TORQUAY PREVIEWS / MARSDEN MAY START
Cox: Honest and professional decisions to be made
mansfieldtown.net, 24th April 2014
Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox says he will make honest and professional decisions when it comes to discussing players’ futures in a few weeks time.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/cox-honest-and-professional-decisions-to-be-made-1507798.aspx#9yZcrIy8HH4SJosO.99
Our boss, who was speaking at his pre-match press meeting ahead of Saturday’s clash with Torquay United, insists that players will need to push themselves in our remaining two matches.
“I’ll just be professional and make honest, professional decisions on players that I feel we’re not going to go forward with,” said Cox.
“There have been people that I’ve spoken with probably throughout the season and highlighted tick boxes, but the onus is on making honest decisions.
“I know I’ve got a lot of honest players here, so it’s going to be tough with some of them, because I believe some of them have run through a brick wall for the club.”
He continued: “We don’t know where we’re going to finish yet [in the league], but if we finish mid-table up towards the top 10, then we finish there for a reason.
“Being hard on myself, I never want to celebrate mediocrity and that’s what we’ve finished this season. I’ve got to improve, got to strive and got to make some horrible decisions, but that’s what the chairman has employed me to do.
“There are some decisions that I’ve nearly made in my head, some decisions have been made and some decisions that are fifty-fifty at the minute.
“Players have got two games now to push themselves and prove that they want to be here and carry on the journey. Anything can happen in those two games.”
Meanwhile, our manager admits he is envious of the teams who are currently battling it out for automatic promotion and Play-Off positions in Sky Bet League Two.
Our slim hopes of achieving promotion came to an end during the Easter weekend, as we drew 1-1 away at Accrington Stanley, before losing 2-0 to Cheltenham Town three days later.
“I always say I’m on a path and I want to get to another point now,” said Cox. “They’ll be some people that throw in the towel, some people that think they’ve achieved something and some people that lose their hunger.
“There are a million and one personality traits that make up the personality of wanting to win and being a winner and I’m more hungry now than I’ve probably been at any point in my career.”
He continued: “I use the words ‘envious’ and ‘jealous’ of the teams that are in the Play-Offs.
“For the last two years, we’ve been in those positions and had everything to play for at the end of the season. Success has been a touching distance away and it annoys me that it’s not [happened] this season.
“Thinking with my head, I know that it’s our first season at this level. We’re up against some massive clubs, good managers and good players right throughout the league, and we’ve had to bite and scratch for everything we’ve got.
“But I want to improve. Things have got to be tweaked and be improved. If people think they’ve achieved and want to admire what we’ve done in the last three years, then so be it, but I’m now looking at the next three years.”
When asked if he had set any targets for the future, Cox added: “At this time now, I’m going to sit down with the chairman and the board and have a look really where the club wants to go.
“I just want to win every game as manager. We’ve had a good look at things this year, we’ve seen the highs and the lows, we’ve made some immense mistakes, but we’ve made some immense strides.
“If we can carry on the focus that we’ve shown this season as well as just tidying up on a few of the mistakes, then we should improve, but [football] is a funny game and I believe next season will be tougher than this one.
“If you look at the four clubs that will be coming down, they’re all be big clubs. There’ll also be a number of clubs in this league who improve their resources in terms of squad size and squad quality, so it’ll be even tougher.
“But the challenge is there. I don’t think I’d ever want to go into a season thinking that we’d arrived, because that’s when you start to get a little bit complacent.”
He added: “I’ll always set high standards and we want to raise the bar.”
Paul Cox's full interview will be available on Stags Player later today. To subscribe, click here.
Cox weighing up Stags retained list
Paul Cox will use Mansfield Town’s last two games to finalise his thoughts on his retained list and begin sitting down with players to discuss their futures next week.
Cox was upset over the lacklustre display in Monday’s 2-0 home defeat by Cheltenham and admits some of the players have come as far as they will be going with the club.
He also said he believed next season would be much tougher in League Two than the current campaign.
Cox said: “We have set such high standards here throughout the club and I just thought that wasn’t us on Monday. A lot of people paid a lot of hard-earned money to come and watch that and the least they deserved was for us to work hard.
“We let ourselves down in what would have been a very good game to win. I believe it was solely down to mindset. I am looking for a massive improvement this Saturday against Torquay.
“I do not like losing and I will always keep raising the bar higher.
“I think the season has been immense. It’s been a great season back in League Two. But you can never stand still in this game. You always have to look to improve.
“There will be some players here who throw in the towel, some who think they have achieved something and some who lose the hunger. There will be a million and one personal traits out there.
“But I am more hungry now than I have ever been in my career.
“I knew this season we would be up against some massive clubs with good managers and good players and we have had to bite and scratch for everything we have got.”
He added: “If you look at the bigger picture and we finish in the top 10, if someone had said that before the season started I know you would absolutely have torn their hand off.
“But If we do finish mid-table to top 10, it’s for a reason. Maybe I am being hard on myself but I never want to celebrate mediocrity.
“We are nowhere near where I want to be. If anyone wants to look back and admire what we have done the last three years then so be it. But I am looking at the next three years.
“I won’t set any silly targets for next season. I have got to sit down with the chairman and board and have a look at where the club wants to go.”
Cox knows it is not going to get any easier and added: “I believe next season will be even tougher than this one.
“The four clubs coming down will all be big clubs and a number of the clubs from this year will improve their resources, squad size and quality.
“So we have to raise the bar. I will be working extremely hard this summer and the players will too. We know what went wrong and where we have improved. I hope we can carry on this journey.
“I have not spoken to one player yet. I will probably get this Saturday out of the way and have a chat with my staff.
“I need to sit down with the chairman and see roughly where we are.
“I have been speaking to people throughout the season and have highlighted players that tick boxes.
“It will be down to players available, costings and the desire to improve.
“But I do owe it to my current players to sit down and have a chat whether it is good news or bad news.
“It was just about being professional and I will make honest, professional decisions on players that I feel I am not going to go forwards with.
“I have a lot of honest players here and it’s going to be tough with some of them as I believe some have run through a brick wall for this club. I have got to make some horrible decisions.
“Some I already have in my head, some are still 50-50. For those we have two games left for them to prove they still want to be here and carry on the journey.
“Sometimes honesty is a stark reminder about what’s happening but I would rather do that than shield things up.
“We have still got two League games to go and, whatever is said, players are still being paid to play and win football matches. It is the same as when people have to work two weeks in hand.”
Of the ‘tougher’ League Two that will lie ahead next season, Cox said he was particularly looking forward to locking horns once more with old Conference rivals Luton Town, who have just claimed the Stags’ championship trophy.
“Luton are a massive club and I would like to congratulate them on getting out of the Conference because it is a hard task to get out of it,” he said.
“There are a lot of big clubs in there. Knowing Luton as I do they won’t want to stop now and they will want to strengthen and go again.
“It is nice to have the rivalry with them. It is nice going own there as it is usually a hostile environment - but a good one - with a noisy atmosphere to play in.
“They will be two good games and I am looking forward to them.”
Duo could miss Torquay match
mansfieldtown.net, 24th April 2014
Boss awaiting scan results on Clements and Westlake
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/duo-could-miss-torquay-match-1507829.aspx#lpAWc0HUF0totCvb.99
Mansfield Town could be without creative playmaker Chris Clements and loanee full-back Darryl Westlake for Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two match against Torquay United.
Clements, 24, missed our Easter Monday defeat to Cheltenham Town due to a knee injury, whilst Westlake was substituted at half-time with a hamstring problem.
Both players had scans on their respective injuries yesterday, with results expected later today, and boss Paul Cox is keeping his fingers crossed for good news.
“They both went for scans yesterday, and we’ll get the feedback later today,” said our manager. “Hopefully, there’s nothing too seriously wrong with either of them, but I think both were a little bit of fatigue injuries.
“It’s been a long season for us and sometimes you get these niggles.
“I think the worst case scenario with Chris is that it’s a knee so that could be a bad one, but I’m hoping it’s just a tweak. With Darryl, I’m hoping it’s just a bit of tightness in there and not a pull.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Lewis Price is expected to again wear the gloves in Saturday’s encounter, as both Alan Marriott and Ian Deakin remain sidelined through injury.
Marsden on standby as Stags wait on duo’s fitness
chad.co.uk, 24 April 2014
Mansfield Town are waiting on the fitness of Chris Clements and Darryl Westlake before finalising a side to face strugglers Torquay United at One Call Stadium on Saturday.
And 19-year-old right back Liam Marsden could be drafted in for a shock first team debut.
Midfielder Clements missed out on Monday’s disappointing 2-0 home defeat by Cheltenham with a knee injury while wing back Westlake suffered a hamstring injury.
“Both went for scans yesterday and we are waiting for the feedback,” said manager Paul Cox.
“We are hoping they are nothing too serious and both are just down to a bit of fatigue.
“It has been a long, long season for us and you will sometimes get these little niggles or fatigue injuries. We will just have to wait and see what comes back and plan accordingly.
“With Lee Beevers out as well, Liam does come into the equation for a start and Jack Thomas has a chance of being in the 18 too.”
On-loan Crystal Palace keeper Lewis Price looks set to stay in the side for the rest of the season with Alan Marriott and Ian Deakin still not fit for a return.
Cox said: “I think Lewis will be in for the last two games. Our doctor ruled both keepers out for the season and, although Ian Deakin is back in light training today, I can’t see him being fit enough to play and Alan Marriott isn’t even training yet so I think his season is over.
“Lewis has been excellent. He has been good in the dressing room and you can tell the level he has played at with his professionalism.
“Credit to him, he has not played much football this season so we have probably seen him at his rustiest. We have enjoyed having him at the club.”
Torquay arrive knowing they have to win the game and hope results elsewhere go in their favour, currently sitting bottom, five points from safety with only two games to go.
They were expected to go down at Exeter City last weekend but dug in to pull off a 2-1 win.
“Torquay have shown remarkable desire,” said Cox. “It is such a strange league. I would have thought a lot of people would have written them off a couple of weeks ago. But they are going that extra yard at the minute.
“They will be a dangerous animal and if we needed a wake-up call from Monday then this is it. We know we have got to be on it.”
McGuire focussed on Torquay test
Midfielder Jamie McGuire believes our team has a point to prove following our lacklustre performance in a 2-0 defeat at home to Cheltenham Town on Easter Monday.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/mcguire-focussed-on-torquay-test-1508946.aspx#TYpIutr3SW0oCRPJ.99
Two goals from veteran attacker Jamie Cureton earned the Robins a comfortable success and McGuire admits our team didn’t perform to their usually high standards.
He said: “I’m not going to make any excuses - it was poor. It’s as simple as that and apologies go to the supporters.
“We’ve had games like that this year where we haven’t played the best, but we’ve just got to see games out. It was 0-0 at half-time, we weren’t playing the best and we came out and were poor again in the second half.
“We went out with the mindset to win a game, it was as simple as that, but we just never performed. It was poor and I’m not going to hide from that.
“As players, we were gutted after the game. There are two games left and we want to put it right and win them both, starting against Torquay in front of our own fans.”
The Gulls will arrive at One Call Stadium on Saturday, knowing that anything less than three points will mean they are relegated to the Conference Premier.
McGuire continued: “Torquay are fighting for their lives and we’ve got a massive say [in which teams could be relegated], but we’re not going to lie down.
“We want to finish on a high with two wins and finish as high as we can in the table. We’ve got to put things right on Saturday and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Reflecting on the last few months, the 30-year-old said: “Since the Rochdale game [on Boxing Day], when we had a word with ourselves because things just weren’t going right, we’ve been on a good run.
“Everyone thought we were fighting relegation, but we came away from that and put ourselves right in for the Play-Offs, but that ended on Monday.
He added: “I’m envious of the lads who are [playing for teams] in the top three and in the Play-Offs. I want to be there - every player does - and you want to be playing in those games.
“The lads had that last year through winning the league and playing Liverpool, and if we had put things right and stayed consistent this year, I think we had a big chance of being in the Play-Offs.
“That’s what I’ve kind of learned from this season. In games where you’re not playing good or bad, you’ve just got to see them out - Scunthorpe did that. They came here, weren’t the best, but were just consistent and won 2-0.”
A full interview with Jamie McGuire is now available on Stags Player. To subscribe, click here.
McGuire says sorry to Stags fans after Cheltenham flop
Jamie McGuire offered apologies to Mansfield Town fans who watched Monday’s poor 2-0 home surrender to Cheltenham Town and then vowed the side will make amends against relegation-haunted Torquay United tomorrow.
Stags’ seven game unbeaten run - and play-off hopes - were ended in disappointing fashion and the midfielder said: “I am not going to make any excuses, it was poor all round - simple as that. I apologise to the fans.
“We have had games like that this year when we haven’t played well, but you have to then see them out and we didn’t do that on Monday.
“We still had a chance of the play-offs and York were playing Bury. It was a big chance and you just never know in football. Anything can happen.
“We went out there with the mindset to win the game but we never performed. The players were gutted after the game.
“Now we want to try to put it right against Torquay in front of our home fans on Saturday.
“Torquay are fighting for their lives, but we have a massive say in it. They are not going to lie down. But we want to finish on a high with two wins to finish as high in the table as we can.
“Players here are fighting for a contract for next season.
“Since Rochdale away at Christmas we have been on a good run, got away from relegation and put ourselves in with a chance of the play-offs. Now we want to finish on a high and put on a show for the fans.”
McGuire, who is one of many Stags players out of contract this summer, knows there will be plenty of ins and outs on the playing staff as manager Paul Cox makes a renewed bid for the play-offs next season.
“I am envious of the top three and those in the play-offs,” he said. “I want to be there, every player does. You want to be on Sky Sports and playing in those big games.
“There are going to be changes of course this summer, there is at every clubs. That’s to be expected.
“We certainly need another goalscorer. Someone who is paid to put the ball in the back of the net and changes games for you.
“I play with my heart and I would love to stay here. But it is out of my hands, the same as the rest of the players who are out of contract.”
Stags star Clucas wants to get off ‘unlucky 13’ goals tally
Sam Clucas is desperate to get move on from his ‘unlucky 13’ goals tally, and end the season in the first team.
The youngster was the star turn of the first half of the season before injury ruled him out.
Then, after winning his place back in the side, he was ill for the trip to Northampton on 15th March and found himself sidelined as the team forged a good run until his recall on Monday.
“I can’t seem to get off ‘unlucky 13’ for goals. But I will push on for the Torquay game now and see what happens,” he said.
“I was ill on the bus on the way to Northampton and I can’t criticise the gaffer for not getting back in since as the team were winning games and getting points.
“I had to sit on the bench, trying to impress when I have come on in games.
“Everyone has been champing at the bit to get a game.”
Clucas was disappointed his first season at League level hadn’t ended in glory as Monday’s 2-0 home loss to Cheltenham killed off Stags’ play-off hopes.
Clucas said: “If we had got into the play-offs I think we would have got promoted. You look back at so many games when we should have got more points. We lost five points to Accrington in stoppage time which is ridiculous.
“But you can’t keep mulling over those games, you have to look forward.”
He said it had been an enjoyable first year at this level during which he has played on the wing, as a central striker and in the hole behind the strikers.
“I have played in a few different positions, I have moved back home which I’ve enjoyed and I have enjoyed playing for Mansfield and can’t wait for next year,” he smiled.
Clucas was also named in the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Year top 10 and added: “I didn’t know until someone tweeted me so I read up on it and it was a nice surprise. But this is a team game and I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the squad here.
“It has to be play-offs next season. I can’t say we want mid-table. Our target has to be automatic promotion. So if we set our sights on the play-offs and are in and around there, then we have a chance.”
Clucas now wants to end the season on a high as Stags face two games inn which they could feasibly relegate both Torquay and Bristol Rovers in the last two games.
“The play-offs are out of sight now but we do want to finish on a high.
“Torquay and Bristol Rovers will be big games as both are fighting to stay in the League,” he said.
“There is going to be a good atmosphere. We just want to push on and finish as high as we can.
“It is good for us that there is something at stake in the games. If teams are just playing out the season, it may feel like a reserve game or a pre-season friendly.
“We need to show Monday was just a blip. We have been playing well and got out of trouble, so everyone is very disappointed about Monday. It was just an off day. The whole team as a group had a poor game.”
Sam Clucas: I can't complain at being on Mansfield Town bench
Nottingham Post by Sarah Clapson
TOP scorer Sam Clucas says he can have few complaints about being left out of the Mansfield Town first XI in recent weeks.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Sam-Clucas-t-complain-Mansfield-Town-bench/story-21011497-detail/story.html?#ixzz2zsznkip0
But it has made him more determined to catch the eye of boss Paul Cox when he is given the nod from the bench.
The winger has certainly done that, quite often helping to turn a game in his team's favour when introduced as a substitute.
He was rewarded with his first start in more than a month on Monday, when the Stags were soundly beaten, 2-0, by Cheltenham Town.
And though the hosts put in a disappointing performance, Clucas hopes he has been able to hold down his place for tomorrow's visit of Torquay United.
"Everyone has been champing at the bit to get a game," he said.
"Me and Lindon (Meikle) have been on the bench and have been fortunate to get on the pitch - when we do, we just want to go out there and prove why we should be starting, and try to give it a good go.
"I can't criticise the gaffer because the team's been winning, so I wasn't expecting to start.
"I had to come on and try to impress in the games, hopefully I did that.
"I wanted to come in and score on Monday, and hopefully get a win, but that wasn't possible.
"I've just got to push on to Torquay now and see what happens there."
Clucas was the subject of some speculation in January. But he remained undistracted by the rumours and is looking forward to his second year at One Call Stadium.
"It (speculation) didn't really affect me because I had another season at Mansfield," said the 23-year-old.
"I'm enjoying my time here. It's not like I'm not enjoying it so I wanted to get out - I'm loving my time here.
"If anything happens then I'll just leave that to the people involved, but at the minute I'm just happy being here and enjoying playing for Mansfield.
"I think I've had a good season and am enjoying my time here.
"I'm looking forward to next year, I can't wait for it."
THE SURVIVAL MISSION
Posted: Thu 24 Apr 2014
Read more at http://www.torquayunited.com/news/article/the-survival-mission-1508770.aspx#fHCwGgyEDr7FVTk5.99
WE have been written off as relegation certainties for weeks, maybe even months, and yet the fight and belief at Plainmoor remains strong.
United travel to Mansfield on Saturday needing a win to keep the miracle dream alive and if other results go our way, the final home game with Wycombe could be a virtual shoot-out for Football League survival.
The Gulls are brimming with confidence after the win at fellow-strugglers and local rivals, Exeter City, on Monday, and manager Chris Hargreaves would love to pull off something extraordinary for everybody.
‘’It’s important for all the clubs in our area to stay up but if it doesn’t happen, I’m the man to take us back up,’’ he said.
‘’All we can do for now is make sure we win on Saturday. It would be great to still have a chance when Wycombe come here next week but if results don’t go our way, we know it’s out of our hands.
‘’We just have to win, look at the other results and if we’re still in with a shout, it’s all guns blazing against Wycombe. At this point, I’d snap your hand off for that opportunity.
‘’A lot of the other teams at the bottom are having a dip and Northampton, for example, have spent a lot of extra money to try and get out of it. They’ve not exactly been flying up the league and that’s because it’s not easy down the bottom.
‘’There are a couple having a wobble and we just need to make sure we win. Otherwise, it’s all irrelevant. I am aware of the consequences but it doesn’t weigh me down.
‘’I’m coaching a team to play football and it’s my responsibility to do well for [chairman] Thea Bristow and the Directors because they’ve put in a lot of money.’’
Latest | April 2014