In Wednesday morning’s news conference, boss Nigel Clough spoke of the progress that the Stags have made since he first watched them at home to Walsall, ahead of Saturday’s trip to face the Saddlers in Sky Bet League Two.
Alongside assistant Gary Crosby, the soon-to-be Mansfield manager watched on from the stands as caretaker boss Richard Cooper guided the Stags to a 1-1 draw against Walsall at One Call Stadium in late October.
Since then, the amber and blue have improved dramatically, sitting 11 points clear of the drop, having won their last five matches in Sky Bet League Two.
Nigel Clough explained why he believes there has been a significant improvement in form, while also previewing Saturday’s match away at Banks’s Stadium.
“First of all, I think how Darrell Clarke goes about it is brilliant, how he sets his teams up to compete,” he told iFollow Stags.
“Walsall will be there or thereabouts again, and it will be one of our toughest games on Saturday.
“[I don’t expect the game to be] more difficult [than Southend], just different challenges. The strikers and the players that they have there [Walsall] will cause us different sorts of problems.
“It’s very difficult to quantify that [progress since home match against Walsall]. We’ve won a few games and confidence is high, that was the biggest thing that was missing.
“We were very impressed in that game [against Walsall] with the work rate, and that hasn’t changed. We just saw some good players that needed a boost.
“You see a different sort of team now. We’re halfway through the season now and are 11 points clear of the bottom two, which has lifted everybody’s spirits.
“There’s nothing worse than being restricted in how you play, so I think you’re seeing the players perform with a bit more freedom now.
“We have supporters who just want a bit of success and to have a team that they can identify with. We want to try to be positive, score goals, entertain, and win.”
The Stags were due to be in action on Tuesday evening, but their scheduled clash with Bolton Wanderers was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Nigel Clough discussed the postponement, adding: “We’re disappointed and frustrated [with the postponement], but it’s understandable. Once frost gets in the ground, it’s hard to remedy.
“We’re frustrated as the pitch may have been playable by seven, but the referee has to make an early decision at lunchtime.
“The referee had a decision to make, but with the groove that we’re in, we want to keep playing games.
“We’re a bit frustrated, but we have to use that on Saturday. It would’ve been a good time to play the game in conditions that probably would have suited us.”
The boss also outlined his plans for the remainder of the January transfer window.
“We’re generally happy with the squad. There is no need for wholesale changes. You see clubs bringing in four or five players, but we’re fortunate to be in the position of being happy with the squad.
“We’ll just do a bit of tinkering. A couple [of incomings] would be nice.”
There was also an update on skipper Ollie Clarke, who is expected to be fit in time for the weekend’s clash with Walsall.
“He [Clarke] has an opportunity to be fit [for Walsall]. He’s been out for two or three weeks, so whether he’ll come straight back in, we’re not sure.
“But it will certainly be nice to have him back in the squad and available. And that’s probably the only positive in having the [Bolton] game off.
“Whenever it’s rearranged for, he [Clarke] should be around and fit.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.