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Interviews

Stags determined to improve, says boss

12 November 2020

Manager Nigel Clough says there is a ‘determination’ amongst his players to improve on their start to the season.

The former Derby County boss was in the Mansfield dugout for the first time on Tuesday evening, as he guided his new team to a 2-1 win away at Scunthorpe United in the Papa John’s Trophy.

After nearly a week in charge of the club, Nigel Clough says he has been most satisfied by the players’ ‘work ethic.’

“We’re thrilled with the welcome everybody has given us here at the club,” he told iFollow Stags. “I think the players are responding well.

“But we’re not getting carried away. It’s fantastic that we’ve had four games unbeaten and brilliant that we’ve won the last two, but there is a lot of hard work to do.

“[I’ve been most satisfied by] the work ethic of the players. If you’ve got that, you have something to work with straight away.

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“They seem to be a very honest group of players as well, and I think there is a quiet determination amongst them to try and get away from this position we’re in and to improve.

“When you haven’t won in the first 11 league games, there’s room for improvement there. There are some good players in the dressing room to achieve that.

“I still think in January, it will be a natural process of two or three coming in and two or three going out, just to try and help and freshen things up a bit.

“But in the next six or seven weeks, we have a lot of points to play for and it’ll be the squad that we’ve seen over the last few games that will be trying to achieve that.”

Stags’ new boss fielded a mixed lineup for Tuesday evening’s win, and spoke of the ‘maturity’ on show from the younger element of his team selection.

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There was also a comment on 17-year-old striker Nathan Caine (below), who made his debut from the bench at Sands Venue Stadium.

“When you think of young players, you think 18 to 19-year-olds that have just come out of the academy, but some of them [who played against Scunthorpe] are 20 or 21 now and have had a little bit of experience,” he added.

“They’re not babies going into the first team environment and I think they showed that as well. They showed that little more maturity and experience – they did well and they’ve been backing up the first team squad very well so far.

“It’s the first thing we do when we come in; we work very closely with the academy and asked them who is their best player, and they said Nathan [Caine].

“Even at 2-1, when the game was in the balance, we still put him on the pitch to get that experience.

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“Every youth team player that comes out of the academy – if they are good enough – will get an opportunity here.”

This weekend, the Stags travel to Forest Green Rovers, their fourth away fixture in a row. Nigel Clough says that his side can take ‘confidence’ into the weekend’s game following two wins on the bounce.

“I think it’s one of the toughest we could’ve had, especially as a first league game away from home,” said the boss.

“I think the way that Mark Cooper’s teams play provides you with a different sort of test than a lot of League Two sides.

“The confidence we can take from the last two games, we can take that into another game away from home. We want Forest Green to be thinking about us as well – ‘what are Mansfield going to do against us?’

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“As much as we can worry about Forest Green, we concentrate first and foremost on us doing our jobs.”

The boss also spoke of assistant manager Gary Crosby and head of recruitment Simon Clough, who he brought to the club last Friday on the day of his appointment as manager.

“We’ve been watching football – me and Simon [Clough] – for about 40 to 50 years now. We’ve been watching games since growing up with my dad and Peter Taylor.

“[We know] what to look for in a player and what we don’t like in a player. Simon joined us at Derby because I couldn’t think of anybody better to be the head of recruitment.

“We’ve all got to share the same views, which we do. We all see the same thing, and if we all tick that box [when scouting], it’s a guarantee that we’ll try and bring that player in.

“It just works. I think there is a good chemistry between us and we know our roles. We complement each other well.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full on mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

Match passes are available for Saturday’s fixture against Forest Green, and can be purchased for just £10 here.


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