COUGHLAN ON COVID TESTING & PREVIEWS EXETER GAME
Squad will grow and evolve in forthcoming games - manager
mansfieldtown.net, Thur 24 Sep 2020
Graham Coughlan is looking forward to seeing how his side will evolve and grow in the forthcoming matches, the Stags’ boss said at a news conference today.
The Mansfield manager, though furious after seeing the Stags let slip a two goal advantage at Leyton Orient last Saturday, re-emphasised the qualities of his new-look squad in a virtual interview ahead of this Saturday’s home match against Exeter City.
Stags’ charges head into this weekend’s game following the return of a complete set of negative tests for COVID-19.
Tests were conducted earlier this week after last weekend’s hosts, Leyton Orient, confirmed ‘a number of its players had tested positive for COVID-19’, earlier this week.
Stags’ training was disrupted when the news was received, the manager revealed.
“It was a worrying period for us,” said the Stags’ chief.
“If the truth be known, we had to call a halt to training [when we received the news]. We trained for about 45-50 minutes. Our heads were elsewhere.
“As soon as the tests came back (negative) we could reset and re-focus and get going from there.”
Stags continue to adhere strictly to COVID-19 measures, with the manager reserving special praise for head physiotherapist Thomas Whittamore who is leading the club’s protection procedure.
“We’re still following protocols, with two-metre distancing. Everything that we need to do, we’re doing.
“I must take my hat off to the club and the staff and in particular Tom Whittamore, our head physio, who has led the COVID-19 protocol, liaising with the EFL through the whole process. He’s handled it expertly and deserves a pat on the back from me and from the players. He has kept us out of harms’ way and has structured the training ground to be as safe as possible.”
Highlighting his players’ qualities ahead of this weekend’s clash at home to Exeter City, Graham said: “I was still angry on Monday [after the Orient 2-2 draw] but I came into work and this group of lads don’t half pick you up. They don’t half make you feel to trust and believe in them.
“The way they work from Monday to Friday and the performances they’ve given us over the last two games gives me great hope and faith in this group.
“They’ve been absolutely brilliant. I can’t overemphasise how enjoyable it is working with them, how honest and hard-working they are.
“But, and I’ll always have ‘a but’, we want to win football matches. They were down in the dumps and angry, but that’s football. Live and learn with it. Deal with it and let’s move on.
“The way they reacted and trained today was different class. They know what we want and what we’re looking for.
“We’re in a good place. The Town is vibrant as well and we aim to keep inflating that balloon.
“I’m quite looking forward to the next couple of weeks to see us evolve, grow and build on what we’ve done.”
Stags face an Exeter outfit this weekend who have drawn one and lost one from their opening two fixtures.
“Exeter are a very good technical team,” said the manager.
“They have some good and dangerous players. They have been League Two play-off contenders for most of their League Two status.
“They’re a very high calibre opposition. They will be good, they will create and take chances. They give little up at the other end; albeit they got beat last week 2-0 [against Port Vale], which is a rarity for them.
“They’ll come here angry, hurt and will be a dangerous animal. But I’m very confident in our group, our tactics and the way we work.
“It’ll be a stern test, a really tough one for us, but we’re here to play against the best. Exeter will probably be up there again at the end of the season, that’ll come as no surprise. It’ll be a good early test for us.”
Meanwhile, striker Danny Rose has returned to training this week.
“His first day out was on Monday. We got an extra session into him on Monday so he had a ‘double hit’. Training wasn’t great for us on Tuesday, given the circumstances. He trained with us today (Thursday) so that’s a couple of training sessions under his belt.
“Touch wood, hopefully he’ll have come through his third session today okay and there’s no reaction this evening and we’ll see him in in the morning. We’ll get some more training time into him tomorrow.”
On iFollow Stags, the manager ended his news conference stating that he and the players are missing the presence of our supporters inside football stadia.
“It ain’t the same. I don’t care what anyone says.
“It ain’t the same walking out on a home or away game without the fans. I hope they’re following us on the iPlayer [iFollow Stags].
“I hope they’re enjoying what they’re seeing, apart from the eight minutes of madness at Orient last Saturday.
“I hope they feel as buoyant as me and I hope the new players are making an impression on them.
“We are missing them. Who knows, but I said it after Tranmere, could they have ‘forced’ the ball into the net and could they have ‘kept the ball out of the net’? It’s that extra one, two percent that the fans give you; they push you and drive you on.
“We’re not the only one missing the fans, every club will be. But they make a difference, let nobody tell you any different.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the boss’ interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow now.
Graham Coughlan told Jake Garner of BBC Radio Nottingham, video available on iFollow Stags, Thur 24 Sep 2020:
Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard the news (about the positive COVID tests of Leyton Orient)?
Coughlan: "You don't want me to tell you that on camera do you?!?
"To put myself, my players, my football club at risk like that, was downright stupidity. It was shocking. I'll let the authorities deal with that. It's not on.
"They should have liaised with us and the football league, they should have informed us of sickness and what was going on. And the fact is they hadn't.
"I dare say the authorities, be it the football league or the Government, will look on that with a very dim view.
"Had we known, we wouldn't have played, I wouldn't have put my players through that. But we weren't given any information, they weren't transparent with us.
"To blatantly not inform Mansfield Town Football club, to blatantly not inform the EFL, is negligent.
"I didn't enjoy going home to see my own family on Monday evening because I was very worried.
"One or two members of staff and players stayed away from their families in hotels until we got the test results back.
"We should not have been put in that situation.
"It was a massive release of tension to get the results on Wednesday. It was a worrying time. And I was, for a second time, angry."
Mansfield Town boss knows 'high-calibre' Exeter City will offer a stern test
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill
Graham Coughlan expects a tough test against Exeter City on Saturday.
Mansfield head into the game against last season’s beaten play-off finalists aiming for their first win of the campaign.
But Couglan knows the Grecians will present a stiff challenge as they look to finally break their play-off hoodoo.
“Exeter don’t change as a club, they are what they are,” he said.
“They are a good team who move the ball well and have dangerous players.
“They are play-off contenders. They seem to get there every season so they are a high calibre opposition.”
Exeter were beaten 2-0 in their last outing against Port Vale, while Stags have two draws to their name this season.
City’s loss leaves Coughlan cautioning his troops against facing a wounded animal.
“They will be good and create chances, they give little up at the other end and will come here as a dangerous animal.”he said.
“It is a stern test and a tough one for us. We are here to play against the best and test ourselves against the best
“They will be up there at the end of the season and we are raring to go.”
Danny Rose has trained through the week and could be in contention for selection.
Aside from Joe Riley, Mansfield are reporting a clean bill of health.
Mansfield Town boss confident building blocks are being put in place
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill
Stags boss Graham Coughlan is confident his side are putting the blocks in place to progress.
Mansfield are still waiting for their first win of the season ahead of tomorrow’s home match with Exeter City.
But the Stags chief feels his side are in a good position to kick on up the table.
“We are building and I am in a good place with this bunch of lads,” he said.
“We all want to win football matches and we were all down in the dumps after the Orient game.
“That is football, you have to live and learn and move on from it.
“The lads don’t half put a smile back on your face. I was fuming on Monday morning but the lads don’t half pick you up.
“I trust them and the way they go about their performance Monday to Friday and in our two games gives me great hope and faith in the group.
“I can’t over emphasise how enjoyable working with them is and how hard working they are.”
Coughlan is also taking plenty of positives out of the 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient despite two points being chucked away at the death.
“We played really well in the second half against a very good Orient team, a team that previous to that game had scored seven or eight in three games.
“We attacked them and they didn’t affect us.
“We had chances to put three or four past them. You can always improve and we have to seize the day when the chances come to put the game away.
“We were a bit naive defensively, some of the players were heavy legged due to it only being their second game - so that will work itself out in the course of time.
“We are raring to go for Saturday.”
Matt Taylor: "We have to perform better than last week."
City boss Matt Taylor expects a tough test from a Mansfield Town side he called ‘early season favourites’ ahead of the Grecians’ trip to the One Call Stadium on Saturday.
Mansfield have drawn both of their league games so far this season, so like City will be looking to pick up their first win of the season, and Taylor says it will a challenge to pick up points against the Nottinghamshire side.
“They’ve recruited well and invested heavily in their squad so they have some outstanding players,” he said.
“We go there with the confidence of the Salford away game and we know that as the home team it’s up to Mansfield to make the run-in in the game.
“We have to perform better than last week. We know that it was a below par performance as a collective and there were too many individuals who were off their game, so we’re looking for a response to the home performance against Port Vale.
“We know what a challenge going to Mansfield is, irrelevant of the crowd being there or not. They are one of the early season favourites because of the standards they’ve set themselves, so it’ll be a game to relish and look forward to.”
City head north with a fully fit squad following a strong week of training, despite Tuesday’s friendly with Bristol Rovers being called off due to a COVID-19 positive test amongst the Gas’ side.
“We missed the friendly on Tuesday, so we’re short of match practice. We’ve had a good week on the training pitch though and we’ve tried to replicate that and reintroduce some bodies to the squad. We’ll certainly be stronger.”
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