The decision to leave Mansfield Town Football Club was very much that of Paul Cox as the manager departed after three and a half years last night.
Cox had heart-to-heart chats with his wife and chairman John Radford amid growing pressure on his position after nine games without victory.
Fans had been increasingly on his back and he came under a lot of pressure at the Stags Supporters’ Association questions and answers on Thursday.
With protests planned against his tenure today, Cox suddenly decided he had reached his sell-by date with the club he brought up from the obscurity of the Conference to such joy only two seasons back.
Today’s programme notes by Radford, penned before his departure, stressed he would continue to back his manager and that, despite his recent record, Radford felt Cox had earned more time with his success so far at the club.
He also urged fans to back Cox. But by the time they arrived at the ground today, Adam Murray was in charge as caretaker boss and players in shock.
Earlier Cox had explained his decision to go, saying: “I spoke to the chairman about 10 days back. There was a bit of frustration. We had a good chat and I decided to carry on. But my head knew I probably needed a new challenge.
“I have had three amazing seasons and we have achieved every goal we set out to do. We have put some great infrastructure into the club from U14s to the youth team.
“I just felt now was the time to move on and take on another challenge.
“It was my approach to the chairman that set the ball rolling. He has been fantastic with me and a pleasure to work with. I have enjoyed every minute of it and he is the reason I have stayed here as long as I have.
“It is no secret I have had one or two approaches from other clubs but I have remained loyal to the club and the chairman.
“On Thursday night I sat down with my wife and we had a good chat about our future and I took it from there.
“I have achieved a lot at this football club and it will always have a very special place in my heart. But I want to challenge myself and I need a fresh challenge.”
On the heated SSA meeting on Thursday, he said: “There were a lot of passionate people who care about their football club. I was one of them and I let off steam as well.
“But it had been on my mind a while. Sometimes you can be at a football club too long and become part and parcel of the furniture and lose your impetus.
“I am not saying that has happened, but I did feel like I needed a new start.
“I am now going to have a break first and foremost and recharge my batteries.
“I have been in work consistently for eight years and in that time I have never been sacked.
“I have won two or three championships, four or five promotions and come through about eight levels of football.
“Now it’s just about standing still, having a look and and seeing where my next challenge may be.”
The reduced budget and a long list of injuries have not helped his cause this season, and he said: “Money is everything as it buys you the better players. It is no secret this season our budget is probably in the bottom reaches of the League. Having said that I have put together a decent squad. But the culmination of so many injuries, 10-11 players, that’s going to have an impact.”
Cox then backed his former assistant Murray to go for the job, adding: “It’s too soon to say but he has aspirations to be a manager. It is a tough scenario to come into, but what is an easy job these days?
“You have to grab every opportunity by the hands and grasp it.
“I hope for everyone that the club goes on a fantastic set of results and climbs into a healthy position.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support and I wish the club all the success in the future.”
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