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Archived News from February 2011

28th February 2011 20:06


Craig Priest blog
An Evening With Duncan Russell, Paul Hall, Adam Murray & Paul Connor.

Well another meet the manager night passes us by; I always feel I should do a write up of these events after the first one really helped establish me as a writer a few years ago.


I'm not going to relay every question and answer, that's what mansfieldtown.net will do tomorrow with a splendid highlights package, and of course what my show will be doing too but on a smaller scale! (Shameless Plug)

Anyway, I expected it to be a much harsher crowd than it actually was in the Kevin bird suit tonight, Russ has taken a barrel load of criticism since his appointment as gaffer, I thought they'd be a lot more negative questions & opinions towards him than there actually was. Not for one minute am I slating anyone who has questioned his management skills, everyone's entitled to their opinion, who am I to judge if it's right or wrong. My point is that if we all come together as one unit, we can move forwards in a positive manor and bring success to our great beloved club. I hope this becomes clear as I progress with this piece tonight.

Russ didn't have it all plain sailing, but he did well to respond and not make any enemy's in the process, giving a positive & appreciative response to the potentially difficult questions.

Anyway, I was pleased with the whole outcome of the evening, Russ & Paul Hall seemed very positive people, Russ described himself as a 'people's person' and that certainly came across. His hunger for success and to turn the good ship Mansfield into clean smooth waters was clear for all to see. He spoke openly about how he likes to play football, encouraging players to pass a ball and create chances. He understood people's criticisms about the conceding of early goals and conceding goals from set pieces & bringing every player back to defend the set pieces also.

He highlighted that things don't change overnight, but desperately wished they could which for any stags fan is a good sign surely, a manager who admits things need to improve and that patience will need to be shown is surely better than a manager who sits there and diverts the blame onto his players- I shall mention no names!

A question was raised to the entire panel about what's the best ground they'd play at, whilst none of the panel sensibly said 'Field Mill' it's assistant boss Paul Halls answer that leads me onto my next encouraging point.

Hall answered Wembley, and stressed that both the management team & the players would do all they could to give the current set of players that same feeling & sense of achievement, hoping to create heroes and legends in the making, delivering the club a real day to remember. Mansfield are taking the FA Trophy seriously it seems, they will not under estimate Chasetown on Saturday afternoon and will hope to channel those Wembley & heroic status dreams into motivation, again a good thing.

Motivation, something that wasn't entirely mentioned on the night but something, for me at least, that was clear to see. Listening to the story's from both Paul Hall & Duncan Russell, it was clear too see they're more than capable of motivating the side ahead of big fixtures, and that when it matters that motivation will spur the stags on to their greatest victory to date. A question was raised about Russ & Paul seemingly be static on the touch line during game, perhaps highlighting a lack of motivation from the pair, however Paul Hall in particular was keen to put this record straight. His answer suggested a passion runs high within the dressing room and that despite the league position, Mansfield truly believe they can achieve both the playoffs and the FA Trophy final.

If passion in the dressing room is not enough to convince you, try passion throughout the ranks on the training ground, Russ was delighted to share with the audience the players willingness and desire to stay behind and do extra training, with players no longer being asked by the coaching staff to stay behind and work on certain aspects of the game but the coaching staff being begged by the players to let them stay behind and do more work. Russ told us of a time where he closed training and told the lads to head home, but turned around to see his instructions ignored to the point he & new fitness coach Steve had to take away all the footballs- a great sign of enthusiasm from our players.

Talking of enthusiasm and indeed development, Russ brought us up to speed with our younger players, full of praise for two players in particular, the first who's a tremendous talent and now a first team regular, Tom Naylor, the second Connor Higginson. Russ seemed delighted with the progress Higginson was making and stated he was the most enthusiastic youngster he'd ever known, also hinting that once certain aspects of his game had been worked on, he along with Niall O'Rafferty would get a chance to show what they can do. Russ mentioned the development of Ben Turner & also informed us of a 16 year old trailist who is developing leaps and bounds whilst training with the first team something Paul Connor & Adam Murray agreed with.

There was also talk about the chance in mood in the dressing room since the departure of the lesser twin, the new stags boss admitted there was a clear unhealthy split and certain people had to go, now they have the mood is positive and the clubs playing & management staff are focussed on moving forward.

I could go on for a while but I need to get some shut eye ahead of tomorrow's day, no doubt Russ will still have his doubters but a reminder he is only contracted until the end of the season, that won't change so the best thing to do now is show him the full support he deserves and together we can move in the right direction.

Russ, Paul Hall, Adam Murray & Paul Connor where all very open in their answers, again it's clear that both management & players are focussed on ironing out the creases & progressing in the right direction, so let's show them our support and make Mansfield great again.

Thanks for reading, more on tonight's events tomorrow (Friday) 8-9PM on takeover 106.9FM with the Takeover Football Phone In, please do tune in and get your points across.

Next up its Chasetown three games from Wembley the time to pull together for an on the field event is now, all together now COME ON YOU STAGS!



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