With two back to back wins on the road, I’m pleased to see that the issue about the absolute lack of effort and enthusiasm I spoke so disheartendly about last week has been addressed.
The next step is taking the change in attitude and embedding it into our next home game.
As ever though in the ocean of football, the good ship Mansfield has been rocked with the news that captain Nicky Hunt has been subject to an offer from another League Two club.
By the time this makes print on Wednesday, skipper Hunt may well have departed after missing Saturday’s 1-0 win at Crawley to hold talks with said new club.
I write this however on Sunday, at around 10.50am with Hunt still a Mansfield player.
I am resigned to the fact that Hunt will be gone perhaps before I’ve tucked into my Sunday Roast – for me, this is a bigger loss to the club than if we had lost one of the players always linked with moves elsewhere.
For Hunt, the rumoured destination of Leyton Orient (although at the time of writing there’s nothing but speculation in the air here) would see him link up with former Bolton team mate Kevin Nolan, who has just taken over as Player-Manager of the O’s.
Reading between the lines of the comments from Murray, the offer on the table from Hunts’ perspective is one of career development, so perhaps a player coach or player assistant role.
Murray has made the right decision here for all concerned in allowing Hunt to talk to the club, the last thing Mansfield would want is its captain, who has a massive influence in the camp, becoming unsettled and wanting away – in such a small, tight-knit environment, disruption is a killer.
Whilst Murray will not want to lose Hunt, this does highlight a side of the management we don’t see and one that the Stags boss is dealing with well.
At Hunt’s age a move of this nature is not just a case of buying and selling a footballer, it’s about life, development, looking to the future and looking after your family.
Like most players at Mansfield this season, Hunt will have been out of contract at the end of the season (although Stags will have an option to extend the deal for a further year) – it’s better to give a PERSON (I’ve used that word purposely) the chance to secure a future. If a coaching role is on the table for Hunt. It’s a chance for Hunt to gain coaching qualifications and move into employment within the game after the boots have been hung up – an opportunity like that for a player towards the back end of their playing career in the lower divisions is gold dust.
For a footballer, there are four ways to go once the full-time whistle has been blown on their career; coaching/management, media, “generic” work or nothing. You have to remember, just because the door is closed on a playing career – a player is still a person, who has to survive.
Only the privileged few, who have played constantly at the top level of the game earning million upon million can afford to put their feet up, we won’t mention battles with depression, booze, drugs etc.
Like I say, I’m pleased for Hunt to be given a chance to move on a develop – can you imagine what path Murray might have taken himself, had THAT fall out with Paul Cox not been repaired.
Mansfield lose a solid right back and experienced character, an excellent choice for captain – we really did miss him a few weeks or so ago when he was injured.
It is important that Murray moves quickly to replace him, both in the right-back slot and with an experienced leader. Murray’s not daft, he’ll have known about the approach for longer than we have – the only reason we find ourselves talking about it is the fact Hunt missed the trip to Crawley.
He will have a hit list of players to go for should (and for my money WHEN) the move be completed.
In terms of captain material, the obvious choice will be Lee Collins who, had it not been for a pre-season knock, would have been captain.
I’d have no qualms with that, although if Jamie McGuire we’re to be given an extended run in the side, his emergence as the new Mr Mansfield Town (see a much previous blog post!) would also be a good replacement leader.
Finally this week, it’s good to see Chris Beardsley back in action and getting some starts, we’ve been lacking a more physical presence upfront to support Matt Green in a more tradition 4-4-2 style (although Murray and no doubt some more of you will argue a more 4-1-3-2 style) and having Chris in there gives that missing puzzle piece. Mal Benning too, back earlier than expected – we’ll be appearing on those wonder goals clips again in no time!
That’s it for this week, good luck in your new venture Nicky. I wait with anticipation to see what magic rabbit Murray pulls out of the hat and if the good ship Mansfield continues to sail on smooth water.