Despite arriving with the club 18th in League Two, new Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans is convinced the club can still gain promotion this season.
Stags are still only three points off the top seven ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Crawley and when asked if Stags could go up this time around, Evans said: “Yes, but it is going to be tough and we are going to have to have the odd refereeing decision going in our favour - which will be the first in six years!
“We are going to have to deliver some big results. You look at the size and tradition of some of the clubs in the league.
“But we wouldn’t have come here if we didn’t believe we could have a successful season.
“We come also with a bit of realism to know it’s going to be tough.
“But if you were starting out at the start of the season and picking the top five or six clubs that you would join if you were a player, Mansfield Town would be one of them.
“We have total respect for the clubs at the top end of this league who are playing, the Portsmouths, the Plymouths, the Lutons, but we want to be in and among them. Football is a marathon so let’s see where we are in January.”
Evans initially faces two home games, where Stags have struggled to perform all season, but said he didn’t care where the points came.
“We have the same amount of away games as home games and it’s about an amalgamation of points,” he said.
“We got promoted at Rotherham United with a not great home record but an absolutely fantastic away record.
“At the end of the season we were celebrating year-upon-year promotions, so it takes just a points accumulation. That’s tough to get in a league with some wonderful clubs.”
Most Stags fans are delighted to see a manager of Evans’ experience and record of success join the club, though he is aware he not everyone’s cup of tea.
“Just give us an opportunity,” he said.
“I said it at Elland Road to the Leeds United supporters and I think at the end they were appreciative of what we did.
“I took over a club at Rotherham United that were very similar to Mansfield Town in every shape – a great chairman, someone that is going to back the success – and a passionate support.
“So come and get behind the team. There will be good days and there will be down days – there always is.
“But we are going to live and breathe this project. It would have been easier to take a club at a higher level going into a battle and situation that’s not quite level.
“But I wanted to go back to almost the situation at Rotherham where I worked with a very calming influence and was allowed almost to dictate what we did on a daily basis.”
Evans continued: “I think my representatives were talking to two or three clubs. We’ve been talking to a number of clubs since the summer, but it’s not about any other club now, it’s about Mansfield Town.
“If we’d have been 18th and 12/15 points off the play-offs I think the chairman might have had a harder job.
“But, as you’d expect, when the chairman made the call to me, it was very evident how the league table was and what the opportunity is.”