Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan has challenged his players to ‘step up’ and finish the season as strongly as possible, to gather momentum heading into the next campaign.
Mansfield’s next match is against league leaders Swindon Town, with the amber and blue facing a stern test to extend their current three-match unbeaten run on home soil.
The manager says that, although he has seen improvements from his side in terms of their performances and belief, it is now important to start winning matches to generate confidence over the 11 remaining matches this season.
“It’s hard to take anything away from games of football when you’re not winning,” he told iFollow Stags. “I’m here to win games and bring success to this football club.
“You can see the change and the improvements, but, at the end of the day, winning was drummed into me from an early age and I’d like us to have that mentality.
“We haven’t won enough games of football, which is the most disappointing part. But everything else has been really productive and positive.
“The players are going into games more confident than they were previously. But the game of football is about winning.
“The lads were beat up and negative when we came in. There was lots that wasn’t quite to my liking that we needed to shape and fix. I think we’re making change and slowly but surely getting there.
“The only stats or numbers that will satisfy me is three points on a Saturday and climbing up that table, winning games of football.
“I want to win and bring success to this football club. I will get there, but it’s possibly taken me a little longer than I wanted or expected.
“We’ll work hard right until the end [of this season] and throughout the summer to be ready for next season.
“I’m asking the players to show up from now until the end of the season. Yes, there have been improvements, but it’s about winning games.
“It’s up to me to provide everything I can for this group and for this football club for people to keep faith and confidence with me. It’s 11 games from now until the end of the season, so I’m asking everyone to step up and give it a good go from now until the end.”
The boss says he ‘can’t wait’ for Saturday’s clash against table-toppers Swindon, and that the support from the Mansfield faithful makes him ‘love playing at home.’
“I love playing at home – the fans have been brilliant,” he added. “Hopefully we can make this place [One Call Stadium] a fortress and get them in good voice. We want to give them something to cheer about from now until the end of the season.
“Swindon are top of the league and winning games of football. For us to come close to them on Saturday, it will take all of our players to give an eight or nine out of ten performance.
“I believe we can do that and I’m really looking forward to the game. It’s a great game to go into and I can’t wait. I do believe our lads are turning a corner and the mentality is slowly starting to change.
“There has to be a balance [in training] – we’ll split our days up, concentrating on defending and attacking. We are looking tighter [at the back] and a very dangerous outfit when we’re on the front foot going after teams.
“It’s about having that belief, and we’re not far away – we’re remaining positive. The lads are doing two or three sessions a day, and it’s not ideal that we’re having to give the lads eight or nine sessions a week.”
Graham Coughlan also spoke of midfielder Jack Evans’ influence on the squad, despite the on-loan Swansea midfielder not yet making appearance for Mansfield since joining the club last month.
“Jack has come in and done well. He’s come from under-23 football with Swansea – the level between that and league football is slightly different.
“He’s doing very well and what he has done is pushed [Harry] Charsley, [Willem] Tomlinson and [Neal] Bishop to the next level.
“He’s asking questions of their jerseys and their positions. He’s the competition that we needed and Bish has really flourished with Jack behind him.
“If anything, Jack has had a massive positive effect on our midfield players.”
There was also an injury update on current absentees Alex MacDonald, Matt Preston and Kellan Gordon.
“He [MacDonald] is still a week or two short. We’ll be missing Macca this weekend, but fingers crossed sometime next week we’ll get him out on the grass.
“We’re aiming [to get him back] for Northampton, but if that doesn’t come off, we’ll aim for the next game [Crewe].
“Matt [Preston] has a tight hamstring – he picked up a niggle on Friday when we were working on shape and set pieces.
“We’re glad it’s settled down – he’s responded well and is working hard. That’s one we’ll have to gauge in the week. He’s possibly another one that we won’t have this weekend.
“I think Kellan [Gordon] is some way short, as of yet. He’s still not got out on the grass and still hasn’t taken part in any of our sessions.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.