Adam Murray says he is ready to let his Mansfield Town side off the leash against visitors Crawley Town this Saturday as they look for their first home win following three 1-1 draws.
The Stags boss admitted he has had to set up more defensively while his new-look side gelled but, happy with the discipline they are showing at the back, he now wants them to go out and express themselves more.
Murray said: “I looked at Saturday and it was a great ‘away’ performance at home and that’s the building blocks we’ve put in place so far. We looked solid and hard to beat and Saturday was another one that I only saw them winning because of our mistakes.
“We played in the wrong areas at times and we took risks when we didn’t really need to take risks. It’s about moving our game a little further up the pitch now and being a little more of an attacking threat – especially at home.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been by design but with a new group of players you have to put foundations in first. We couldn’t go into the season, especially with the way our league is. League Two is blood and thunder and if you go out there too ‘gung-ho’ you will get found out.
“What I wasn’t going to do was go, right we are going to play and try to win every game 6-0 and come out losing 3-2 or 3-1. I wanted to make sure as a base the team knew its jobs without the ball. I wanted to make sure we knew defensively this is how we go about things as, if you get that right, everything else is a bonus and you can build on that.
“But what we have to do now, especially at home, is be a little bit braver – that’s me included. We have to be a bit more, I wouldn’t say adventurous, but a little more forward thinking. But we are aware of that.
“It’s a good place to be. It’s minor tweaks that are going to make us a very good team which is a real positive.”
Last weekend saw a 1-1 home draw with AFC Wimbledon and Murray said: “It was a strange one. I won’t say it was disappointing as we didn’t lose. Not to lose is always good.
“But we need to start turning these draws into wins now. Saturday was really frustrating as the goal we conceded, we were well aware of that strength and then we didn’t really didn’t get into our mode or into our flow. There was no rhythm about it. We looked a little bit disjointed at times.
“It was the first time that we looked like we were a new team together Saturday. It was always going to happen. We were always going to have a game where it was like that. So it was probably one of our biggest learning curves on Saturday.
“I said after the game to go through a performance like that, where we weren’t quite at it, and not lose, that’s a plus point we have to take out of it because last year, with all due respect, we’d have got beat 4-0 there Saturday.”
He added: “So to be one point outside of the play-offs with six games gone, would we have took that before the season? I think we all would have. With the new intake we’ve had and the new era we are creating we were always going to have teething problems. We knew as a group that during those growing stages we had to pick points up. What we didn’t want was to be having the teething problems but not be picking any points up and be sitting third or fourth from the bottom of the table.
“So there is loads to work on. It was a really good learning curve on Saturday. The lads learned a lot and I learned a lot and the good thing is we know what we need to improve on and what we need to tweak to turn these performances into wins now. And what a great position that is. We are not thinking we need massive changes here because we are in trouble. We are actually looking at just minor tweaks here and there to get us wins.”
Mansfield’s biggest problem last weekend was not giving enough help to lone striker Matt Green.
Murray said: “Away from home at York we spoke about it before the game and the boys got it spot on that game.
“The wide players got involved, the midfield players got up to him. We didn’t do that Saturday. We were a little bit too cautious in our approach and then when we did have the ball we played a lot of square backwards passes that put ourselves in trouble.
“We left Greeny to battle away on his own. It’s something we have identified and have been working on this week and I believe we will see vast improvements in our team over the next month to six weeks.”
He added: “This first part of the season was always going to be let’s put some points on the board, let’s get our feet under the table and now we can start building.
“We’ve probably done it back to front haven’t we? It’s one of those where last season, with respect to everyone that was involved last season, we went into games, we’d go one-nil down and it could have ended up six or seven if we are being totally honest.
“We need to put a bit of metal, a little bit of steel, a little bit of organisation and discipline into the team so people know we are hard to beat. We are organised and, even on off days like Saturday, I never really felt threatened. It was only ever us who were going to ruin it on Saturday.
“Their front four on Saturday and the two lads they had on the bench are some of the strongest in the league attacking-wise. So we knew we would have to deal with that – and for large periods we did.
“We do look solid defensively so now it’s about looking at the other end. We need to get our wingers being wingers now. At the minute our wingers are great full backs which is brilliant. You look at the top teams like Chelsea and their wingers do the crappy stuff and hard work otherwise they don’t play.
“We’ve got our wingers doing that now. What we need to do now is get the balance now in allowing them to be the flair players that they are. And we will do that. It was always part of the process. I’ve spoken to a few people over the last few weeks and we can feel something bubbling here. When we do click into place in our defensive areas and our forward areas, someone will be on the end of a banging.
“I imagine some people on the outside are worrying, thinking we are not attacking enough. But believe it or not I actually have a clue what I am doing. We are not worried.
“The thing about this league it that is unforgiving. You go into it flimsy or not respecting it and thinking you are going to beat everyone three or four-nil, you will get your pants pulled down.
“It’s a case of we have put a structure in place here, the team that plays and the lads that are not involved, they know their roles and their jobs.
“Our job now is to make sure we are a little bit more on the front foot, especially at home, that we are a little bit more forward thinking and it comes down to me because I have been a little bit secure in my approach to games and I need to take the shackles off a little bit and let people go and express themselves.
“It’s been a massive learning curve for everyone over the last months and the scary thing is we are four and a half weeks in and it feels like six months. We have learned a lot over this first period. I said from pre-season all we would do is grow and grow and we are in a really good place.”