Craig Priest’s Mansfield Town blog: The time was right for Paul Cox to leave Stags

Stags manager Paul Cox.
Stags manager Paul Cox.

It’s the morning after the night before and as Stags fans we’re waking up on the morning of match-day looking forward to a new birth following the mutual decision between the Stags and boss Paul Cox to part company.

After reading numerous comments on social media from supporters, former players and journalists, I’ve come to my own conclusion that Cox’s exit was the right one, but will remember only positives about his spell in charge despite the recent, if we’re being completely honest, ten or so months of negative football and miserable results.

Mansfield Town's manager Paul Cox  -Pic by:Richard Parkes

Mansfield Town's manager Paul Cox -Pic by:Richard Parkes

Cox departs having led us back to the Football league as Champions and for that we have to be eternally grateful.

YOUR SAY: Stags fan Gerry Hyde reacts to Paul Cox departure
YOUR SAY: Fans react to Paul Cox’s departure
Paul Cox departs Mansfield Town

I do belief however that on some journeys, it’s in the best interests of everyone to follow a new leader before you end up back at square one.

This departure is a tough one for me as I’ve seen Paul in a number of lights, during his first two seasons at the helm and arguably his best two, I worked alongside him as a journalist getting to chat to him on a one to one level and get an insight of him as a professional.

I’ve dealt with managers that won’t give you the time of day never mind purposely stop and chat endlessly to you and make you feel welcome.

NMAC12-1280-1''STags Fan Craig Priest

NMAC12-1280-1''STags Fan Craig Priest

Since we’ve been back in the Football League, I’ve sadly been able to continue on the journalist side and instead have watched on as a supporter and like you have endured horrific football and have struggled to drag myself along to games.

I could fill this entire column with my thoughts so before I ramble on too much, I’ve decided to do something I haven’t done before. I’m going to write my final views on Paul below, head off to the game and then give my thoughts on what direction is next.

It’s fair to say it took a while to get going under Cox, however when it clicked, it clicked and delivered some of the most entertaining and enjoyable football I’ve ever witnessed.

Reaching the play-offs was a fine achievement and to be beaten in such a manner could have broken us, and did for a while, but soon again we we’re fixed and raced to the finishing line to end up back in the Football League.

Last term, having lost our leading goalscorer whose career was resurrected by Cox’s faith, we struggled and when a replacement couldn’t be found – other options were explored.

That’s when the slump began for me, our previous achievements were reached with a tight 4-4-1-1/4-4-2 using width and fluidity which got the best of Green. Switching to the 3-4-1-2 or 5-3-2 depending on your preference forced us to go narrow and play a playground like kick and rush which over time drained the players and us as supporters.

If I were to argue Cox’s case to stay longer, I could say that he’s been hampered by injuries along with budgetary constraints – having the likes of Luke Jones, Liam Hearn et el in the side would have made a difference, but again I guess that depends on the system, would Jones and Hearn suit the current system, no.

I hate looking at negatives but it’s the same for us all, we all have to learn from mistakes and perhaps if we had chances again, would do things differently.

It’s clear that Cox mistreated some players and, with the exception of Liam Marsden, doesn’t particularly back his own youth system which is a disappointment.

In conclusion it’s fair to say that NOBODY is ever going to be perfect, if everyone were perfect then there’d be no lessons to learn and frankly no point! Cox came in and lifted a negative club, he put bums on seats and delivered two tremendous endings to seasons getting us back to the football league. Last term despite losing a handful of key players to those aforementioned seasons he led us to an 11th placed finish with the springboard to build, sadly that hasn’t happened and now he leaves allowing the new broom to sweep us on to better things.

Thank-you Paul, good luck for the future – right I’d better head down to the One Call Stadium and see what magic wizard Murray can deliver as his caretaker ship begins.

What do you think? Email your views to Stephen Thirkill