`SCAPEGOAT` MACKENZIE IS AIMING TO IMPRESS
Evening Post, 12 December 2002
Mansfield Town midfielder Neil MacKenzie believes there were times he was made a scapegoat for some of the team's poor results this season by former boss Stuart Watkiss.
Mackenzie, who has made 16 starts so far this season, believes too much responsibility for Mansfield's bad form was laid at his door after he moved from Saturday's opponents Blackpool on a free transfer.
However, the 26-year-old now believes he has a clean start under new boss Keith Curle.
He said: "Sometimes I wasn't treated fairly by Watkiss and I think I was made a bit of a scapegoat at times.
"But I did work on things with him that I am more confident about, particularly the defensive side of my game and my tackling, but it is a new start now for everyone.
"We are confident that we are going to dig ourselves out of this mess."
MacKenzie will be pulling out all the stops on Saturday to prove to his former manager Steve McMahon he should not have been allowed to leave Blackpool.
MacKenzie left the Tangerines in the summer to join Stags on a free transfer and he feels he has a point to prove to the former Liverpool and England midfielder.
He made 14 league appearances for Blackpool last season after joining from Kidderminster Harriers and scored twice in their 4-0 victory in the LDV Vans Trophy at Field Mill last season.
He said: "My time at Blackpool was a bit patchy because I had a lot of injuries.
"I played my last game for them at the beginning of the year before I was out for a while with a hernia problem.
"But I don't think I was really given a chance to be honest.
"I loved my time up there and the lads were fantastic but, football wise, things didn't really go that well for me.
"I came back at the start of the season but I wasn't given a chance to show what I could do.
"I thought I was better than one or two people who managed to get in ahead of me and it was a bit unfair.
"Now, Saturday is my opportunity to prove him wrong, so I am determined to be at the top of my game."
He believes Curle has brought about a number of welcome changes at Field Mill already, which will help the team battle their way out of their relegation fight.
He said: "Curle has come with a few new ideas and things have certainly been more professional.
"We are six points adrift from safety and I suppose something needed to be done.
"Training has been a bit different because we have been concentrating on particular things.
"It is early days at the moment but, from what he has done in the space of a week, I have certainly been impressed and everyone has been given a fresh start.
"For instance, I thought Danny Bacon did really well on Saturday and I think he is a good player who was perhaps overlooked a little bit before. Maybe now he will get a chance.
"I haven't seen a lot of the gaffer playing but you don't get England caps if you are a bad player.
"He is certainly in good shape because he beat us in the running earlier in the week."