Stags’ boss David Flitcroft is keen to work on his side’s ‘intensity’ in pre-season, underlined by tonight’s second-half performance, in which Mansfield put three past Bradford Park Avenue.
The manager opted to use two entirely different lineups in each half, similar to how the Stags approached the training match against Portuguese side Vitoria FC on Saturday.
Tonight's game was wrapped up by the Stags in the second-half, with all three goals coming from midfielder Jacob Mellis and Lee Angol (2).
The Stags’ boss said he is eager to work on his side’s intensity in pre-season, and is looking for his players to work equally hard in and out of possession.
“I enjoyed some aspects,” said Flitcroft. “Certainly the ruthless approach and the ruthless nature of the second-half performance in terms of the intensity.
“We’re working hard on trying to get the intensity right in training and in matches.
“When you try out of possession and you play with that intensity out of possession it brightens you up in possession.
“If you get the pressing right it improves the intensity of the passing. That’s something we’re working on and something I’m seeing in some games.
“You have to do everything with an intensity and when you do, you become very good.
“We didn’t really have that first-half. We didn’t really press with the intensity that I wanted. We were too slow, too laboured.
“Second-half we sped the ball up and there was more of an energy about the second-half performance.
“I thought Lee Angol led the line superbly well and we got good runners off that.
“We could’ve been miles out of sight. The keeper in the second-half pulled off some fantastic saves. But again, that’s about us being really ruthless and really dominating them.
“There’s been some really good performances. But you never finish with your work and we have to improve some other aspects.
“The lads had an 8,500 [metres covered] training session yesterday with nearly 2,000 high intensity metres. It was a massive session that we did yesterday.
“I knew I wanted them to play 45 minutes of real game time. Then we look at different combinations and look at the right balance in midfield and up front.
“It’s been brilliant how it’s worked out tonight. We have to pick three teams on Saturday because we have three games that we are representing as Mansfield. We’ve got to now pick the right balance for each game.
“I’m delighted with the individual performances. The young boys played with no fear. Henri Wilder, Gibbo [Lewis Gibbens], Blakey [Nyle Blake] when he came on, Jordan Graham all played with no fear and it’s fantastic to see.”
Stags are set to send three different sides to matches against Gainsborough Trinity, Hednesford Town and Retford United on Saturday, but Mansfield boss Flitcroft is yet to decide which players will go where.
“We have to do a lot of work on that [team selection] tomorrow with the sports science department. We’ve been over to the pitches and now we’re collating that data in terms of what state the pitches are in,” he added.
“We have to make sure the pitches are right for Saturday and that we get the right players and the right balance.
“We’ll be able to field three teams but as of yet I won’t know where we’re going yet.”
The manager also gave an update on the club’s current participation in the transfer window.
“We’re still working on that [transfers],” he said. “I think we still need that defensive cover. I think we have the right balance in midfield now. Obviously with striker options we’re good, we’ve still got Danny [Rose] to come into the fold.
“It’s the defensive positions and the strengthening of that we’re looking into. I looked at Will Atkinson as a wing-back tonight to give us an option and I thought he excelled.”
With the Stags only returning to home soil on Monday of this week, the manager also took the time to reflect on what he believed was a successful pre-season trip to Portugal.
“I think it [Portugal] was massive. When we booked it, we talked about the impact of it in terms of bringing a football club together.
“The work that they [the academy] have done is phenomenal and one of the reasons I came to the football club.
“The bonus for me from Portugal was how the staff embraced each other in terms of the academy and first team staff being out there.
“It’s no good bringing young players into an environment that doesn’t feel right. There is a leadership group developing in the first team squad and you want good young players coming through that.
“The bonus was spending that time with the players and letting them know what the standards are, but watching the young players grow throughout the trip as well.
“So there’s been a lot of benefit from the Portugal trip and so much that we’ve go out from it. The game itself [vs Vitoria FC] was a feisty affair, more than I was expecting to be honest that a Portuguese team would come at us.
“But we stood up to the test and kept our control and focus. They’re a robust team and a decent technical team. It was a fantastic test.”
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