CLOUGH ON VALE GAME, STATISTICS & KEATON WARD
End the season on a high - boss
Boss Nigel Clough is aiming for a positive end to the season away at Port Vale this weekend, as a victory would mean four wins from the last five matches in the 2020/21 campaign.
The Stags travel to Vale Park on Saturday for their final clash of the campaign, with both sides clear of any relegation fears despite some concerns earlier in the season.
Although the two teams have successfully evaded relegation, boss Nigel Clough still wants his side to finish the season with a victory.
“We’ve won three of the last four and I thought we played well at Salford in the first-half in the defeat,” he told iFollow Stags.
“We want to go into the summer [on a high]. They [Port Vale] went on that unbelievable run, which is really difficult to do in this league. Now they find themselves halfway up the league.
“They will be one of those teams, similar to ourselves, thinking they can push for that top six or seven next year. They are one of those clubs that are putting everything in place [to succeed].
“We want to go into the game thinking we’re going to win it. We want to finish well. As a player, don’t think about injuries, just think about winning the game.”
The manager spoke of the fitness of skipper Ollie Clarke and defender Farrend Rawson ahead of this weekend’s clash.
“He [Clarke] has a chance,” he added. “It’s just whether we want to risk him, we don’t want him to do any more damage to the ankle.
“We want players to go into the break fit, so they can get cracking again when we start building up for pre-season.
“[It’s] similar [with Rawson]. He’s due to train today, but I’m very wary with head injuries, even in the middle of a season with things to play for. We don’t tend to take risks with these sorts of things.”
Reflecting on Stags’ most recent match, the 4-1 win over Oldham Athletic on Saturday, the manager wants to use the attacking intent shown by his charges as a template for next season.
“Oldham are a dangerous team as they’re the highest scorers in the league, but apart from that one error, we didn’t really give them a sniff,” he explained.
“We could’ve scored three in the first five or ten minutes, and that set the tone for the game. It was about our intent and how we went about it, that’s how we want to approach games at home.
“We’ve tried to do it in the vast majority of games [at home], even against the top sides. We don’t want to sit back at home.
“We want to take games to the opposition, put them on the back foot and keep them there.
“[We have] certainly more shots than the opposition in a lot of home games this season. So it’s about converting a bigger proportion of those chances.”
With the summer transfer window just around the corner, Nigel Clough provided an update on the club’s current activity in the market.
“We’re chasing [targets] and have made contact with them all. Nobody has turned us down flat yet.
“We’ll try to get two or three in early, I think that’s a good start. It also shows other potential signings that we mean business.
“If we can get six or eight in of our first choice [targets], we’ll be very happy with our squad. We’ll do our best to chase them as best we can.”
Renovation work on the One Call Stadium pitch is already under way ahead of next season; the boss explained his need for a good ‘surface,’ whilst also discussing the club’s pre-season plans.
“It’s been pretty obvious that we’ve had problems with it [pitch] this season. It’s great that the club are investing in it.
“We need the best playing surface that we can get - you’ve seen us trying to play football in the last few months.
“The surface will help that - it’s brilliant to see that even before the end of the season, the work has started.
“We have a [home] pre-season friendly sorted for around ten days before the start of the season, so it would be lovely to see a great pitch with some supporters back in the stadium.
“We’re just about done [with sorting the pre-season schedule]. We’re just waiting for confirmation on one or two.
“We have the off-season plan sorted, so the players are scheduled to have a couple of weeks off in May, then start building up in June, ready to come back early July.
“It would be nice to get any supporters in [during pre-season] - it will look a lot different with a brand new pitch and supporters back.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough finds the hard statistics that prove he needs more firepower
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 5th May 2021
With Mansfield Town riding high in the statistic charts on chances created, boss Nigel Clough admitted that finding players to put them away is a high priority this summer.
Stags beat Oldham Athletic 4-1 last weekend, but in that game and many before it, strings of chances have gone begging.
“It's something we have to improve on,” said Clough.
“Our analyst Matt Ash has been showing me some stuff where I think we're second in the overall shots in games in the league.
“I don't know how they work the expected goals out, but we are a top six team in that.
“Once again that backs up we need some goalscorers - and we need less mistakes at the back.
read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-boss-nigel-clough-finds-the-hard-statistics-that-prove-he-needs-more-firepower-3225710
“When I have been talking about improving in both penalty areas in the last few weeks it's not just an opinion, it's based on stats and facts as well.”
He added: “With the number of chances we've created, we don't convert enough and we are giving away far too many silly goals with bad mistakes at the back.
“It is what everyone can see with their eyes, but it's backed up by the fact we played well against Oldham again but should have won by more goals and more comfortably.
“We should not have that 15-20 minute spell in the second half when they got back into the game because of our mistake.
“We should have been out of sight in the first half and completely in control of the game. That's our aim next season.
“But in terms of how we want to play and how we want to set up and home and away, I think that was very much in evidence once again on Saturday.”
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough happy with progress but not points tally as season’s end arrives
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough said he was pleased with the progress the club has made in his six months at the helm as Stags head into the final game of the season at Port Vale tomorrow.
Although he wanted more points and safety from relegation achieved earlier, he was happy to see the more attacking style he wants starting to bear fruit.
And he admitted to be safe with a game to go was a long way from the perilous situation he inherited from previous manager Graham Coughlan.
“We are very pleased with the progress, just not the points return,” said Clough.
“The points return should have been greater, though 55 points did seem a very long way away in November when you're only on seven and the team haven't won in 14 games.
“If someone had said you'll have 55 with a game to go I think anyone would have snapped their hand off.
“Safety has always been a priority, but it's also been about trying to develop the style of play - a more attacking style of play - and trying to get the youngsters involved as well. It's been trying to do all those things while getting safe.
“So we have ticked a few boxes but it's very much early stages. It's only the start.
“It's only the very first stage. But it's a very important one surviving.”
At one stage there were faint hopes Mansfield might go on to challenge for a play-off spot, but that was soon gone after weather and Covid 19 saw momentum halted by several postponements.
“I think after we won the five games on the spin we were hoping to push on, but it was circumstances more than anything that prevented that,” said Clough.
“We had an enforced break with only one game in four weeks.
“We lost George Lapslie injured. We brought in Ollie Sarkic as a striker and we lost him - he's not been fit most of the time, which has been unlucky for him.
“We got a good point at Walsall first game back and went to Colchester where they scored with a deflection in the 90th minute.
“Then at home to Bolton we were 2-0 up with 11 minutes to go and lost.
“I think with those two results as well as the break and the injuries, the total of those things just hindered our progress.”
Will Keaton Ward remain a Stag next season?
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 5th May 2021
Mansfield Town will hold talks with midfielder Keaton Ward to determine if the youngster will remain at the club next season.
Having come through the Stags Academy, Ward, 20, moved on to Barnsley but returned to the One Call Stadium as a free agent as cover for the last two months of this season.
He finally made an impressive full debut against Oldham last weekend but manager Nigel Clough said: “We have not got round to talking to one or two of the youngsters as yet, so Keaton is still to be sorted.
“I am not sure what he wants to do in terms of playing every week.
read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/will-keaton-ward-remain-a-stag-next-season-3225748
“This is the thing with the youngsters - we are not in a position to offer him first team football every week.
“But there might be a possibility of him being part of the squad going forward.”
He added: “We plan the squad of about 17-18 of good, established professionals and then we sort of try to have four or five youngsters just outside of that with the first team squad.
“You always get 10 per cent injured so you're down to 16 anyway and then you dip into the youngsters.
“We will have this group that go out on loan but are with the first team every day, then rather than go to other clubs for loans we can use our own.”
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough delighed to sort contracts for three more youth players
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wednesday 5th May 2021
Having blooded several young players in recent weeks and signing three of the U18s on their first professional contracts this week, Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is delighted to see the club starting to produce its own once more.
Stags have had huge success with their youth policy in the past but have produced less players in recent years who have gone on to star for the club.
After sorting deals for 18-year-olds Ethan Hill, Nathan Caine and George Cooper, Clough said: “It's absolutely vital for most clubs, but especially clubs like ourselves to produce our own players.
“You can see some of the youngsters coming through now and getting in the first team in League Two.
read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-manager-nigel-clough-delighed-to-sort-contracts-for-three-more-youth-players-3225729
“It would be nice in the next 12 months if those three are doing the same.
“They will be between us and the Academy next season and will certainly be training with the first team some of the time as they have been this season and gaining experience that way.
“But it's great when you can take two or three from the U18s and put them on professional contracts.
“There has to be a degree of patience if they've not done it in the first year at 20/21.
“So it's taking a bit of time and there will be some loan moves involved where they go to lower leagues and get some experience like that. I think that's a very important part of their development.”
Mansfield Town to chase experience in the summer market
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas
As Nigel Clough prepares to chase his eight top summer signing targets, he vowed to bring in 'good, experienced players' and have enough to avoid the problems suffered earlier this year when injuries left his squad threadbare.
“I think we've got the nucleus of a very good squad,” he said.
“We are talking about bringing six to eight players in and that's not a massive overhaul.
“It's good we've tied quite a few of the younger players down that we want around the squad for next season.
“So I think six to eight is a good, healthy number for next season to move us forward.”
He added: “I think next season we will be better equipped to deal with things like that happened around January time.
“If things go against you with injuries I think the squad and the team will be better placed.”
On his eight targets, he said: “The vast majority will be experienced professionals.
“Throughout the league all the top teams have this core or nucleus of good, experienced pros. The best players in League Two this season have been those experienced players.
“It's because they have played at a higher level and generally stand out as do the right thing the majority of the time.
“We want good players more than anything. Not just big signings and flash signings, headline signings and players like that. We just want good, solid players and good value deals to take us forward.”
Clough has no plans to take a break after Saturday's final game of the campaign at Port Vale.
“Sorting the signings will be the priority,” he said. “So most of May and probably most of June will be taken up with chasing our targets.
“It will be varying stages. We will try to get one or two in quickly, maybe even three.
“But you have got to wait on play-offs, you've got to wait on other clubs and a lot of other things.
“Not many players will commit straight away. If they are out of contract, they want to see what's around which is understandable. We will put something on the table and try to persuade them from there.”
On keeping on-loan Burton Albion midfielder Stephen Quinn, he added: “David Sharpe (Mansfield's chief executive) has been onto it with his representative and they are currently in dialogue.”
Only one home friendly planned as Mansfield Town look after new pitch surface
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas
Mansfield Town will play just one home pre-season friendly this summer following the laying of an expensive new pitch at the One Call Stadium.
Work began this week on improving a surface that deteriorated badly through the Covid 19 pandemic.
“We have just the one pre-season home fixture pencilled in as we don't want to do too much on the new pitch,” said boss Nigel Clough.
“Then on 7th August we could be at home with supporters back in.
“When you are spending as much money as we are on the pitch there is no point in then putting two or three games on it pre-season and it not being right for 7th August.
“So we will just have the one about 10 days before the season starts.”
He continued: “There is a lot of optimism around the return of fans at the moment, which is great.
“Hopefully watching our recent games they will have an appetite for coming back.
“We have just about got our pre-season schedule sorted now and it will be announced hopefully next week.
“They will be mainly local games and so on away from home.
“We didn't want to take any chances with the pitch.”
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough calls on Stags to end the season on a high at Port Vale
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough wants to see his side end the season on a high in Saturday's final League Two game at Port Vale.
But he knows it will be a tough game against a Vale side that has been in magnificent form in recent weeks under new boss and ex-Stags star Darrell Clarke and he believes both clubs could be challenging for promotion next season.
“It would be nice to finish on a high,” said Clough.
“In the last three and a half games I think we have played well.
“In the first half of our last away game at Salford we were very good.
“So we want to try to maintain that sort of standard and try to play like we did at home away from home - that's the next stage.
“It shouldn't make too much difference, but it always does. But we want to set out with the same intent of taking the game to the opposition.
“We are trying to get the youngsters on the pitch for some part of games which is good for their experience. It will be a balancing act on Saturday.”
Port Vale's defeat at Grimsby last weekend ended a run of nine games unbeaten.
But Clarke and captain Tom Conlon have been shortlisted for the Sky Bet League Two Manager and Player of the Month for April after five wins and a draw from six April fixtures, keeping five clean sheets and conceding just a single goal.
Clough said: “They struggled initially when Darrell Clarke went in. Then, as is the way in this league, they won six or seven straight on the bounce.
“It just shows it takes a bit of time to get that impact.
“I think they will be one of those teams, similar to ourselves, who will be looking to challenge that top six/top seven next year.
“From the potential of what you see there I think they have got a good chance like ourselves.”
On the injury front, Clough added: “We hope Farrend Rawson should be back training today, Ollie Clarke the same, but whether we risk Farrend on Saturday or not, we'll see how he feels.
“With head injuries I am not inclined to take risks at the best of times, especially when it's last game of the season with relatively nothing to play for.”
Derby County can survive believes former boss Nigel Clough as Rams’ relegation showdown looms
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas
Mansfield Town's former Derby County boss Nigel Clough believes his old club can survive as the Rams prepare for tomorrow's mouthwatering Championship relegation showdown with rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
But anything could still happen with Rotherham United also in the equation and two of those three clubs facing League One football next season.
“I think Derby can do it,” said Clough.
“They go into it probably only needing a draw - and I think you'd always back yourself at home to avoid defeat. But I think it will be tight.
“Rotherham have given themselves a chance. If Rotherham go ahead it will be very interesting for and Derby and Sheffield Wednesday as then they are going to have to win. It will be a very interesting scenario.”
Clough said Derby were one of several big game clubs that have surprised many by their poor seasons.
“I am surprised to see Derby there with their resources. I don't think anyone expected them to be down there,” he said.
“But it's the same with Sheffield Wednesday, although they lost the six points (a six point deduction for financial irregularities) and would have been safe without that.
“So you have to look at bigger things, more than the football.
“But they should still have been able to withstand that six points deduction and still be safe.
“They are two very, very big clubs. You look at the bottom half of the Championship and there are some huge clubs down there who have been in and around relegation and it doesn't reflect too well on the running of their clubs.”
Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke met the local media ahead of this weekend's final game of the season, at home to Mansfield. Asking the questions were Phil Bowers, of BBC Radio Stoke, Mike Baggaley of The Sentinel and StokeonTrentLive and George Andrews of HitMix Radio.
FINALLY FROM ME, MOST PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER MANSFIELD EARLIER IN THE SEASON WAS A WATERSHED GAME, A 4-0 DEFEAT (After which John Askey lost his job). THIS GAME MIGHT BE A TEST OF HOW FAR THE TEAM HAS COME SINCE THAT DAY.
“Yes it maybe. But I am sure Mansfield wiIl be trying one or two different players out, I am trying one or two different players. I don’t think you can paper over the fact that it is a bit of a dead rubber game isn’t it?
“We want to be fighting in the top area of the division and fighting for things. We definitely want to win the game, it is also a last opportunity for one or two players to try to impress. It would be nice to finish on a high and to ‘ghost’ that performance. I wasn’t in the building then but it was obviously a sad day for the football club.”
JUST PICKING UP ON YOUR LAST ANSWER TO PHIL, DO YOU SEE THE MANSFIELD GAME AS A CHANCE TO EXPERIMENT WITH NEXT SEASON IN MIND?
“Yes, just have a look at one or two things, do you know what I mean. It has so difficult, hasn’t it, because I probably wanted to have a look at one or two things but we were on a fantastic run, we wanted to make history with records.
“There was always something, Mike, another clean sheet, another win, and the team was performing so well, it made the decision easy not to tinker with it.
“So, Saturday gives me an opportunity to look at one or two players that probably haven’t started a game for a while.”
Latest | May 2021