Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan has ‘guaranteed’ that his players will give ‘110 percent’ in each of Mansfield’s games in the 2020/21 season, while also speaking of the amber and blue’s remaining intentions in the transfer market.
The manager discussed his squad for the upcoming campaign following a 2-0 pre-season friendly win over Nottingham Forest under-23s at The RH Academy – the club’s training ground.
Reflecting on the disappointing 2019/20 season, Graham Coughlan says he plans to ‘drive standards’ in 2020/21, and that he expects the Stags to ‘improve in every aspect.’
“I’m not going to overload the club with players,” the boss said, discussing his transfer activity this summer. “I would suggest 16 out and 9 in, that’s probably about where I’d want it.
“If I got one more, brilliant, but we’re in no rush. I like what we’re putting together and I particularly like the enthusiasm and energy that the young lads are bringing.
“There will be competition – healthy competition – and I’m looking forward to the start of the season.
“The lads have shown a lot of endeavour and enthusiasm. They’ll probably tell you I want more quality and I’ll keep pushing for that.
“We seek perfection. Does perfection exist? I’ve spoken to the lads about this – but there’s no harm in seeking it.
“The lads know I’ll be on them every day, because they know I want to drive standards. It wasn’t a great season for this club last season – we finished 21st, which isn’t good enough.
“[This season] we’ll have energy, legs and be honest. I can guarantee each and every time we take the field, each one of our lads will give 110 percent for the badge and for the jersey.
“I’ll be bitterly disappointed if we don’t improve in every aspect of the team [in comparison to last season].
“We certainly miss the fans. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure that the players will agree with me – we’re desperately missing the fans.
“But the lads are working their socks off and there is a good, honest, hardworking crop – and I hope they do you [the fans] proud next season. The fans certainly deserve their spirits to be lifted and I hope this group of players can do it.”
Speaking about this morning’s pre-season friendly – in which defender Mal Benning and striker Jimmy Knowles found the net – the boss discussed Mansfield’s younger players, alongside new signings Corey O’Keeffe (below) and James Perch, who both played 30 minutes.
“We were looking at comparing our young lads to their young lads, which was a very worthwhile exercise,” he added.
“Six or seven of our players got 90 minutes under their belt and [new signings] Corey O’Keeffe and James Perch, we got them 30 minutes as well.
“Perchy has got the experience – we’re going very young this season but at times we need that calm, collected player. He’ll set standards and calm us down, bringing that authority we need.
“He is a player of expertise and quality. He’s local – he was born and bred in Mansfield, so he knows the area well and the DNA of the football club.
“Corey O’Keeffe was one I’ve been looking at for the last 12 months. I’ve always liked Corey, since I first saw him at Birmingham.
“He can play in numerous positions and I think he’s one you should keep an eye on. He’s one that the Mansfield fans will like. I think he’s one you will enjoy watching.”
Today, the Stags learned their opponents for the First Round of the 2020/21 Carabao Cup, and their group for the opening stage of the EFL Trophy.
A trip to Championship Preston North End is on the cards for the amber and blue in the Carabao Cup, while the Stags, Lincoln City, Scunthorpe United and Manchester City under-21s make up Group E in the Northern section of the EFL Trophy.
Graham Coughlan said: “It’s a Championship team, and if Preston had won one or two more games, they could have made the play-offs and perhaps been a Premier League team.
“That’s the quality of opposition we’ll be playing against. It’s always nice to travel to higher opposition.
“I’m looking forward to that – and I believe we’ve also got Man City [under-21s] in the EFL Trophy [group stage].
“We’re looking forward to playing teams of that calibre. It will certainly be a learning experience.”
The boss also discussed a recent trip to the Lake District, as part of a team bonding exercise ahead of the new campaign.
“We went up for a couple of days of team bonding. We got on the water and some players conquered their fears as we went to summits and peaks.
“New friendships were made and there was a good team spirit. The lads didn’t end up thanking me for it as they were sleeping in tents and waking up at half six in the morning!
“It wasn’t so much as a training camp, it was a survival camp. We’ve come back fit and healthy, and it was very enjoyable.
“We’re privileged that the owners, John and Carolyn [Radford], looked after us and allowed us to have a couple of days away.
“It’s always something that you want to do with the players. You see each other on the training ground, but you don’t often see each other away from the club.
“You see different types of characters in different scenarios. To take them away was a privilege and they behaved themselves!
“It wasn’t easy – it was tough, hard work – but I felt it was great for team spirit and team bonding.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the boss’ interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.