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Stags can achieve glory this season - Evans

2 February 2017

Stags’ boss Steve Evans says the club’s business in the January transfer window has massively increased their chances of finishing the season in the Sky Bet League Two top seven.

The boss brought in a total of eight players during January, including the Deadline Day acquisitions of attacking midfielder Alfie Potter and winger Alex MacDonald. 

He has also balanced the books, with seven heading out the door, including the loan of Kevan Hurst to National League club Guiseley.

And the gaffer believes that the added quality improves the Stags' chances of a top-seven finish ‘one million percent’ but admits they’ll need a bit of luck along the way. 

“We can certainly achieve [promotion] and we’re going to need a little bit of luck along the way. Sir Bobby Robson once told me: ‘to be a good manager, you need to be lucky, son’ and those words have always stuck by me,” the Stags’ chief said. 

“I’ve been fortunate in my career. You don’t win nine promotions by not being lucky; you have to have a little bit of luck but what comes with that is hard work and determination, the ability to put a team together through individuals and having a spirit in the dressing rooms that’s about us. 

“We’ve not brought any superstars in who automatically will play, that’s not been the case here. We’ve just increased the quality and what we’ve seen with that is some players that I inherited, some good players, suddenly their levels have come up and they have [to continue] to come up if they want to play a part here.”

The former Leeds United boss secured the deals for former Northampton Town man Potter and Oxford United winger MacDonald on Deadline Day, however a third addition escaped his grasp and the manager has revealed that the club couldn’t agree personal terms with the Championship player in question.

“The chairman (John Radford) and chief executive (Carolyn Radford) were prepared and put in an offer, in writing, that completely smashed the record here for buying a player. 

“We just couldn’t get there in personal terms and try as we may, it was difficult. We have a structure in the dressing room that we want to keep to and that’s of paramount importance to me. 

“We withdrew from that about 7.30 in the evening. It was disappointing because he was a young player and he would’ve been top class, but we couldn’t get it over the line.”

Looking ahead to the trip to Barnet on Saturday, the boss says he is expecting a challenging match against a Bees’ side who currently sit just one point above the Stags in Sky Bet League Two. 

“They’ve got some wonderful players. People like John Akinde who’s big and strong [and] gets a goal. Of course John played for me at Crawley; he’s a great lad, I’ve not seen him for a while so it’ll be good to catch up. It’s going to be tough. 

“They’re an incredibly hard-working side, I watched their full game at Carlisle last week and they were most impressive. They went down to 10 men and still should’ve beaten Carlisle.

“It’s a good game for both teams to be involved in, both teams are in good form and it’s a nice place to go and play your football. It will be a difficult game on Saturday but it’s a game we look forward to.”

Stags will still be without defenders George Taft and Kyle Howkins for the trip to The Hive Stadium, however the gaffer is expecting them to return within 10 days and believes both players will be like 'having new signings'. 

“The transfer deadline’s come and gone but we’ve got two new signings next week, which others won’t have – that’s what they are for us. 

“We just got Howkins back playing the way we’d like him to play after three or four consecutive games and the big fellow put in a smashing tackle, a great centre-back’s tackle and unfortunately twisted himself up. 

“ We liked [Taft] as a player when we watched him at Burton and of course he can play centre-back and he can play left-back. He’s a big asset to us when he gets fit and he’s worked incredibly hard behind the scenes, as Kyle has.”

Supporters can view manager Steve Evans’ news conference, in full, on Stags PlayerHD. 

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