Testing Times For Mansfield

It has been a tough week for Mansfield Town, a loss on Saturday at relegation strugglers Crawley and then a painful home draw with eighteenth placed Newport County on Tuesday night, how do the Stags now regroup the players and keep their promotion push on track?

Since Nigel Clough took over at Mansfield ahead of the 2021/22 season, the former Burton Albion man has accumulated an average of 1.64 points per game at Field Mill, in what has been a brilliant move for both parties.

After last season’s play off final heartbreak, it was important that Town went again and made sure they were up for the fight this season, searching for that promotion they were so close to last May where they got as far as Wembley. They have had an impressive start once again this campaign, with the Stags sitting in 4th in the League Two table, four points off that final automatic spot with a game in hand on third placed Northampton Town.

However, the past two games have seen a slight stumble for the Stags, and after Saturdays 3-2 defeat away at Crawley Town, Nigel Clough spoke, saying, “Nobody’s place is safe for the next game”, a strong message sent out by the Stags boss and one he didn’t back down on as he made three changes and switched the system up for the draw at home against Newport County on Tuesday evening.

We’ve had rough patches before whilst Clough has been in charge of the Stags, this time last year the club were sitting 23rd in the table without a win in twelve before picking themselves up to lose just one of their next sixteen, but some Mansfield fans may worry about how he will get out of this particular sticky run and get there side back on the straight.

From his time at Burton, his side were always known for grinding out wins and playing ‘ugly’ football. It didn’t always go to plan, with a small ageing squad at the time, Clough always had to think of new ways to find wins.

One thing every Burton fan like me will remember, is how ruthless he was with changes each week. Like his comments after Crawley proved, he isn’t scared to drop players for underperforming. In my opinion, it’s not always a smart move. When in a bad run, making tons of changes just to find a win, doesn’t always work. Players chopped and changed aren’t getting used to each other in a certain systems each week and it can create a sense of unease within the players who are concerned  selected, that they could be dropped for the next match.

The Stags will want to sort it out quickly, League Two is a tough league and before you know it, a few losses could see you drop down the table quicker than you think. At Burton, Clough didn’t have as much pressure to find results, he was managing a side who were never expected to win each week, unlike Mansfield who are front runners for promotion, that underdog feeling suited Burton, and Clough, to go out and cause an upset.

At Mansfield they are seen as one of the big clubs in the league, fans expect them to pick up results and a run of losses and draws will add pressure on Clough. The change in performance will need to happen quickly as the table becomes a lot tighter at the top. Keeping it simple and sometimes going back to the basics will be at the top of Clough’s mind as he looks to start picking up points again. Give players time to work on his system and again show their quality on the pitch.

Stags fans, like they were at the start of last season, must be patient, Nigel Clough is an experienced manager with over 700 games under his belt. With high flying Swindon coming to Field Mill on Saturday, it will be no better game to turn this mini-blip around and beat a team on their backs for promotion to League One.

*Article provided by Dan Dodd (Football Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc it was a frustrating point at home to Newport on Tuesday.

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