Boss Graham Coughlan has called on his players to ‘signal their intent’ for the season in this Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two curtain-raiser at home to Tranmere Rovers.
The weekend will see the Stags play in their first league fixture since March – a 2-1 win away at now-Sky Bet League One outfit Northampton Town.
When asked about the new league campaign, ‘enthused’ and ‘excited’ were the words chosen by the boss ahead of Saturday’s 3pm kick-off.
“We’ve brought in a brand new squad and it [lockdown] has given us a lot of time to do our homework on the squad and get the players in,” he told iFollow Stags.
“I’ve missed football – I missed the club, I missed the players and I missed getting my teeth stuck into the job that was in hand.
“I’m really excited [for the league season]. The two games [against Preston and Man City under-21s] were tough opponents, but I’m really happy with my squad, individually and collectively.
“What we’ve put together, I’m really happy with the players, the character and the quality we’ve put together.
“Now it’s about coming together, working together and putting the final touches to it. I’m really enthused, excited and can’t wait to get going. All of the pre-season work is done now and I can’t wait for three o’clock on Saturday.
“Football doesn’t give you time – you have to hit the ground running. That will be my message to the players: go out and make a good first impression and signal your intent.
“For me, I have the problem of wanting to win every game and wanting to be the best I possibly can. I want that for the players and I want that for the club.
“Our time has to be Saturday and the month of September – we can’t afford to be waiting or hanging about for people to gel – I want that now.
“There is an excitement and a hunger about them [the squad] and I’m really looking forward to getting going.
“I have every confidence in this group. I have every confidence in the club, in the staff and we will be honest and competitive.”
The manager says that his side will need to be ‘honest’ and ‘hard-working’ to have the chance of success this term.
“We have good people here and a good structure and organisation to us. We’ll give it a go and we’ll be honest and hard-working,” he added.
“We’ve got a mountain to climb from where we were. We were 21st last season, so we have to pick ourselves up off the canvas.
“We have serious business ahead and a serious amount of work to get through, if we’re to stay away from that end of the table.
“Not a lot of clubs will have big squads this season so that will be an even keel. It will be a really competitive division.
“But I’m just concerned with ourselves rather than looking at anyone else. I’ll be talking to the players about having a winning mentality, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets.”
Reviewing Saturday’s opponents, Tranmere, Graham Coughlan said: “Tranmere are a big, strong team and will be tough opponents. I think they’ll always be there or thereabouts, irrespective of what division they’re in.
“They have some good players and it will be a test on Saturday. But we’ll meet every challenge and give it our best.”
There was also an injury update from the Stags’ chief: “We’re all good – apart from Joe [Riley], the pre-season has gone really, really well [in terms of injuries].
“The Joe Riley one hit me hard if I’m being honest with you. It hit him hard and it hit the dressing room hard.
“I believe we’re all fit and healthy and there’s a good feel about the club and the training ground.”
Graham Coughlan also confirmed the appointment of former Carlisle United strength and conditioning coach David Waldie, who has joined the coaching setup at One Call Stadium.
“We’ve brought a strength and conditioning coach in – I’m big on that. It will help not only with the first team and the under-21s, but the under-18s as well.
“David Waldie has come in with a military background and a strength and conditioning background.
“Anyone carrying any extra pounds, they’re in the right place with David. A massive part of strength and conditioning is injury prevention, so David will lead that.
“We’re trying to bring the football together and build. We’ve made massive strides off the pitch, so now it’s over to the players to make massive strides on the pitch.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the boss’ interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Match passes are available for Saturday’s game against Tranmere at just £10. To purchase your match pass, click here.