Manager Graham Coughlan has challenged his players to change Stags’ ‘fortunes’ away at Plymouth Argyle this weekend, as he looks to instil a ‘winning mentality’ into his side.
Mansfield, who will make the long journey to Home Park on Saturday for their next Sky Bet League Two fixture, are yet to win a game against a side currently in the top seven this season.
The boss says there is ‘no better time’ to turn Stags’ run of results around than against a Plymouth side that have won four of their last five league matches.
“It [Plymouth game] is a massive challenge,” he said, speaking in Tuesday morning’s news conference at The RH Academy. “It’s a big ground, big club, brilliant fanbase. It’ll be a massive challenge and we know that.
“It’s going to be difficult as Plymouth are probably the best team in the division, truth be told. It’s a mountain to climb but I’ve come here to climb a mountain and change the fortunes of this football club.
“We need to change our mindset. There’s no bigger or better challenge than going down to Plymouth, against a team that are in form.
“There’s no better time to change our fortunes against top seven teams than Saturday. It’s a very difficult place to go and a lot of clubs get beat up by the long journey and the size of the arena.
“It’s a great place to play football and we should be looking forward to going down and playing against them.
“It’s about us digging deep against a really good outfit and trying to change our fortunes. I like winning – I don’t like losing. We have to start adopting a winning mentality. We have to become stronger, mentally and physically, and start delivering.
“It’s a big few weeks for us, personally, individually and collectively.”
The manager also delivered an update on the January transfer window, with the Stags ‘actively working and seeking’ for new recruits.
“At this moment in time, we have what we have,” he added. “We are actively working and seeking. The January transfer window is a slow one and most things happen in the last couple of days.
“At this moment, it’s slow. Some of the things we’re being asked for is absolutely ridiculous. I’m not going down those roads where we’re being held to ransom.
“We are actively speaking and fingers crossed we can get a couple in. It’s about building a team for the future, not just the short term.”
There was also an update on skipper Krystian Pearce and midfielder Jacob Mellis, with the boss adding that he has not ‘closed the door’ on any player in the squad.
“We haven’t had enquiries [for Pearce or Mellis]. I’ve told Krystian or Jacob that they can move on if that was their desire, but that does not mean that I have ripped up the page of either of them.
“The ball is in their court. Should they wish to impress in training, not a problem. The opportunity is there for them to get back into the team, that’s fine. I haven’t closed the door on anybody.
“There might be players in the squad that move on that we didn’t expect to. It’s a strange window, but there are opportunities for a few players to either get back into the team or move on.
“I might have been a little harsh on Krystian when I came through the door. I was expecting better levels from my captain and looking for that leadership.
“I had a conversation with Krystian and I do think the club was lacking a little bit of leadership. I’ve probably come in all-guns-blazing towards my skipper, when it all probably wasn’t his fault.
“But I’ll always come to my skipper if the changing room is not functioning right. I’ve had a good chat with him and we’re on the same page – I’m looking for a reaction, not just from Krystian but from everybody really, to be honest.”
Reflecting on the weekend’s defeat against Forest Green and the reaction he desires from the players, Graham Coughlan added: “I keep asking for a clean sheet so I suppose that would be a start. I got a really positive reaction on the training ground yesterday, but as I keep saying to the lads, there’s no point in being a good trainer from Monday to Friday and not producing on a Saturday.
“On review, I thought that was the best 45 minutes they’ve played [against Forest Green in the first-half].
“We played against one of the best footballing sides in the league in Forest Green, and they couldn’t make a pass [in the first-half]. We should have been at least 3-0 up.
“The first-half belonged to us, but realistically, that should be a game that’s dead and buried. There is a mindset that needs to be changed.”
There was also an injury update from the Mansfield boss, including the latest on Willem Tomlinson, Kellan Gordon and Craig Davies: “He [Tomlinson] aggravated his groin. He had a problem with that with a previous injury and it flares up now and again.
“He’ll need a few weeks of TLC to really get the injury right, so he doesn’t get into a stop-start cycle. He’s about two or three weeks off.
“Kellan Gordon should be a couple of weeks away as well. There aren’t too many fresh injuries or a lot to report on that front.
“Craig Davies is making really good progress and is working his socks off. All-in-all, it’s not been the worst run in terms of injuries.”
Looking ahead to Thursday evening’s FA Youth Cup Fourth Round match against Burnley at One Call Stadium (7pm), the manager says that it is a ‘tremendous achievement’ for Stags’ young guns to reach this stage of the competition.
“We’re really looking forward to the game on Thursday evening. We hope they can perform the way they did previously against QPR.
“To be still in the FA Youth Cup not far off February is a tremendous achievement for all involved. It’s a special occasion at that age.
“It’s a great occasion that we’re all looking forward to. It’s a special evening for the young lads and I hope they just go out there and enjoy it.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the gaffer’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.