Cox hopeful ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser at Northampton Town.Manager Paul Cox wants our young players to fulfil their potential ahead of the new Sky Bet League Two campaign, which starts with a trip to Northampton Town on Saturday.
Our team have impressed many during an impressive pre-season campaign which saw us win four out of six games, losing just once to Premier League club Aston Villa.
Nevertheless, our boss isn’t reading anything into the pre-season results and is fully-focussed on making a positive start to the new season.
“I’ve been round the block a few times and pre-seasons can lull you one way or another,” said Cox.
“You can have a bad one and start the season well or have an excellent one and have a horrendous start, so I don’t read too much into them.
“We tweaked it a little bit this year and stayed at home and tried to do everything here. We had some really tough games, but there have been some encouraging performances.”
Our boss continued: “It’s probably going to be the toughest season since I’ve been here, but it’s one that I’m looking forward to and looking to embrace.
“We have a lot of young players that are going to be starting the season that excite me, but they might take a bit of time to adjust to League Two.
“As a team I know we have a lot of potential and I’m quite excited by that as well, but at the minute it’s potential and that’s all it is.
“I’m aware that a lot of clubs have thrown a lot of resources at strengthening their squads and it was a very tough league last year, so I’m not reading much into pre-season.”
Earlier this week, our team came from 3-0 down at half-time to win 4-3 in a behind-closed-doors game at Derby County, in our final pre-season warm-up ahead of the new campaign.
Reflecting on the match, Cox said: “I thought it was going to be a cricket score in the first half because we never turned up, but it was [a good match] good for us.
“It got one or two players that have either been out through injury or needed sharpening up, 90 minutes, and it gives me a real headache for Saturday, because there were some excellent performances – especially in the second half.”
When asked what both his and the team’s aims are for the new season, Cox replied: “The target is to finish as high as possible and win as many football matches as possible.
“In the dressing room I’ve privately set targets with the players and that’s something that will always be kept in the dressing room. I’m not going to come out signing and dancing to the world about what we intend to do.”
He added: “Anybody that knows me will know that I won’t come into a season without wanting to win and wanting to progress, because that’s what it’s all about for me.
“I don’t want to stand still and I don’t want a group of players that want to stand still, either individually or collectively. I’ll raise the bar with the players again this year, but we have to be realistic in that money does talk.
“Ultimately, at the end of the season, it’s usually the teams with the most money that usually get success, but we’re in a good place at the minute and we’ve got a squad packed full of potential.
“If that potential materialises in a very quick manner, we could be a surprise.”
A full interview with Paul Cox will be available on Stags Player later today. To subscribe, click here.