Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough says a winning start to 2021, which would also mean back-to-back victories for the Stags, would do ‘wonders’ for his side’s confidence.
The amber and blue welcome Port Vale to One Call Stadium this weekend, a fixture that follows the 3-2 win away at Scunthorpe United on Boxing Day.
Nigel Clough says that starting a new year on the front foot ‘gives everyone a lift’ heading into the second half of the campaign.
“We have several things to aim for, and that [back-to-back wins] is certainly one of them,” he told iFollow Stags. “The teams who are making progress in the league are getting back-to-back victories.
“It’s something we can aim for, and we want to get the New Year off to a good start. Let’s put 2020 behind us and get off to a good start [in 2021] with three points.
“I think that will do wonders for our confidence. It’s amazing, as it’s only a couple of days difference, but when you do start a new year off well, it gives everyone a lift.
“They [Port Vale] were right up there at the start of the season, but they’ve struggled a bit recently. They’re still more than capable and one of those teams who could easily challenge for the top six.
“The bottom teams are picking up results, and if you can get back-to-back wins, you can find yourself right in the mix of that next ‘pack’ very easily.
“There are some teams that seem to be getting dragged into it, and we have to try and get into that ‘pack’ and get above them.”
The Stags were set to face Salford City on Tuesday evening, but the match was postponed due to heavy snowfall in the area.
The boss offered his thoughts on the postponement, adding: “We were disappointed but not too surprised [with Salford postponement] after getting up and seeing the weather.
“We had a photo sent through quite early on by the groundsman [Michael Merriman], showing just how much snow was on the pitch.
“We knew it was doubtful. Anyone who has seen the games recently has seen how heavy the pitch has been with all the rain that we’ve had.
“If that sort of snow melts on it as well, you’ve not got much chance of getting the game on. The referee who came in at around 11am agreed straight away.
“We were disappointed, as we’d had a good win at Scunthorpe, and you want to play the game. We wanted to try and get that home win in 2020.
“David Waldie, the strength and conditioning coach, did a bit on Zoom with them [players] yesterday afternoon. Everybody is in as planned Wednesday morning for a good session. The Wednesday morning session will replace the Tuesday night.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a full-sized 3G pitch [at The RH Academy]. We’ll be having a session on there [due to frozen training pitches]. It’s wonderful to have these facilities, and hopefully next week the pitches will have recovered.”
Nigel Clough also discussed his side’s last outing, the 3-2 win at Scunthorpe on Boxing Day.
“I thought it was a good, all-round solid performance,” he said. “I was frustrated with the goals we conceded, because on the balance of play, we shouldn’t have been sweating in the last few minutes of the game.
“We made a couple of daft mistakes and got punished for them, but we still got the three points.
“I was very pleased with lots of things. It was interesting, as we usually do a bit more work, running-wise in games.
“The stats showed we were a little bit down, but I think that’s a good sign. To score three goals, win the game and not have to work as hard as they normally do, means people were playing their positions properly and we don’t have to go chasing the game.
“All those sorts of things gave us a lot of encouragement.”
Ahead of the January transfer window, the boss outlined when he plans to bring in players, as well as looking beyond next month to his targets for 2021.
“You can’t really get anybody in before Saturday [against Port Vale]. You have to have those lined up and all signed on New Year’s Day, so it’s unlikely.
“Realistically, you’re talking after the Cheltenham game [in the FA Cup]. I think we have good numbers, so maybe we might have one more go out than coming in.
“We want to keep Mansfield in the league, first and foremost, then try to progress from there. We want to build a squad in the summer to challenge at the other end of the league.
“Football is too unpredictable to set resolutions and predictions. We just do our best every day we come in.”
There was also an injury update on frontman Nicky Maynard, who has been recently sidelined with a hamstring issue.
“It [Maynard injury] is not too bad. I think it will be a week or two from here.
“He’ll keep working and he’ll be back when he’s comfortable. The good thing is with Nicky’s experience, he knows his body and knows his hamstring.
“He’ll wait until it’s absolutely right to come back.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Nigel Clough’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.