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15th September 2020 18:22

Manager ‘can’t wait’ for big kick-off
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 10th September 2020

Boss Graham Coughlan has called on his players to ‘signal their intent’ for the season in this Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two curtain-raiser at home to Tranmere Rovers.

The weekend will see the Stags play in their first league fixture since March - a 2-1 win away at now-Sky Bet League One outfit Northampton Town.

When asked about the new league campaign, ‘enthused’ and ‘excited’ were the words chosen by the boss ahead of Saturday’s 3pm kick-off.

“We’ve brought in a brand new squad and it [lockdown] has given us a lot of time to do our homework on the squad and get the players in,” he told iFollow Stags.

“I’ve missed football - I missed the club, I missed the players and I missed getting my teeth stuck into the job that was in hand.


“I’m really excited [for the league season]. The two games [against Preston and Man City under-21s] were tough opponents, but I’m really happy with my squad, individually and collectively.

“What we’ve put together, I’m really happy with the players, the character and the quality we’ve put together.

“Now it’s about coming together, working together and putting the final touches to it. I’m really enthused, excited and can’t wait to get going. All of the pre-season work is done now and I can’t wait for three o’clock on Saturday.

“Football doesn’t give you time - you have to hit the ground running. That will be my message to the players: go out and make a good first impression and signal your intent.

“For me, I have the problem of wanting to win every game and wanting to be the best I possibly can. I want that for the players and I want that for the club.

“Our time has to be Saturday and the month of September - we can’t afford to be waiting or hanging about for people to gel - I want that now.

“There is an excitement and a hunger about them [the squad] and I’m really looking forward to getting going.

“I have every confidence in this group. I have every confidence in the club, in the staff and we will be honest and competitive.”

The manager says that his side will need to be ‘honest’ and ‘hard-working’ to have the chance of success this term.

“We have good people here and a good structure and organisation to us. We’ll give it a go and we’ll be honest and hard-working,” he added.

“We’ve got a mountain to climb from where we were. We were 21st last season, so we have to pick ourselves up off the canvas.

“We have serious business ahead and a serious amount of work to get through, if we’re to stay away from that end of the table.

“Not a lot of clubs will have big squads this season so that will be an even keel. It will be a really competitive division.

“But I’m just concerned with ourselves rather than looking at anyone else. I’ll be talking to the players about having a winning mentality, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets.”

Reviewing Saturday’s opponents, Tranmere, Graham Coughlan said: “Tranmere are a big, strong team and will be tough opponents. I think they’ll always be there or thereabouts, irrespective of what division they’re in.

“They have some good players and it will be a test on Saturday. But we’ll meet every challenge and give it our best.”

There was also an injury update from the Stags’ chief: “We’re all good - apart from Joe [Riley], the pre-season has gone really, really well [in terms of injuries].

“The Joe Riley one hit me hard if I’m being honest with you. It hit him hard and it hit the dressing room hard.

“I believe we’re all fit and healthy and there’s a good feel about the club and the training ground.”

Graham Coughlan also confirmed the appointment of former Carlisle United strength and conditioning coach David Waldie, who has joined the coaching setup at One Call Stadium.

“We’ve brought a strength and conditioning coach in - I’m big on that. It will help not only with the first team and the under-21s, but the under-18s as well.

“David Waldie has come in with a military background and a strength and conditioning background.

“Anyone carrying any extra pounds, they’re in the right place with David. A massive part of strength and conditioning is injury prevention, so David will lead that.

“We’re trying to bring the football together and build. We’ve made massive strides off the pitch, so now it’s over to the players to make massive strides on the pitch.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the boss’ interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Thur 10 Sept 2020

Graham Coughlan told iFollow Stags:

“We’ve brought a strength and conditioning coach in (David Waldie), I’m big on that. It will help not only with the first team and the under-21s, but the under-18s as well, so it filters right through. I'm trying to link the whole football club, to get everyone on the same hymn sheet.

“David Waldie has come in with a military background and a strength and conditioning background.

“Anyone carrying any extra pounds, they’re in the right place with David. A massive part of strength and conditioning is injury prevention, so David will lead that.

“We’re trying to bring the football together and build. We’ve made massive strides off the pitch, so now it’s over to the players to make massive strides on the pitch.”


Coughlan told iFollow Stags:

"I'm trying to get Jamie McGuire on board as well, trying to finalise that with him, as first team coach. Just so there's a pathway even from a coach's perspective at the football club, from 18s, 21s and into the seniors. So we're trying to pull the football club together, trying to build."


‘Greedy’ Graham Coughlan wants Mansfield Town to win every game - beginning with Tranmere Rovers
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 10th September 2020

'Greedy' Graham Coughlan wants to win every League Two game his Mansfield Town side play this season - and the Stags boss is plotting to kick off with three points against Tranmere Rovers.

Although he admits his squad face a tough test at the One Call Stadium on Saturday against a team who were relegated from League One on points per game last term, the Town boss is looking to get the best out of his new-look squad.

"You want to hit then ground running," he explained.

"I'm trying to get that character and mentality across. They know I'm a bad loser, I don't like losing. They know I seek perfection."


But while victory would make Coughlan that much happier come Saturday night, he is shrewd enough to know seasons aren't defined by one game.

"Getting off to a good start, I'm not 100 per cent sure it's the be-all and end-all," he continued.

"Let me tell you, I want to get off to a good start, the fans do, the players do, we all do.

"But will we win the league in September? No, we won't. Will we make a statement in September? No, we won't.

"It's crawl, walk and then run. We are picking ourselves up from the canvas."

Indeed, Coughlan's first task is to ensure the Stags improve upon last season's 21st-place finish.

He said: "There was a lot of rebuilding to be done. Hopefully, that hard work, not only from myself but the owners John and Carloyn (Radford), David Sharpe (CEO), the ground staff and everybody across the stadium and training ground; we've all put a lot of hard work in to give the players the best platform and eliminate any excuses.

"I am greedy and I want to win every game. I want clean sheets, I want momentum and I'm pretty similar to the players - I want it yesterday.

"The fast start is not the be-all and end-all. We have ups and downs and it will be a rollercoaster across the season.

"The one thing I would say, I'd rather finish strong than start strong."


Tranmere Rovers pose 'massive challenge' for Mansfield Town - Graham Coughlan
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne

Graham Coughlan has warned his Mansfield Town squad they 'won't have an easy time' against a Tranmere Rovers side he believes are unlucky not to be playing in League One this season.

The two sides will kick off their league campaigns at the One Call Stadium tomorrow (KO 3pm).

Rovers were relegated on points per game after last season was brought to an early finish, but Coughlan believes they would have beaten the drop had the campaign been able to run its course.

"I think we'd all agree Tranmere had been dealt a hand which was really, really unlucky - really unfortunate," he said.


"I do believe they would have stayed in League One last season. You can call me obvious for that but they were on a good run. They were on the up and one or two other clubs in League One were on the slide."

While Town will show their guests the utmost respect, Coughlan knows his players will be up for the battle.

"They're a big, big club and it's a massive challenge, they will be there and thereabouts, we know that," he said.

"We know the challenge that lies ahead, but at the end of the day you want to play against the biggest and best and Tranmere are probably one of three or four bigger an better teams in this division.

"The two teams will be honest and hard working and will give their all, we're just hoping we can come out on top."

Coughlan is impressed by the quality in the Rovers squad, which he states have a strong blend of physicality and pace.

The Stags boss continued: "You come up against their two centre halves, big (Manny) Monthe and Peter Clarke you won't have an easy time.

"It's going to be physical. They've got a real good, strong squad, quality all over the park.

"Up front they've got some firepower, some real top-clas strikers in Stefan Payne and James Vaughan (Morgan) Ferrier.

"They've got a mixture of physicality and pace. They will be a strong team and it is a massive challenge. It's one of those fixtures you look for when the fixture list is out.

Coughlan may be excited at the prospect of claiming an impressive scalp, but he also 'enthused' about kicking off the league season with his newly-assembled squad.

"I'm really pleased if I'm being honest, what we've got in and how they fit in," Coughlan said, when asked about his side, which includes 10 summer arrivals.

"I'm pleased with the age, the value for money, all those variables, and the quality.

"I'm excited and I'm enthused by working with the lads every day on the training ground. I can see them growing. I'm very confident we can build and kick on."


Coughlan told Jake Brigstock of Notts TV (video available on iFollow Stags):

"Willem let himself down on a number of occasions, only once, I might add, with myself.

"He's obviously a player I liked and it did hurt me. I put my arm around him when I came through the door.

"That doesn't mean he's a bad player, because we let him go. He's a good player, he just needs to sort himself out.

"I felt he broke my trust. I felt he let himself, the changing room, and the football club down."

"I can't mess about with shenanigans and stupidity like that. The players are role models, they have a duty of care, they have roles and responsibilities.

"I just didn't feel it was harmonious for the changing room to bring Willem back in.

"It's not nice when you have to sit down with a 21 year old kid and go through his misdemeanours and try to get him on the straight and narrow.

"I failed. I didn't get him on the straight and narrow and that hurt me.

"His actions were well beyond what's expected of a Mansfield Town footballer.

"We wish him all the best and thank him for his efforts. We hope he's learned and goes on and re-patches his career.

"It's an unfortunate incident but I hope young footballers should learn from it."


Coughlan told Duncan Browne of chad.co.uk (video available on iFollow Stags):

(about the Man City U21 game)

"I have to be honest, there was still a pre-season feel on Monday and on Tuesday.

"The players were hurting after Tuesday night, they don't want to let anyone down. We're talking one or two moments, small margins and one or two errors.

"I'm not best pleased with results against Preston and Man City."


Graham Coughlan backs Mansfield Town’s ‘good bunch’ to bury last season’s frustrations
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne

Rebuilding and repairing Mansfield Town is Graham Coughlan's first priority this season.

After finishing 21st last campaign, the Stags boss is demanding much better from his first full season at the One Call Stadium.

"I'd be daft to start talking about what we can and can't do," he said when asked about his targets this season.

"You just don't know what's round the corner in football. We'll be honest, hard working and we'll be at them, fit and giving our all.


"We've got a really good bunch of lads. Who knows where that will take us? We will be giving it our all.

"There's no point saying we're going to do this, we're going to do that. There will be one or two dark horses in this division, every year somebody unexpected does well.

"We're just hoping we can do better than last year. Last year was relatively poor.

"We've a long way to go, we've got to remember the team finished 21st in the division. It wasn't a relegation fight, I'm 100 per cent sure it wasn't, I don't think we were ever in serious trouble.

"But we were down there and in a bad way. It's picking them up, getting everybody together and trying to build and repair this football club."

The Stags will kick off their League Two season by hosting Tranmere Rovers this afternoon (KO 3pm).

While the buzz of a new season is evident, the manager admits it won't feel the same without the fans there to get behind the team.

"I've been relatively lucky, the fans have been brilliant towards me. If the truth be known they've been excellent," Coughlan continued.

"They obviously can see what we're trying to do. They know my character, they know I won't leave them short and I'll do my damnedest for them.

"But it is very, very strange. My wife and kids say 'you must be looking forward to Saturday as there's no-one there to give you any stick'. But that's part and parcel of it.

"You can't beat football without crowds, football and crowds go together.

"Without the crowd it's really strange, surreal. As a player I always needed that edge to my game and I suppose there's players in the same scenario. They're a big part of this football club and they will be missed."


Midfielder ‘ready to go’ ahead of league opener
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 10th September 2020

Midfielder Ollie Clarke says he is ‘itching’ for the 2020/21 season to start, following a ‘long six months’ without competitive league football.

The Stags will begin their Sky Bet League Two campaign at home to Tranmere Rovers this Saturday, with Clarke hoping to feature after making his first competitive start for the amber and blue on Tuesday night, against Manchester City under-21s.

The 28-year-old says that recent game time - which included a stunning goal against Premier League Burnley in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the weekend - leaves him ‘ready to go’ for Saturday’s league clash.

“It’s been vital [for me to play in recent games],” he told iFollow Stags. “I obviously wanted to make the most of pre-season and hit the ground running, but that was hampered by a little injury.

“I’m glad to finally get out on the pitch and I’m feeling quite good, so just have to build on that now.

“I don’t feel too bad considering it’s been six months [since his last league game]. I’ve done a lot of work with the physio and I’ve been itching to get back out there.


“The result the other night [against Manchester City under-21s] wasn’t good enough and we know that we have to put that right on Saturday.

“I could’ve played more on Tuesday but it’s the first week of the season so didn’t want to burn myself out. I’m glad I got through it and I’m ready to push on now.

“Mentally, it’s been a long six months. But once I signed up here and committed to the move, I was ready to go as soon as possible.

“Once I got over that [small calf injury], I was itching for the season to start and now that we’re here, it’s all positive.”

Clarke was one of 11 new signings made by the Stags, and says that the new faces in the Mansfield camp are here with the aim of improving on past seasons.

“The club is very ambitious and you can tell that - the manager is driving it forward and the squad have had positive talks with the chairman [John Radford] and Carolyn [Radford].

“We’ve got a good squad here and a lot of new faces who want to try and do well. That’s what we want to do, try to improve on previous years and take this club one step further.

“It can take some time for us [new players] to get used to each other and for the manager to sort out his team, but once you get that time on the pitch together, you can adapt to how everyone wants to play.

“It might take a couple of games, but we know what our aim is and we want to try and build on what the team have done in previous years.

“Everyone is itching to get going and it’s a positive group of young lads. We all want to do well for ourselves and everyone is buying into the ideas of the manager. Everyone’s buzzing to get going.”

Having worked with current Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan at Bristol Rovers, Clarke described what the Mansfield manager expects from his players.

“We know what he [Graham Coughlan] likes is hard work and determination. Winning ugly is a massive factor because you’re not always going to go out and play well.

“You have to sometimes stick bodies on the line and I think we’ll be robust and hard to beat.

“A committed performance is what he expects - I remember at Bristol Rovers he got us up to fourth and we were flying at the time.

“We just need everyone to buy into his methods - it will be a really positive atmosphere and a great place to come and watch football.

There was also a message to the Mansfield fans from the midfielder: “Thanks [to the fans] for your support and for tuning in [to Stags’ matches on iFollow Stags] - we want you back in the stadium as soon as possible.

“Once that happens I hope that you can be here in your numbers to cheer us on and hopefully we’ll be in a good position.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Ollie’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Clarke told iFollow Stags:
"I don't know where that came from [rumours that he was on crutches], I don't know who's the source there. It was a tight calf initially, and then we got it scanned and it was a little tendon problem. It took a little bit of time to settle down but 3 weeks is nothing conpared to a long term knee injury which touch wood nothing like that happens.

"I think we need to be looking at the top half of the table and be in and around it at the end of the season, trying to compete."


‘Ambitious’ Mansfield Town want to kick off with a positive start against Tranmere Rovers, says Ollie Clarke
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne

Ollie Clarke described his move to Mansfield Town as a 'leap of faith' - and now he wants to land firmly on his feet as the League Two season kicks off tomorrow.

The midfielder - one of 10 new arrivals this summer - says there is plenty of ambition in the camp ahead of tomorrow's curtain raiser against Tranmere Rovers (KO 3pm).

"I think every time you come into a new season everyone wants to start off positively," Clarke said.

"I think we've got an ambitious group and ambitious manager. The club's ambitious, so we want to start off positively.


"There's a lot of new faces and I think everyone's ready to go and it'll be an exciting time."

After 11 years at home-town club Bristol Rovers, the 28-year-old turned down the offer of a new deal to follow former manager Graham Coughlan to the Stags.

"My family's from Bristol and it was a big decision, but at the end of the day I wanted to go and try something new," he added.

"At my age I wanted to experience something different. I thought if I didn't do it now it's probably not going to happen. I took a leap of faith."

Clarke is fit to face Tranmere at the One Call Stadium tomorrow after shrugging off a calf injury.

He faced Rovers twice last season with the Gas, winning 2-0 in Bristol in a bizarre contest which saw the visitors end the game with nine men, and drawing 0-0 in Birkenhead.

"They're a strong side," he said.

"They've got some good players. I know a couple of their lads, Payney (Stefan Payne) was at Bristol Rovers and I know a couple of other lads through friends.

"They've got a good squad and they've just come down, so they'll be looking to rectify what happened last season.

"We've just got to concentrate on ourselves. We've got the ability in our squad to go and have a good game and try to pick up an important win."


Jackson previews league opener at Mansfield


Tranmere manager Mike Jackson has insisted that team spirit will hold the key to a successful season in Sky Bet League Two this campaign.

Rovers’ 2020/21 league schedule gets underway at Mansfield Town on Saturday afternoon as Jackson goes in search of a first three points of his Tranmere tenure.

The Rovers’ boss has already experienced promotion from the fourth tier with the Club in 2018/19 and explained what will be required from the team to replicate this achievement.

Jackson said: “The biggest thing, for me, is that whenever I’ve ever had a team that has done well in League Two, there has been team spirit. That has always been the case.

“On top of that, you need that sprinkling of talent, you need to be good in both 18-yard boxes at this level and good at set-plays. That never changes. But the biggest thing for me is that team spirit. I know you can say that’s easy, but it’s not. That is the hardest thing to get and the easiest thing to lose. You need talented players within that to be able to bring you forward and people who can deal with setbacks as well, because you will get them along the way. You will get ups and downs, but can the group deal with those setbacks? That’s our job, collectively, to be able to do that in games.”

Cup matches versus Harrogate Town and Port Vale have provided the Tranmere manager with a clear indication of progress that has been made by the squad, while Saturday’s showdown with the Stags will act as another opportunity to execute training ground tactics.

“I’ve learned that it’s a squad that is working for each other, wants to improve all the time and be part of something. I know the areas where we need to improve, which have been well-documented,” expressed Jackson.

“We’ve had these last two games against Harrogate and Port Vale, and you see the intensity levels go up. You get a good feel for the group, fitness-wise, and the stuff you’ve been working on in training. They have been good games for us, in terms of: fitness, working with the group, working on things we need to improve at and things we’ve been doing well.”

On Saturday’s opponents, Jackson added: “There has been quite a bit of investment at Mansfield, they’ve been going for promotion the last couple of years. I know their manager very well; I played with him and know his strengths and weaknesses. We’re really looking forward to the game. We know the way they play; we’ve just got to make sure we do what we do and work from there constantly.”


Khan: There's more to come from me


Otis Khan is confident that he can become a key player for Tranmere Rovers this season, as the 25-year-old claimed there is ‘more to come’ from him as an individual.

Joining from Mansfield Town this summer, the attacking midfielder turned down interest from other Sky Bet League One and League Two sides before penning a one-year contract with Rovers.

Khan possesses a clear vision of what can be achieved with the Whites this campaign and is eager to play his part.

“I hope to have an impact on games, be reliable, get goals and assists for the team and create chances when I can,” he said. “I think there’s definitely more to come from me. The past two years didn’t go how I wanted it to, so I’m hoping to kick on now.

“We’ve got some really good players, who can affect the games. We’ve got that quality, so it’s just about making sure everyone sticks together and is on the same wavelength. Everyone wants to get back up that league. As long as we’re all together, there should be no problems.”

Saturday afternoon sees Tranmere travel to Mansfield for their opening League Two fixture, an occasion that Khan is relishing having spent two years with the Stags prior to his Prenton Park switch.

He said: “It was the first fixture I was looking for, and it has fallen on the first game of the season. It’s a bit strange as I played there quite a bit. It will feel even more different without the fans there, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready and the team is ready.

“I’m at Tranmere now and I want to get the three points. I’m not really going into the game hyped up about it. I know what I can do and our team can do. It’s about being calm and getting the job done.”