came from our thrown in and was just one ball down the middle and the third goal was a mis-kick from our keeper but he shouldn't have been in that position in the first place.
"But I am not taking anything away from their front two, because I think they are as good as anything in this league."