Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray says he will weigh up the ‘risk v reward’ as the Stags look to mount a promotion challenge in the second half of their Sky Bet League Two campaign.
Stags currently sit in eighth position in League Two after picking up 34 points from their opening 22 fixtures and Murray says his side’s plan may alter slightly as they look ahead to the remaining 24 matches.
“As the first half of the season is going on, you don’t really want to talk about what your plan is because you don’t want to give too much away. There was always a plan and a focus in the first half of the season; I said at the start of the season my aim was to make us hard to beat, organised and disciplined.
“The second half of the season’s plan was always going to be a little bit different. This second half of the season was always going to be a little bit more ‘risk vs reward’ and that’s what we’ll be,” Murray continued.
“I wanted to establish the side as a good League Two side – a team that people look at with a brand and being hard to beat. Credit to the lads again, they have been that.”
After previously stating that being labelled as relegation candidates prior to the start of the season was all the inspiration Murray and the squad needed, the gaffer is pleased to be proving people wrong.
“It’s only half a job done. [In] the first half of the season, there has been games where we’ve wanted to be concrete and we’ve done that, so now the second half of the season will be a bit more ‘can we edge it and get promoted now?’.
“We’re not happy with mid-table, we’re not happy with just being a League Two team who just goes through the motions. We want to get promoted now – and to do that we need to take the next step in our journey.”
With a Boxing Day trip to Morecambe the first game of an intense Christmas and New Year period, the manager says his side will be fully prepared and won’t let the festivities distract them from what they want to achieve.
Murray said: “Morecambe are always a tricky one – they’re a bit expansive attacking-wise, a little bit off-the-cuff and very good going forward, especially at home.
“But we’re on a good run at the minute, we’re feeling confident, we know our strengths and we’ll go into the game as we always do; preparing for us and looking at how we can affect them. Like any team they’ll have weaknesses so we’ll look to exploit them."
The manager re-iterated that his focus will be solely on football during the Christmas period.
“Without sounding like Scrooge – I’ve got no interest in it (Christmas). I know I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago and certain comments were getting back to me that I was making excuses about it and I was looking for a sob story – I definitely wasn’t. For us, this is a work time. I don’t expect anyone crying for us over that,” Murray continued.
“In my eyes, it’s a big time. It’s a big weekend and we’ve got a big two or three weeks where we’ve got games at home where I feel we can do well in.
“We travel [on] Christmas Day because we have to prepare right, that’s our job. If we don’t do that, we get judged for that so we’re doing everything we can to prepare right and hopefully, we’ll see the results of that.”
The gaffer also confirmed that captain Nicky Hunt and left-back Mal Benning are progressing well with their respective recoveries and Hunt could be in contention for the trip to Morecambe.
“Mal’s brace is off, he’s chomping at the bit and we’re having to hold him back. He wants to get running as quickly as he can but for the sake of a couple of weeks, there’s no point risking it.
“Hunty’s doing really well and he might be in contention for the weekend, [but] he’s one that if he’s not quite right then we won’t risk it."
You can view Murray’s news conference, in full, on Stags Player.