Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray is pleased with the progression of the club as he plans for the 21 games of the season
Twelve months ago, Murray was masterminding a plan to keep the club in the Football League but now, the manager and his staff are plotting an assault on the Sky Bet League Two play-off positions.
“The staff spoke about it in the week and what a difference a year makes," said Murray, at a news conference this morning.
"This time last year we were saying we probably needed nine wins or ten wins to stay in the league, so it’s a different mind-set this year and a different challenge.
“We’re looking at trying to achieve play-offs, which in the space of 12 months is super, so that next step for us is to improve the home form, like we did [on] Saturday, and keep the away form going.
“I think a lot of the teams around us, we’ve drew with. I think if you take points off these teams – draws or wins – then it always helps," Murray continued.
“The next step for us is to beat the teams in and around us, that will get us in the play-offs. I think it’s 21 games [left] and I think you’re probably looking at 10 or 11 wins in that to get you into the play-offs, which we believe we’re capable of.”
A pre-recorded message from Murray was played over the tannoy at One Call Stadium prior to Saturday’s 2-1 win over Stevenage, and the gaffer insists that the only way for the club to move forward is by unity.
“The strength of the town has always been the fact that when the going has got tough over the years, they’ve stood together. You look at the mining days, like I said on Saturday, they stood together in protest.
“What we’ve got to do as a football club is exactly the same, because people, all they’ve done over the years is say: ‘Mansfield Town, they’re a bang-average team, the way they do it is ugly’ and we’ve had a lot of bad press,” Murray said.
“I think everyone in the ground needed to hear from me on Saturday that the only way we move forward is by sticking together. You’ve done it for years as a community and you’re that stubborn in your pride and your ability not to lie down - bring it to the stadium!"
Stags travel to Surrey to face AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, just over a year since their last visit to The Cherry Red Records Stadium in a game which resulted in a 1-0 win for the Stags thanks to Vadaine Oliver’s second-half strike.
And the gaffer believes that his side will be in for another tough encounter this time around after seeing the sides play out a 1-1 draw back in September at One Call Stadium.
“You look at their recent results and they’ve been decent; they’ve picked up some excellent points and they’ll be one of the teams that will be fighting for a place in the play-offs at the end of the season.
“They play some great football but they mix it up well – they play football when they have to but 'work areas' when they have to, so we know we’re going be in for a tough game [on] Saturday.
“We’ve had a lot of home games recently and it’s one of those feelings where it’s all been rolled into one. Each game has just gone into each game so it’s nice to have a break and go into a different environment.”
You can view Adam Murray’s news conference on Stags Player.