FANS FORUM WITH PAUL COX - NOTES
NOTES FROM THE SSA FANS FORUM WITH PAUL COX, ADAM MURRAY, RICHARD COOPER, LINDON MEIKLE, ANTHONY HOWELL, SIMON MURPHY
1 Nov 2012
Notes by Darren Shaw, Stags Fans United
Comments are those made by Paul Cox except where otherwise stated
Disappointing start to season
Our away form has let us down. We have the second best home record but second worst away form. We need to sort out away form. We only picked up 11 points in November and December last season and we want to improve on that. We over achieved last season. We are working on a 3 year plan. We could have got to Wembley last season if we had had Matt Green available for the second leg against York City. The League is extremely tight. Luton and FGR have big wage bills. Even Tamworth have 33 players in their squad. We are in the chasing pack. There are a lot of teams chucking extra cash at the League this season because there is no Crawley or Fleetwood. There are around 10 teams who are chasing promotion. We are in a similar position to last season. We are disappointed with the start. You can feel the hunger for success from the stands but it does cause an anxiety with the players. Successful clubs are the clubs who stick together and come through the sticky patches the quickest. The drum made a big difference last season for the home games. We need to sort out our away form and get the monkey off our back. We have done nothing different this season to last season. We have missed key players in the spine of our team. Alan Marriott has been injured. Gary Roberts has missed games due to illness and injury. Adam Murray has been unavailable due to injury. Ross Dyer was injured in the first game. Matt Green missed three games due to being sent off.
Style of play
Training and tactics have not changed from last season. Last year a long ball from defence was made to look good by Ross Dyer. I like to play a direct style of football. I have been successful in my career by hitting the front man early and playing off the second ball. It worked last season and it can still work this season. We need to be judged at the end of the season. When I took over this club we were a mid table Conference club. We turned the team into a winning side. Our prime objective is to get us out of this League. Do the fans want promotion or entertainment?
Geohaghon and Riley
We wanted to sign them both but their agents were hawking them around looking for better deals. Riley was offered a deal but did not sign it.
Micky Moore was mentioned by Christine and she made the point that it had been Paul Cox who had decided to offer Micky Moore a one year contract instead of a two year contract. Paul Cox did not have the opportunity to answer this question because Christine then asked three or four more questions without pausing for breath and the discussion moved on to talking about Lindon Meikle and the style of play.
I have made mistakes with some of my signings. We have not replaced Ross Dyer because we cannot afford a replacement. Tolley and Hand are injured. Godfrey Poku has been sent out on loan to get experience. I did not have a fight with Pilkington. Pilkington himself admitted that he was not playing well. Nick Wright has been injured on and off. Ben Hutchinson has been playing well in the reserves. (There was then a discussion about the inconsistency between fans booing Matt Green being subbed and some fans now suggesting that he should be dropped in favour of Wright or Hutchinson).
I have had nothing to do with narrowing the pitch. (Andy J confirmed that Mez had decided to narrow the pitch a yard each side to protect the sprinkler system.)
Adam Murray confirmed that the players had had a bust up after the game. They had tried to stretch the game in the second half by playing with two wingers but players did not take responsibility for making the right passes. Therefore it may have been better to have left Rhead on and played a more direct game.
I make substitutions by making instinctive reactions. I did not make any subs against Lincoln as I thought we could still go on and win the game. I made a substitution against FGR and I was booed but it proved to be the right move as we won the game 1-0.
Poor Disciplinary Record
I cannot understand this. Matt Green was unfairly sent off at Ebbsfleet. We need to improve. Adam Murray admitted that he had tried to improve his own record for yellow cards.
Anthony Howell admitted that team spirit needed to improve. Players are playing with a little bit of fear. They need to improve their confidence. Players are moaning about little things. Lindon Meikle said that we needed to fall in love with each other as a team. That's what happened last season and team spirit improved massively. Ritchie Sutton is a passionate player. He works and trains hard. He kicks lumps out of Lindon in training and did a great job on the left with Lindon last season. The players need to win games and then be all over each other afterwards.
Supporters need to be more positive and create a better atmosphere. Opposition managers know that our fans will turn on us if they can frustrate us. We have to respect the opposition. We only drew 0-0 with Lincoln and fans were disappointed. If we had scored one goal then we could have scored four. Lincoln went to Wrexham the following week and won 4-1. Let's judge the team at the end of the season. We need to build a consistency at the club over two or three years. We are trying to build things off the pitch to build a good club
Changes to Squad/Signings
Losing some players was out of our hands as we created a high profile for some of our players. Some of our players were offered more money by other clubs but we have added some good players to our squad.
We were consistent for the second half of last system. Last season we were hard to beat away from home and very fluid at home. We have had lots of injuries this season and lost the spine of our side. What I want is everybody fit and a settled squad and then I can pick my best XI. We are six points off the play offs with a game in hand. There are over 90 points to play for. If anybody knows my sides in football then they know that my sides do not start well. I don't know why. I have tried to analyse it. But my teams do finish very strong and I expect a very strong finish from the boys this season. We need to get the right mindset as a football club. Our Chairman has been brilliant for this club. Everybody has to work together to achieve success.
Forest Green have the highest wage bill in the Conference. Their Chairman is worth around £20 million. They paid money for Vieira and gave him a three year contract. We are not the richest club in this League by a long way. Chucking lots of money at teams does not always work. Why have Luton not managed to obtain promotion from this League yet?
Losing to Dartford/Part Time Teams
Anthony Howell said that there is not a big gap between good part teams and full time teams. You have to have the right mental attitude otherwise you can get beat by part time teams. Paul Cox - Last season's Manager of the Season was Liam Watson at Southport who managed a part time team. I have inquired about certain part time players and been astounded by what they are being paid. One part time player is being paid £800 per week. Many part time teams train three times a week whereas full time teams only train four times when you take account of their day off.
Changing teams and formations
I have had to make more changes than necessary due to our poor away form and injuries. You have to try things as a manager. You have to try and rectify things and put them right especially our away form. You have to experiment or you may be stuck in a rut.
Style of Play
This long ball thing. All we require is that the first ball from the keeper is played long and then we ask the lads to win the second ball. We then aim to play from within the opposition half. Fans are welcome to watch us train. We never just practice hitting long balls. If we get the ball wide in good areas then we put the ball in the box as we try to score goals. The first ball from front to back is what we work on then we try and win the second ball. Players have to be braver to pass the ball.
No Plan B
Your players are your Plan B. That's why we added to the squad. Matt Rhead would not have started as many games if Ross Dyer had not been injured. We have not replaced him as finances do not allow it. We need to ship some players out to free up funds. Adam Murray said that the players have not been good enough this season including me. Players have to take responsibility for delivering better goods. Players have not performed to their maximum potential. Our best players should be putting in their best performances – 7,8,9 out of 10 on a regular basis. If this does not happen then tactics, formations, short ball, long ball do not matter.
4-4-2 or 4-4-3?
The system that got us success last season was 4-3-3.
Do the reserves play better football?
Adam Murray said it was much easier for players to play in the reserves when you are playing Under 22 and 21 players and in front of a 100 people. It's easy. My little one could do it. You are not playing under the same intense pressure. If I put 2,000-3,000 people ten yards away from fans doing their jobs and they abused you for 90 minutes would they perform to their best.
We have a decent wage bill. That's not saying Forest Green and Luton don't also have a decent wage bill. We don't have a divine right to win every game.
We have been asked by Paul and Tina Broughton to oversee the youth team for the immediate future. You need to discuss the reasons for this with Paul and Tina. We have just been asked to do a job.
Simon the Physio answered this question. Alan Marriott dislocated his shoulder at the top near his ball and socket.. He is 5 and a half weeks down the line. He will have a steroid injection this weekend. He may be training in a month or so but that is subject to setbacks. Jamie Hand has a cartilage tear. Ross Dyer is out all season. Nick Wright has knee issues. I can get players fit but that's a long way from match fit. That takes time. Pilkington has had back problems. Adam Murray's ankle is made out of paper mache.
How can we make the players braver with the ball?
Last season we created a siege mentality in the dressing room after the Alfreton game. It was us against the world. The majority of our fans are great but there are some we are never going to please. We need to get our heads down and achieve our goals. We need to be positive and ignore the negatives. We can use the negatives as a motivational apple. Adam Murray said it affects players in different ways. Lindon needs constant backing. I'm the opposite. If you have a go at me it urges me on to prove you wrong. Some players crumble and cannot handle pressure. That's the reason many players are playing at our level. They have the ability but they cannot handle the pressure.
Changing the Away Form
Adam Murray – We need to take small steps at a time. We have to go into away games determined not to get beat. Let's go for a 0-0 and then build from that. We have been a bit gung-ho in some away games. If we had kept Dartford to a 0-0 then that extra 5-10% we have as full time players could have kicked in after 80 minutes and we could have pinched a win.
Watching from the Stand or Touchline?
We have looked at the TV Gantry but we are a management team who try and head and kick every ball.
Squad Players Not Concentrating On Game
Adam Murray – Any football player whether Chelsea, Man Utd or our level will be looking at his phone and texting his missus after 50-60 minutes on Facebook or looking at Twitter or sending naked pictures to his girlfriend.
It's great to be back in full time football. I loved it at Forest and York City. I met the gaffer at Eastwood. There have been some great comments tonight and we need to find a good mix that suits us. There's been some up and down performances. The away form has not been brilliant and needs to improve. We have a lot of players in the reserves who are knocking on the door. I would say watch this space. We have had a few players step up to the mark in training and for me it could all kick in on Saturday.
It's tough for a manager to keep a large squad happy. All supporters will have their favourites. I have to make a honest decision. Ben Hutchison has emerged and he is a similar player. Some players need more time to bridge the gap and step up to the required standard. I have to make decisions based on what I see in training.
Matt Green is going through a bad period at the moment but he will come good. We have to get behind him and support him.
Aims For Season
I will be judged on where we finish at the end of the season. We have a good set of boys and I believe that they will produce. We over achieved last season. It generally takes at least three seasons to build a promotion winning team. I am aiming for promotion this season and I don't care how we get it. We have made mistakes this season and we have not been consistent enough but we are only six points off the play offs and if we make the play offs and win them then job done.
Further Signings etc
I want to improve the squad for the future and sign good promising players. Chris Clements will be a fabulous football player for this football club. Godfrey Poku is another one for the future. I had the chance to move in the summer but I want to put in the foundations for this football club so we can achieve success and sustain it in the future. We realise we are not doing as well as possible and we are not trying to swerve the issue. I think we have a better calibre of player this season but we do not have the same camaraderie. The squad is too big and we are not getting the same intimacy so that players will run through brick walls for each other. We are keeping tabs on Luke O'Neill and Kieron Freeman to see if we can bring them back on loan. Luke O'Neill has been back to watch us this season several times.
Lack of Progression
We are 16 games into a season and we have missed some A Class quality players. We need to be judged on our end product. I have to pick players on merit and on what I see in training. I am not happy with where we are at the moment but we are working to a three year plan. We are still aiming to win promotion this season.
Slough in FA Cup
It will be Slough's Cup Final and we have to respect them as opposition. Richard Cooper – We have to match them and then our quality will come through. We have to work hard every match whoever is the opposition
Meikle & Howell to join Cox at forum
Paul Cox is to attend a fans' forum, arranged by the Stags Supporters Association, this evening
The manager will be on the panel along with Lindon Meikle, Anthony Howell, player/assistant manager Adam Murray, coach Richard Cooper and physio Simon Murphy.
It will start at 7.30pm tonight (Thursday 01 November 2012), in our Kevin Bird Suite.
SSA members are admitted for free whilst non-members will be charged £2.
The SSA's annual general meeting will precede the event, starting at 7pm, for members only.
Dean Foulkes, Chairman of the SSA, will host the night's affairs
Latest | November 2012