Stags' boss Adam Murray has thanked the Mansfield Town squad for what he describes as a ‘very good’ season which has seen the club finish in the top half of Sky Bet League 2.The Stags were held to a 0-0 draw against Cambridge United at One Call Stadium this afternoon, meaning they end the campaign in 12th position.
And after being involved in a relegation dogfight last season, Murray has reflected positively on a progressive year.
“I think it’s been a very good season, I think we’re fine lines away from being an excellent team. From where we’ve come from in a short space of time, it’s a credit to the footballers because they’re the ones that have carried it out,” Murray said.
“We’ll see how to get better and we’ll see the ingredients we can get in to make us better. The team spirit and fight of this group has been the strength for 12 months. I thank them and I’m proud of every single one of them.”
The 34-year-old manager was satisfied with a better second half showing from his team, while he also gave praise to 17-year-old academy graduate Zayn Hakeem, who came on as a substitute to make his senior debut.
“[In] the first half, we looked a little bit ‘last game of the season-ish’. Then I thought in the second half we upped the tempo and the standard and probably did enough to win the game.
“I thought he (Hakeem) was excellent, we had to throw him an energy gel within about ten minutes of him coming on! I remember that moment myself [in my own career] and I was actually sick after ten minutes of being on because it drains everything out of you.
“He’s a goalscorer, but I thought his hold-up play was top drawer – he’s as quick as Greeny (Matt Green) which is a good asset, so [I’m] really pleased for him.”
Murray also commented on the future of defender Ryan Tafazolli, who he believes has played his last game for the club, despite wanting him to stay.
“I don’t know the facts. My gut feeling is that he’ll probably move on – if I’m being honest I thought Lee (Collins) and Pearcey (Krystian Pearce) were superb in the second half.
“‘Taf’ has been brilliant for this football club, he’s put a right shift in and if he decides to move on, the chairman can’t do any more than he’s done.
“He just wants to play as high as he possibly can and my opinion [is that] he’d gain more from playing another season in League 2 and becoming the best defender in League 2, because he’s still got a lot to work on.”
Murray has also outlined his plans for the upcoming weeks, which includes sorting out the ‘retained list’ of who will remain at the Stags for the 2016-17 campaign.
“I’m not going to mess about with it (the retained list). We’ve got a couple that we need to ‘cross the t’s and dot the I’s’ as they say. [It’s] time to switch my brain off first and foremost, I’ve not had a day off for going on 19 months.”
Finally, the gaffer has a message for supporters looking ahead to the next few months without league football, as he prepares to put a squad together to improve further in the 2016-17 campaign.
“Enjoy your summer. I’ll have three or four days before I’m ready to go again, I know that’s what the football world’s like. We want to rest but then we want to ‘kick back in’.
“I think the fans have been superb this season – I think they’ve been excited at times, we’ve had some good results where we’ve nicked last-minute goals. We’ve battered our local rivals a couple of times, which always helps! Now it’s up to us to keep them smiling – a big ‘thank you’ [goes to them] and get ready to do it again next year!”
Supporters can watch Adam Murray’s post-match interview on Stags Player HD.