Mansfield Town have given warm praise to Premier League Leicester City and Championship club Milton Keynes Dons for their attitudes and help during the past week’s superb home pre-season friendlies.
Both games produced entertaining 1-1 draws and Stags boss Adam Murray said: “They have been superb. I can’t speak highly enough of the two clubs that have come.
“With Karl and Ritchie (Robinson and Barker) at MK, they allowed me to nick their sports scientist for an hour before the game. I kept him too long and he missed some of their warm-up.
“I managed to get some valuable information from a club that’s doing really well. There are little bits I picked out that I will be using.
“The kind of teams they put out on the pitch gave us more than a test. It was nice of them to come here and respect our environment, respect our fans and also respect our team on the pitch. We got a lot out of the games as they did.
“We have got a really good relationship with Leicester as we showed last year with Callum (loanee Elder).
“We are building good bridges with local clubs, not only professionally but also grassroots as well. We are getting some of our kids out on loan which helps the local clubs and also helps us as they will be playing men’s football and understanding the importance of the three points.”
Murray has chosen not to plan in another friendly this Saturday, preferring instead to work his squad hard on the training ground, tweaking things he has seen in the games, before ultimately keeping them fresh for the big kick-off on Saturday week.
“We have a couple of things lined up, but it was always the case going into this last couple of weeks that we should have, and we have, got the minutes that we wanted and I believe the training ground is the most important place for the lads now,” he said.
“We can get to work on the little bits and bobs we must improve on, tweak certain things, and get to drill them in the way we want to perfect things.
“We’ve got things lined up if we need them (games-wise), but we are not overly fussed about more game time.
“The games we’ve had have worked perfectly for us. The build-up we had working from Rainworth into Leicester, we wanted different things out of different games and our training schedule was based around that.
“Credit to the group for the work they have been putting in on the training ground which they’ve taken onto the pitch. They’ve seen the things we are trying to put into them are right.
“We are still a million miles away from where we want the team to be which was always going to be the case. We have 13 new bodies in and we’ve had three weeks work so we can’t expect things overnight, but we are on the right track.
“We wanted to go into these last two weeks with objectives we wanted to get into the boys on the training ground and so far it’s working to plan.”
He added: “We know what they can do with the ball and, attacking-wise, we’ve shown we can create problems.
“We’ve made sure we got the right work in over the last seven days to tweak the defensive side of things to get that discipline and organisation into us.
“People in the game, who’s opinions I respect and have come to watch us pre-season, have said we look organised and disciplined.
“I think if you have that in a side then that’s the biggest base you can get to start everything else from.
“It’s something, not just pre-season but over the season, that we will drill into people until they get bored of it. But it’s one of the biggest things that wins you football matches.
“We will make sure everyone knows what they are doing and what their team mates are doing and we will be a very organised side.
“We have signed players who are relaxed in possession, we’ve signed clever players and people with distribution in all areas that are very good.
“Over the next weeks we have now got to make that effective for League Two. With the way we play there will be an element of risk but I am happy with that.”
Murray said he was delighted to see his new-look pre-season regime of working with the ball from the start and not running players for the same of it, looks to have paid off perfectly.
“There is no game this weekend, so the lads are in for a tough week this week,” he said.
“I said from the off it wouldn’t be your normal pre-season. There’d be no running round tracks, no doing 400m or 800m. It’s been working with the ball at high intensity, though you have to manage the load and not risk injury.
“They’ve been sessions where you end up with knocks and bruises from day one. But we have managed that and, so far, come out of it okay. You’ve seen the fitness levels in the games.
“The boys have looked sharp and match fit which you get from playing games and training with footballs. We are happy where we are at.”