Manager John Dempster has revealed details of a meeting held with his players on Sunday, in which his charges spoke ‘very well’ and ‘honestly’ – something he expects the Stags to show a ‘reaction’ from.
The meeting followed a disappointing 3-0 loss at home to Cheltenham in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking in Tuesday morning’s news conference at The RH Academy, the boss discussed Saturday’s match, Sunday morning’s conversations, and also alluded to ‘changes’ in the January transfer window.
“Watching the [Cheltenham] game back, there should have been a sending off in the game early on,” he told iFollow Stags. “It frustrated me at the time and I’m still feeling annoyed with it, but that’s not why we lost the game 3-0.
“I was really disappointed with the goals we conceded. We spoke about that at length on Sunday morning – I had the players in on Sunday.
“Some of the players spoke very well about our current predicament. We’re moving forward now.
“There was a lot of honesty and some of the senior pro’s spoke very well. I spoke honestly, as I always do, and we’ll see what sort of reaction we get this week in training.
“People are aware that they need to start taking responsibility. There needs to be change. There won’t be major surgery but there will be changes [in January], because we find ourselves in a very difficult predicament at the moment.
“Results haven’t been good enough and performances haven’t been good enough. If we’re going to start achieving our potential, there needs to be some changes.
“Our daily routine will look slightly different and our weekly structure can be tweaked and might look different.
“You’re forever searching [for the winning formula], but the big thing that came out on Sunday, speaking to the players, was that key word of responsibility.”
The manager also spoke about the importance of ‘responsibility’ and ‘respect’ from his players in a ‘difficult time.’
“I don’t believe in criticising players in front of the media,” he added. “The best managers I’ve worked with didn’t do that to me, so I’d expect to be treated with the same respect.
“With that, you want respect back. At times this season, the team’s performances don’t reflect me as a person.
“Some of the things that have gone wrong, I take full responsibility for, but the values that I adhere to and the way I live my life, I expect my team do the same. Sometimes that hasn’t happened this season.
“The danger of being the frontman and taking responsibility for any of the negativity, is that lesser characters can hide behind you.
“I won’t change my personality or my beliefs – what’s important is that the players don’t hide behind me because that would not only be a massive negative, but it would also show a serious lack of character.
“I think they’re going through a difficult time – we all are – but in difficult times that’s when you need to come together and show your worth and be part of a team.”
Previewing the weekend’s fixture, the manager discussed Saturday’s opponents, Crewe: “Crewe are a very good side. David [Artell] has a team of young players that grew up together and you can see when they play, they’ve been together for a number of years.
“Their setup is a very impressive one and they play very good football. They’re up there in the table, and rightly so, because they’ve had some outstanding results.
“It will be a real challenge because, not only are they a good, young side, but they’re playing with confidence.”
On Tuesday afternoon, a selection of the Stags’ squad visited King’s Mill Hospital to hand out presents to poorly children ahead of Christmas.
The boss, speaking ahead of the visit, discussed its importance: “Later this afternoon we’ll go to see children in the hospital who aren’t very well, something that the football club has done since I’ve been here.
“Going as the manager of the football club, it will be great to see the kids. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces.
“Although the children in there aren’t very well, children are very resolute and it’s great to see them smiling when you come through the door.
“As a player, I think it’s a brilliant thing to do. It gives you a reality check – visiting the kids at the hospital makes you grateful for what you’ve got.”
There was also an injury update from the gaffer.
“Hayden White will train on Monday with the group, which is a bonus. Neal Bishop is going through the process having suffered a concussion on Saturday.
“All signs are good so we expect him to be back training with the group on Friday.
“He has a chance [to play on Saturday]. He can’t remember the second-half on Saturday, but he’ll carry on with the process. As long as he carries on with that process, he’ll train on Friday.”