Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox says squad must learn to cope with promotion pressure

Stags v Newport
Stags v Newport

Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox says his promotion-chasing team must manage the weight of expectation better.

Cox believes the pressure placed upon his title-chasing squad was a major factor in Mansfield Town’s opening week defeats against Newport County and Gateshead.

Speaking during Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Cox said: “I think the expectation levels got to one or two people and we have got to be very careful that expectation levels do not get on top of the players. It is something we may need to manage better.

“We need to forget the hype, the talk, the expectation and the criticism that is on the club. If we do that we have a chance.

“We had a good pre-season, but until you get into competitive football you do not know how things will go.”

Stags rallied in convincing fashion at the weekend with an impressive 3-2 win at Kidderminster, a result Cox hopes will now kickstart his team’s season.

“It was a relief to get some points on the board on Saturday with a good performance,” said Cox. “We created lots of chances and could have won more comfortably in the end.

“We have got a technically better squad this year, but as a team it takes time to gel and for the players to understand each other.

“The mood in the camp is good right now. You cannot manufacture team spirit, it happens over time. This week we have had a bit of a jolt and have had our backs against the wall, but that has helped team spirit.

“The music was playing in the dressing room after the Kidderminster game and their is a good unity amongst the players.

“The lads understand what this season is all about and the pressure that is on them. It looked like the lads were enjoying their football on Saturday which is pleasing to see.

“The league does not really shape up until after Christmas so there is no reaason for panic stations.

“There will be times when we play badly, but the mark of a club is how we react during the bad times and on Saturday the boys reacted superbly.

“We have to expect criticism at times and I have broad shoulders and can take the criticism, but we are only three games into the season and we need to be realistic about things.

“We had two bad results and we held our hands up, but the players do not become bad ones over night. We will keep working hard to make sure we have the right formula to be successful this season.”

On Saturday