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15th November 2020 19:21

Stags determined to improve, says boss
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 12th November 2020

Manager Nigel Clough says there is a ‘determination’ amongst his players to improve on their start to the season.

The former Derby County boss was in the Mansfield dugout for the first time on Tuesday evening, as he guided his new team to a 2-1 win away at Scunthorpe United in the Papa John’s Trophy.

After nearly a week in charge of the club, Nigel Clough says he has been most satisfied by the players’ ‘work ethic.’

“We’re thrilled with the welcome everybody has given us here at the club,” he told iFollow Stags. “I think the players are responding well.

“But we’re not getting carried away. It’s fantastic that we’ve had four games unbeaten and brilliant that we’ve won the last two, but there is a lot of hard work to do.

“[I’ve been most satisfied by] the work ethic of the players. If you’ve got that, you have something to work with straight away.


“They seem to be a very honest group of players as well, and I think there is a quiet determination amongst them to try and get away from this position we’re in and to improve.

“When you haven’t won in the first 11 league games, there’s room for improvement there. There are some good players in the dressing room to achieve that.

“I still think in January, it will be a natural process of two or three coming in and two or three going out, just to try and help and freshen things up a bit.

“But in the next six or seven weeks, we have a lot of points to play for and it’ll be the squad that we’ve seen over the last few games that will be trying to achieve that.”

Stags’ new boss fielded a mixed lineup for Tuesday evening’s win, and spoke of the ‘maturity’ on show from the younger element of his team selection.

There was also a comment on 17-year-old striker Nathan Caine (below), who made his debut from the bench at Sands Venue Stadium.

“When you think of young players, you think 18 to 19-year-olds that have just come out of the academy, but some of them [who played against Scunthorpe] are 20 or 21 now and have had a little bit of experience,” he added.

“They’re not babies going into the first team environment and I think they showed that as well. They showed that little more maturity and experience - they did well and they’ve been backing up the first team squad very well so far.

“It’s the first thing we do when we come in; we work very closely with the academy and asked them who is their best player, and they said Nathan [Caine].

“Even at 2-1, when the game was in the balance, we still put him on the pitch to get that experience.

“Every youth team player that comes out of the academy - if they are good enough - will get an opportunity here.”

This weekend, the Stags travel to Forest Green Rovers, their fourth away fixture in a row. Nigel Clough says that his side can take ‘confidence’ into the weekend’s game following two wins on the bounce.

“I think it’s one of the toughest we could’ve had, especially as a first league game away from home,” said the boss.

“I think the way that Mark Cooper’s teams play provides you with a different sort of test than a lot of League Two sides.

“The confidence we can take from the last two games, we can take that into another game away from home. We want Forest Green to be thinking about us as well - ‘what are Mansfield going to do against us?’

“As much as we can worry about Forest Green, we concentrate first and foremost on us doing our jobs.”

The boss also spoke of assistant manager Gary Crosby and head of recruitment Simon Clough, who he brought to the club last Friday on the day of his appointment as manager.

“We’ve been watching football - me and Simon [Clough] - for about 40 to 50 years now. We’ve been watching games since growing up with my dad and Peter Taylor.

“[We know] what to look for in a player and what we don’t like in a player. Simon joined us at Derby because I couldn’t think of anybody better to be the head of recruitment.

“We’ve all got to share the same views, which we do. We all see the same thing, and if we all tick that box [when scouting], it’s a guarantee that we’ll try and bring that player in.

“It just works. I think there is a good chemistry between us and we know our roles. We complement each other well.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full on mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

Match passes are available for Saturday’s fixture against Forest Green, and can be purchased for just £10 here.


Nigel Clough challenges Mansfield Town squad to prove they're better than league position suggests
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 12th November 2020

Mansfield Town's squad believe they are better than their league position suggests - now Nigel Clough wants them to prove it.

The new Stags boss has been impressed with his side's attitude and work rate since arriving at the club earlier this month .

It may have taken the players a frustrating 15 matches to claim their first win of the season, their first victory since a 2-1 success at Northampton Town in March, but Clough believes the foundations are already in place as he bids to move Mansfield further away from the relegation zone.

"You can sense the determination in the squad within the first week, that they feel they're better than their results," he said, keen for the players to now prove that by putting together a string of positive results.


"It's encouraging that they'd only lost four league games. As much as they hadn't won, they'd only lost four."

Clough says the squad's mission is to now improve upon those previous performances and, with a bit more solidity and nouse, turn those defeats into draws and draws into victories.

"The one thing that's stood out, the work rate is excellent within the squad," he added.

"It's got the nucleus of a good squad. It's got some potential but, obviously, they haven't (been winning) and there's reasons why we're towards the bottom of the league.

"That's our first priority, to identify those reasons and try to rectify it."

Clough has not hidden the fact he wants to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.

But the Stags squad still have several weeks to catch their manager's eye and make their case to be part of what he is attempting to build at One Call Stadium.

"We've inherited a good squad,” Clough continued.

"I think it'll need a few additions hopefully in January, and that'll mean a few going out on loan or permanent.

"We've got six or seven weeks to assess that.

"Outside the transfer window you can't change too much.

"It's working with the players we've got initially and trying to instill the belief.

"You've got to identify the problems and try to solve it them."


"An awful lot of potential!" Nigel Clough wants to turn Mansfield Town into title challengers within 18 months
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 12th November 2020

Nigel Clough wants to transform Mansfield Town from relegation battlers to title chasers within 18 months.

Although the new manager admits making improvements to the League Two outfit will be a step-by-step process, he has laid out his long-term goals - beginning with climbing further away from the foot of the table.

"First of all to get Mansfield safe and then improve," said Clough when asked what his targets at One Call Stadium will be.

"Then build towards challenging at the top of the league. That's the next 18 months, hopefully.


"I'm very pleased to be here and excited about the next 18 months or so. This club's got an awful lot of potential."

Clough's first aim - moving away from the drop zone - will take graft but also, he says, belief.

"First we have to survive. The team is down there and we've played nearly a quarter of the season," the Stags boss said.

"Let's be realistic and say let's get away from the bottom of the league and let's get to safety then we can start improving from there. It's survival then improvement.

"The way to get out of it is hard work, there's no escaping that. There has to be hard work on and off the pitch.

"That gives you the best chance, but maybe we need to relax a bit and not worry too much about our position.

"If you get too obsessed with being down the bottom it will drag you down. We've got to play as though they're half way up the league, with an element of freedom.

"Only by doing that can you achieve that position.”

A look at Clough's CV - his promotions with Burton Albion and steadying of the ship at Derby County and Sheffield United - suggests the Stags have the right man for the job in the dug-out.

"I hope I have got the skills as we're backing ourselves to do that," Clough said.

"We took over a squad in Derby in a similar position, with a whiff of relegation around the place. At Sheffield United we were in the bottom few.

"It was only when I went back to Burton a second time that I inherited a team top of the league, which is highly unusual in this business.

"The experience I got will hopefully stand us in good stead."


Nigel Clough wants insider info from Farrend Rawson ahead of Mansfield Town's clash at Forest Green Rovers
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 12th November 2020

Nigel Clough is hoping he can get some insider info on Forest Green Rovers ahead of Saturday's clash.

The Stags boss will be quizzing defender Farrend Rawson, who moved from Rovers in the summer, about some of the strengths and weaknesses in Mark Cooper's squad.

"I've played against Mark's teams over the years. Always a stern test," explained Clough ahead of his first League Two contest of the campaign.

"I think we'll be talking to Farrend Rawson, who was there last season. I'll have a quick chat with him about Forest Green.


"We've not seen a lot of the opposition this season yet, so we're playing catch up a bit."

The Stags hit the road on the back of two cup wins, and hope to get their first three points of the League Two campaign.

The two opponents have enjoyed differing starts to the season, Rovers currently sit third with Mansfield third-bottom.

But Clough believes the weekend offers a chance for his side to see how they compare to one of the highfliers.

He added: "It's a good challenge to have a look at a teams who have done so well.

"I think they're a good benchmark for us. Mark's been there a few seasons now, established a pattern of play and a squad where they're always in the top half, always looking to get into the play-offs at least.

"I think that's the position we want to be in, hopefully this time next season.

"It's certainly a tough test for us."


Midfielder praises new manager’s impact
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 12th November 2020

Club captain Ollie Clarke says that the impact of new boss Nigel Clough has put ‘smiles back on faces’ within the Mansfield camp.

Following a recent calf injury, the former Bristol Rovers midfielder made his first appearance in five-and-a-half weeks on Tuesday evening, which was also Nigel Clough’s first game in charge of the Stags.

Clarke, who appeared as a 73rd-minute substitute in the win over Scunthorpe, says he is looking forward to his future under the new manager.

“I’ve played against his [Nigel Clough’s] teams before and they’ve always done well,” he told iFollow Stags. “I, for one, was really looking forward to it straight away as I understand that he enjoys hard work and people who put their bodies on the line.

“That’s something I like to do myself. I look forward to the hard work and I’m hoping that he likes me as a player.

“The intensity of training has probably been ramped up a bit. Monday was an enjoyable session and he just has everyone with a smile on their face and back enjoying it.


“That’s what you need. When you’ve been on a bit of a bad run, you just need to go back to basics, get smiles back on faces and get everyone working for each other.

“When someone new comes in, everyone steps up to the plate and probably improves their game by ten or 15 percent.

“I don’t think it’s something players do on purpose, but they try a little harder and look to get a bit more out of themselves, as they want to impress the new manager.

“The immediate reaction when a new manager comes in is that it’s a clean slate. Everyone’s fighting to get in the team.

“The lads are buzzing that he [Nigel Clough] has come in because of his previous experiences.”

The 28-year-old revealed he has now ‘100 percent’ recovered from his calf injury, and is now focused on re-building his match fitness after over a month on the sidelines.

“It was enjoyable [to be back on the pitch],” he added. “It was a little ahead of schedule in terms of my [planned] return so I was pleased with that.

“When the manager said I’d be involved on Tuesday, I was buzzing because I wasn’t expected to be in contention so soon.

“I knew as soon as the injury happened, it wasn’t going to be as bad [as first thought]. I kicked on with my rehab fairly early and started running two or three weeks ago.

“I just gradually built it up and it [calf] didn’t react [badly] to anything that we’d done, so it was nice to get the nod to train on Monday.

“To go straight back into playing a game on Tuesday was really good. It was a good feeling.

“In terms of the injury I’d say I’m 100 percent there. It’s just the match fitness - I think that will come in two or three games, I’m naturally quite fit anyway.

“Match sharpness is probably lacking a little bit, so hopefully I can pick minutes up as we move forward.”

Speaking on a personal note, Clarke says there is ‘a lot more to come’ from him this season.

“At the start of the season, we probably didn’t hit the ground running like we wanted to.

“Against Newport we picked up in the second-half, which is when I did my injury. I thought we looked after the ball a lot better but unfortunately, we didn’t see out the win.

“Personally, I think there’s a lot more to come from me once I get myself fully match fit. I’m hoping to do that over the coming weeks and push on from there.

“I like to get up and down the pitch in search of the ball, so I’m hoping I can get the minutes in earlier rather than later, as I’m itching to get back involved and help the boys out.”

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


Nigel Clough has changed Mansfield Town's mentality, says skipper Ollie Clarke
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 12th November 2020

Stags skipper Ollie Clarke says Nigel Clough has brought the belief back to Mansfield Town.

The midfielder was convinced to leave boyhood club Bristol Rovers for One Call Stadium this summer by his former Gas manager Graham Coughlan.

However, their partnership did not flourish as planned as the Irishman left his role without a single win in 12 matches this season.

Now Clarke is looking forward to working under the positive influence of Clough.


"Football does this sometimes. I thank Coughs for everything he's done for me and when I spoke to him I was disappointed, but the new gaffer's come in and straight away we've had a good chat and everything seems to be looking better," he said.

"We've probably not performed to our capabilities this season. The manager's come in and upturned our form and it's looking a lot more positive.

"We've got to get behind the new manager. Hopefully, we can start again on Saturday and get going in the league (at Forest Green Rovers)."

Since Clough was appointed last Friday the Stags have picked up their first two wins of the campaign, away victories at Sunderland in the FA Cup under caretaker boss Richard Cooper, and at Scunthorpe in the EFL Trophy, the incoming boss' first in charge.

"He's lifted the spirits, got everyone believing in themselves again," Clarke continued.

"We were on a bad run and we needed to snap out of it and a change in mentality can do that.

"Small changes to start with and we build on that from there."

Clarke is looking forward to spending more time with Clough on the training ground, believing he can have an even stronger influence on the camp.

"He's been brilliant, his knowledge is right up there in the game and you believe in what he says," the captain continued.

"The boys have bought in to what he's said straight away. The mentality he's brought has hopefully had a positive effect."

Clarke made his first appearance since October 3's 2-1 defeat at Newport County in Tuesday's win at Scunthorpe, coming off the bench in the 74th minute.

Although he was delighted to return, he warned the recovery from his calf injury isn't complete just yet.

"It was really good to be fair, not something I was expecting to happen so soon as I only really went back into training on Monday," Clarke said of his cameo.

"But the gaffer just pulled me (aside) and said you'll be alright for 10-15 minutes. He got me straight back involved and I was pleased with that.

"When I initially did it I didn’t think it was that bad and carried on playing, thinking it was just a bit of a tight calf.

"The scan, and what came back wasn't the best of news, and could potentially have kept me out for eight to 10 weeks.

"I said to the physio, 'it's not feeling that bad' and after two or three weeks it settled down nicely and I started building up the running and strength.

"It's pushed on over the last two or three weeks and I was itching to go back into training. I was pushing it myself, but at the same time we've got to be a bit careful. If it happened again it would be a nightmare."



“I can’t wait. We’re really looking forward to the game between two good teams,” said Mark Cooper.

“Mansfield have a new manager who will get them going and they’ll be flying up the League.

“Nigel’s team will be on the front foot and they’ll try to make it difficult for us, it’s a tough game and we’re full y expecting that.

“I think it’s one of the toughest we could’ve had, especially as a first league game away from home,” said new Mansfield boss Nigel Clough.

“I think the way that Mark Cooper’s teams play provides you with a different sort of test than a lot of League Two sides.

“The confidence we can take from the last two games, we can take that into another game away from home. We want Forest Green to be thinking about us as well - ‘what are Mansfield going to do against us?’”