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Interviews

Read: Manager Graham Coughlan interview

23 March 2020

We spoke over the phone with manager Graham Coughlan to get an update from the Stags' boss. Here's a full transcript of the interview...

Graham, good to be speaking with you. Firstly, and as importantly as anything, how have you been keeping in these extraordinary times?

It's been different - never have I experienced this before and nor have a lot of people. It's been difficult staying indoors but it's necessary and it's needed. We'll obey the instructions and rules that have been put in place as they have been put in place for a reason. Fingers crossed it won't be too long, and we'll all come through the other side in a fit and healthy state.

What's been the order of business for both you and the players since you went into self-isolation ten days ago?

We've basically been similar to most football clubs. We've took the players' weights and body fats before they leave and when they return it should be no greater than when they left. They all have daily programmes that they have to complete and forward the information to us, such as the timings and the distances.

It's still been busy as the lads are firing through things and we're trying to log it all. It's been busy but the players have been ultimate professionals, to be fair. We broke them up into groups of four and five, and they each have a team leader - a member of staff that they report back to.

Just to put a bit of flesh on the bones - what exactly are you asking the players to do during this period?

Naturally, maintain - I don't think the fitness levels will increase - but I just want them to maintain the levels. I want them to maintain their standards - we got them into a really good place.

We're basically asking for them to be good professional footballers and to look after themselves. We're asking them to come back ready, fit and able to go and probably have to do a mini pre-season when they come back.

Each day they get set a five to six kilometre workload. Some days they may get eight kilometres and other days they might get a ten kilometre workload. Some of them we'll look to get high speed running into and others we'll look to get distance into.

There are lots of variables depending on the player - they are individual training programmes. We just get the feedback and the timings on it, comparing where they should be and where they are. It looks very positive at this moment in time but irrespective of what you do now, you can't prepare yourself for games or for training sessions where you have to have good contact with the ball.

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So just how regular is the contact between you and the players?

I've spoken to every player since we've been in isolation. We all have five or six players [assigned to each member of staff] in our group and we contact them regularly. You have to trust that they are being professional but it [contact] is regular.

It's probably once a day minimum or sometimes twice. In fairness, I'm probably getting to know the players a little bit more now - it's an interesting way of doing it and it's an education for ourselves because I've never been through anything like this.

I'm trusting the players to maintain their standards and come back in reasonable shape.

All of this really - in the grand scheme of things - is secondary, it's not really important. But I would still like to ask you about football, because what exactly are you planning for? Are you planning for the season to resume at some point?

I am of the opinion that life and health is paramount. I don't want to sound as if it's a non-caring-about-football attitude, because I love the game, but I don't really care when the season starts back again. 

I've been watching the news and 200 people have perished, 200 people have died, and that number is going to grow. Our talks should go into that, making sure we're all fit and healthy, and if we can go back into football, making sure we can contain this virus and help the NHS.

I know the people on the frontline are stretched, so I don't want to be selfish and start talking about football. I can't wait to get back - don't get me wrong - but our thought process at this moment in time has to be with the people on the frontline, fighting this virus and helping this country.

I think you hit the nail on the head because you're talking about 200 people that have passed away already, which is hard-hitting. Putting dates on things and looking at football, talking about should the season be null and void - yes, the season should be null and void, because there are far more important things in life than putting dates on when we come back.

We come back when we come back. If the season carries on, it carries on. But let's put all of our time and our energy into what's going on at this moment in time and making sure we have as minimal damage and deaths as possible.

I'm looking across Europe at Italy and Spain, and I just hope that those kind of catastrophes don't hit us. I just hope we're sensible enough in this country to heed the warnings and stay on top of it.

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You said some really poignant and interesting things there Graham. In summary, what is your message - not only Mansfield Town supporters - but to the community of Mansfield and perhaps further afield?

Let's take the information and the messages, and let's heed what the Prime Minister has been saying. Staying off the streets, avoiding mass gatherings, staying indoors. It is a hardship, but it is for the best and the good of us all.

There is a reason why we are being told and the information we are being given. There is a reason behind everything they are saying.

Let's heed the information, let's stay safe and let's self-isolate. Hopefully, we can come through the other side of it.

When football becomes important again, we can take that up and put our hats, scarves and jerseys on - but at this current moment in time, it's about people's health and longevity. We want as many people to avoid this virus as possible.

Therefore, you have to and you must take heed of what we're being told. Hopefully it will be short-term pain for long-term gain. A couple weeks of isolation is not a hardship when you look at some of the devastation that's going on across Europe.


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