Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray says he is pleased with the state the football club is in with the new season just 48 hours away.Stags kick off their SkyBet League Two season this Saturday with a home fixture against Carlisle United and Murray is impressed with how pre-season has prepared his side for the upcoming campaign
Murray said: “I’ve been here a long time now and I think it’s the best atmosphere I’ve felt.
"People are looking at it now with a realistic view and going ‘We’ve put a decent squad together, we’ve done okay in pre-season’ and people are understanding that this is a tough league and there’s some big teams in this league and there’s a real optimism balanced with realism this season and I like it.”
He continued: “As an outfit, we’re strong, and by outfit I don’t [just] mean the football side of it, I mean the club. I look at the fans and how they've been in pre-season. I speak to a lot of people and read a lot of things and there’s a sensible view on things.
"We’re going to have to be on our mettle and I do believe that we need to keep the focus of realism and optimism and belief in what we’re about. We want to set our DNA of what we’re about at this football club, we want people to go 'this is Mansfield Town, this is what they stand for and they’re good at it'.”
“We’ve put a lot of good work in to pre-season and we just want it to start. We’ve got a lot of energy in the group, a lot of focus and we just want to get started now.
"There’s a real focus from the staff and the players and everyone around the ground at the minute and it’s been interesting to see that focus change this week from the pre-season mode to the fact that the points are on the line now.”
Murray’s new look squad face a tough first month of the season but the Gaffer insists he’d want it no other way. He said: “In that first month we need to hit the ground running. It’s going to be intense. There are a lot of games and as long as we stick to what we believe in then we’ll be okay.”
“We’ll get better and stronger as each game goes by and as each training session goes by I see an improvement. It’s going to be a gradual process but the good thing for us is [that] we’ve gelled very quickly over pre-season and we’re a little bit ahead of schedule to where I expected.”
The squad that Murray has assembled over the close season isn’t just made up of good footballers, but also good people, he has claimed. “We’ve got a group of men in there who have an unbelievable desire to achieve for Mansfield Town, hence the reason we signed them.
"I've said numerous times that we sign good people, and with good people comes that professionalism, that focus and the drive to achieve as an individual. If you look at our group, they’ve all won. They’ve all achieved something in their careers.”
Murray wants to turn One Call Stadium in to a fortress this season, starting with this Saturday’s match against Carlisle. He said: “I hope it’s raining, it’s horrible and the sun's not out. I want it as bad as possible. It’s not an occasion where we want it to be pretty, and we don’t want to go out there, put our sun tan cream on and enjoy the weather and enjoy watching Carlisle. We want to come and make it horrible, we want it absolutely pouring down and we want to make an atmosphere in here that makes this ground a real intense place to come this season.”
The manager had some good news to report on the fitness of both winger Matty Blair and striker Adi Yussuf.
On Blair he said: “When we get him up to full training and up to full speed we’ll sit down with Matt and make sure the deal's right for the football club and for Blairy and what an addition [it will be to] to have coming back in to the squad. He’s someone who we signed back in January with the hope that he’ll be 'The X Factor', a match-winner. He scores goals, he creates goals and he’ll be a great bonus for us.”
Following a spell on the sidelines due to a mixture of Ramadan and a couple of niggling injuries for frontman Yussuf,, the Gaffer is pleased with how the ex-Oxford City striker is progressing: “Over the last ten days he’s pushed himself, he’s a mentally strong boy and physically he’s 'a beast'.
"He played in a behind-closed-doors game last week and scored again and he’s one of these guys that when he’s on the pitch he seems to get chances, hence why he scored 30-odd goals last season.
"I think he’s someone that needs the right management. He needs the belief put in to him and he needs an arm around his shoulder at times and a kick up the backside when he drops off. I’ve got real belief in Adi and I think he’ll surprise a few [people] this season.”