Colourful manager Steve Evans has been a big hit with 99.9% of Mansfield Town’s fans since he came to the club in November.
He was seen as a breath of fresh air blowing like a hurricane through the club. His positivity, experience, will to win and ability to engage with the supporters from day one transformed the Stags season.From worried looks over their shoulders at the possibility of another dreaded relegation battle, fans were suddenly given hope of good times around the corner.
Positive, attacking play on the pitch; a feelgood factor in the stands; a rise up the League Two table; exciting signings; generous ticket offers by the owners - the reasons to be cheerful at the One Call Stadium have grown week by week since November.
So it is understandable that rumours of a big-money offer from Qatar for the Stags’ popular manager sent fans’ websites and social media into meltdown this week.
No one in amber and blue, it seems, wants to lose Evans - either now as a promotion race reaches its exciting finale or for next season, whichever division the Stags are in.
It reminded me of the time back in the 1980s when the last vastly-experienced manager to lead the club, Ian Greaves, was also the subject of a tantalising offer to manage elsewhere.
In his case it was West Bromwich Albion who came knocking at the Stags’ door.
Initial doubts at the validity of the story turned to a campaign to keep the manager when it seemed as though he might leave the club, including a sitdown protest on the pitch.
Greaves, not quite the flamboyant, showman character of Evans, was embarrassed by the extreme nature of the support, but nevertheless welcomed the fans’ feelings - and that played a major part in his decision to stay.
No doubt there would have been a similar outpouring of persuasion aimed at Evans had he not knocked the Qatar offer on its head.
After a few days of frenzied speculation, Evans confirmed the rumours of the job offer in the Middle East were true - despite what many thought - but he said he would not be going anywhere. In a nutshell, he loves working at Mansfield Town Football Club as much as the fans love him.
And why wouldn’t he? Any initial doubts from some fans were quickly dispelled by his openness, willingness to meet and talk to the supporters, bring exciting football on the pitch and become part of John Radford’s dream to take the Stags up the divisions.
Right from his decision in his first week to move the dugouts to in front of the Ian Greaves Stand, Evans has found a strong bond with the fans.
He is even name-checked in the fans’ new song - I’m Into Something Good.
OPINION: Something tells me Mansfield Town are on to something good
Stags boss Evans assures fans he’s staying put despite lucrative Qatar offer
No doubt the song will be sung louder than ever on Saturday as the fans will surely celebrate the news that Evans is going nowhere - apart, perhaps, from to League One!
The visit of play-off rivals Exeter City is, without doubt, the most important match of the season for everyone connected with Mansfield Town FC - the owners, management team, players and supporters.
Victory could see the Stags leapfrog Exeter into the play-off places with just a handful of matches remaining. The temperature at the One Call Stadium is likely to be as hot as the Middle East - and three points and a raucous atmosphere would mean it can only get hotter!