Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox says he will make honest and professional decisions when it comes to discussing players’ futures in a few weeks time.
Our boss, who was speaking at his pre-match press meeting ahead of Saturday’s clash with Torquay United, insists that players will need to push themselves in our remaining two matches.
“I’ll just be professional and make honest, professional decisions on players that I feel we’re not going to go forward with,” said Cox.
“There have been people that I’ve spoken with probably throughout the season and highlighted tick boxes, but the onus is on making honest decisions.
“I know I’ve got a lot of honest players here, so it’s going to be tough with some of them, because I believe some of them have run through a brick wall for the club.”
He continued: “We don’t know where we’re going to finish yet [in the league], but if we finish mid-table up towards the top 10, then we finish there for a reason.
“Being hard on myself, I never want to celebrate mediocrity and that’s what we’ve finished this season. I’ve got to improve, got to strive and got to make some horrible decisions, but that’s what the chairman has employed me to do.
“There are some decisions that I’ve nearly made in my head, some decisions have been made and some decisions that are fifty-fifty at the minute.
“Players have got two games now to push themselves and prove that they want to be here and carry on the journey. Anything can happen in those two games.”
Meanwhile, our manager admits he is envious of the teams who are currently battling it out for automatic promotion and Play-Off positions in Sky Bet League Two.
Our slim hopes of achieving promotion came to an end during the Easter weekend, as we drew 1-1 away at Accrington Stanley, before losing 2-0 to Cheltenham Town three days later.
“I always say I’m on a path and I want to get to another point now,” said Cox. “They’ll be some people that throw in the towel, some people that think they’ve achieved something and some people that lose their hunger.
“There are a million and one personality traits that make up the personality of wanting to win and being a winner and I’m more hungry now than I’ve probably been at any point in my career.”
He continued: “I use the words ‘envious’ and ‘jealous’ of the teams that are in the Play-Offs.
“For the last two years, we’ve been in those positions and had everything to play for at the end of the season. Success has been a touching distance away and it annoys me that it’s not [happened] this season.
“Thinking with my head, I know that it’s our first season at this level. We’re up against some massive clubs, good managers and good players right throughout the league, and we’ve had to bite and scratch for everything we’ve got.
“But I want to improve. Things have got to be tweaked and be improved. If people think they’ve achieved and want to admire what we’ve done in the last three years, then so be it, but I’m now looking at the next three years.”
When asked if he had set any targets for the future, Cox added: “At this time now, I’m going to sit down with the chairman and the board and have a look really where the club wants to go.
“I just want to win every game as manager. We’ve had a good look at things this year, we’ve seen the highs and the lows, we’ve made some immense mistakes, but we’ve made some immense strides.
“If we can carry on the focus that we’ve shown this season as well as just tidying up on a few of the mistakes, then we should improve, but [football] is a funny game and I believe next season will be tougher than this one.
“If you look at the four clubs that will be coming down, they’re all be big clubs. There’ll also be a number of clubs in this league who improve their resources in terms of squad size and squad quality, so it’ll be even tougher.
“But the challenge is there. I don’t think I’d ever want to go into a season thinking that we’d arrived, because that’s when you start to get a little bit complacent.”
He added: “I’ll always set high standards and we want to raise the bar.”
Paul Cox's full interview will be available on Stags Player later today. To subscribe, click here.