Securing safety is our ‘incentive’ - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 19th April 2021
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough wants to see his side ‘give every ounce they’ve got’ in tomorrow’s match against Scunthorpe United, as the Stags aim to secure their Sky Bet League Two status for next season.
Three points for the amber and blue against Scunthorpe United will see them mathematically safe from relegation, unless Grimsby Town secure victory at home to Morecambe.
The manager says the prospect of achieving safety with three games left to play is the ‘incentive’ for his players.
“That’s the incentive in a nutshell [to secure safety tomorrow]. As warm as it’s going to be and after a tough game on Saturday, we’ll be asking the players to give every ounce they’ve got on Tuesday night,” he told iFollow Stags.
“Scunthorpe are a good side. Neil [Cox, Scunthorpe manager] has done a great job getting them to where they are, as they looked a side that might’ve got dragged into it.
“They’re a good, solid side that can hurt you on the break. I’m sure he [Neil Cox] will be saying the same to his side [as they are just shy of 50 points as well].
“Everyone on the outside says we’re safe now, but when you’re actually in it, you don’t feel like that.
“Sets of freak results can happen in the last three or four games of the season, so we want to make sure that whatever happens elsewhere doesn’t affect us.
“We want to see what we saw on Saturday [on Tuesday], certainly in terms of no mistakes.
“I always fancy us to create chances and score, so don’t make any daft mistakes. Nobody means to make mistakes, but we need to minimise the opportunities to make them and not take chances.”
Reflecting on Saturday’s big win away at Stevenage, the boss described it as an ‘important’ victory.
“It was a brilliant win [against Stevenage] and a hugely important victory for us, as we try to get to that 50-point mark.
“It [win] has been coming for the last few weeks, we’ve been very close to those victories. Without making the silly mistakes that we’ve made, we would’ve had one or two more.
“It was nice not to make a mistake and nice to get a slight break for the goal. Then we looked after the lead in the second-half.
“With the other teams [around us] picking up points, it was important to keep our heads above water.
“With four games to go, we’re a point off that 50-point mark. We’re on a pretty good run, but we have to turn those draws into victories.”
There was also an injury update from the boss, with midfielder Stephen Quinn the only concern from Saturday ahead of Tuesday’s game.
“Stephen Quinn is the main one [injury concern]. He’s been suffering with an ankle problem, which is why he came off on Saturday.
“So he’ll be touch and go. We have a couple of knocks and niggles, but with the game being so important, we’ll try and get most of them out there.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags on youngsters he would like to give a game once the Stags are safe:
"Jamie Pardington, if we can we'd like to get him a game.
"Then there's James Clarke and Jaden Charles, two young full backs, who if we'd been in a better situation we'd probably have played before now."
Stags boss calling for crucial win to end worries
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 19th April 2021
Nigel Clough is urging his side to end relegation worries by beating visiting Scunthorpe United tomorrow night (7pm).
Stags 1-0 win at Stevenage on Saturday - their first victory in nine outings - took them to just a point shy of the 50-point target that is likely to achieve safety.
But, with bottom two Grimsby Town and Southend United still able to catch them, Clough wants to see victory just in case the bottom two suddenly produce a string of unlikely wins to reach 50 points themselves.
“I think 50 points should be enough to see us over the line. But those runs of silly results do happen in the last four or five games of a season,” he said.
“Grimsby have only lost one in about 15 games so they are more than capable of doing it.
“Southend have a new manager coming in. You never know.
“We need to take it out of their hands with a good result tomorrow night. Then we look after it ourselves.”
But Scunthorpe are not safe either and sit two points behind Mansfield with a game in hand, so Clough said his side could not afford complacency.
“Just like every League Two side if we are not on it and playing well, people can turn you over. Every single team in the league is like that this season,” he said.
“They will want to hit the 50-point mark too which is why it will be an interesting game.
“They lost 3-2 at Forest Green on Saturday but were well in the game and 2-1 up. I think they are a very good team, especially away from home. They are set up to be solid and break on you.”
The Stevenage win, achieved when the ball broke kindly in front of goal for Ryan Sweeney, was a huge boost to hopes of avoiding the relegation scrap.
“We've not quite done that yet but it was a big, big step towards it,” said Clough.
“Another good result against Scunthorpe should see us there. It was a vital win for us.
“It's been coming. I think we've been close to winning a game in the last few weeks.
“But it was nice not to make a mistake and get a small break for the goal. I think we just about deserved it.
“It's amazing when it happens the difference it makes to your result. “We can control the mistakes but not that bit of luck in the penalty area. The goalkeeper was solid and the back four were solid.”
Tomorrow is Mansfield's final scheduled midweek game of a gruelling campaign and Clough added: “We do like midweek games but just not so many of them.
“With so many in the last two or three months it did get a bit arduous to say the least.
“It's nice to have our last one and it's a good opportunity for us to go out and finish with a win.
“We want a last big effort. We still have three to go after this one.
“It would be nice to be able to have a look at one or two things in those last three games though we'd still be trying to win them without doubt.”
Stephen Quinn is a doubt with an ankle problem while Mansfield will also make late checks on the fitness of James Perch and Ollie Clarke.
Stags keeper Aidan Stone praised for bouncing back after error
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 19th April 2021
Nigel Clough has sung the praises of keeper Aidan Stone for his fine display in the 1-0 win at Stevenage on Saturday a week after his error cost Stags a goal in the 1-1 home draw with Newport.
“Aidan bounced back well from the error that cost us the goal the week previously which all players have to do,” he said after Stone was named Stags Man of the Match.
“You have to react to mistakes. It's all great when things are going well.
“But you have to bounce back and he was solid, made a couple of good saves and his kicking was good. It was nice to see him back on form along with the back four.
“Goalkeepers' mistakes are always highlighted - it is an exposed position.
“He knows he made a mistake the week before but on Saturday he made some good saves that kept us in the game.
“There was no question of me dropping him.”
Nigel Clough slams plans for new European Super League
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 19th April 2021
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has slammed the proposed breakway European Super League as 'dangerous', 'extremely selfish' and going against basic competition in the game.
The so-called 'Big Six' clubs of the Premier League have announced plans to join with other top European sides to form a new midweek competition from which they cannot be relegated.
But football's governing bodies are contemplating the exclusion of those clubs from domestic competitions and possibly even banning their players from representing their countries in major world and European tournaments.
It could spell the end of the game as it's been been known for many years and Clough today joined the widespread condemnation.
“I have only seen the headlines, not the full details, and the good thing is I don't think it's going to affect us,” he said.
“But I think it's a very dangerous development.
“When terms like 'breakaway' and clubs going off doing their own thing are used, usually it's for the benefit of those few clubs involved and to the detriment of everyone else in football.
“These top clubs view themselves as exclusive and almost as if they have a god-given right to be one of the best clubs in Europe and the world. But it goes against the competition side of it.
“In English football we have our stories like Wimbledon years ago going up through the leagues and even Burton a few years back going from non-league to the Championship.”
He added: “The principle of competition is that anyone can go up or go down. I think this goes against that principle.
“If you have no relegation then it doesn't matter if you are bottom, second from bottom or third from bottom, it doesn't make any difference to you.
“In this exclusive competition if you are not going to win it and you have five or six games to go, what are you playing for? They'll just send out the U23s or something.”
Clough hopes a compromise can be reached that proves acceptable to all.
“It needs a lot of looking at, a lot of discussion by the wider football community, rather than just the few clubs,” he said.
“You have to to engage everybody and try to find the best way forward.
“The powers of the governing bodies of football throughout the world are diminishing slightly. But they still hold significant powers about when players can play and they have to use them.”
The prospect of never drawing one of the top six clubs in the FA Cup and that magical life-saving payday those games can produce will be of concern to the clubs in the EFL and below
“Fans of teams outside that top six and even fans within that top six that are fair-minded will be concerned about it,” said Clough.
“It is an absolute lifeline for clubs to draw one of the top six. I know that from our experience at Burton when we drew Manchester United all those years ago.
“To take that away I think that is extremely selfish by the top six. I don't think the football fan base will be too accepting of it.
“I think even those top six clubs would want the opportunity to play those cup ties as well.
“They don't want to be just playing Juventus and AC Milan or whoever in this exclusive group. If you are a football supporter you love the cup games as well.
“It might only be once in five or 10 years that a League Two side will get that opportunity. When it does come along people remember it for years and years. It will be a tragedy if that is taken away from us.”
He continued: “This has been rumoured for quite a few years but it's always been batted back.
“To get this sort of thing through is still unlikely but it's concerning they are now discussing it at this level.
“How it affects everyone else further down the pyramid we'll have to wait and see.”
With England potentially being unable to call on its best players for a World Cup in future, former international Clough said: “These are the sort of knock-on effects that have to be seriously considered and discussed.
“This is the power these governing bodies hold and have to use them for the good of football.
“If they is saying you're not playing for your country if you play in that then I think that is for the benefit of football.”
Fans can only imagine how Nigel's outspoken late father Brian would have reacted.
“My dad would not even like the Champions League as it is now with the group stages. He loved it as a cup,” he said.
“Forest, famously, the first tie they got in it, they drew holders Liverpool in the first round. That doesn't happen now.
“The format has taken away an element of the cup mentality about it - who can you draw in the first round like the FA Cup third round? It was open.
“Even the format means, unless you have a bad time, you are almost guaranteed to get into the last 16.”