OPINION: Mansfield Town have made great strides but they are unlikely to make the play-offs this year

Mansfield Town's Mal Benning loses his marker - Pic Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's Mal Benning loses his marker - Pic Chris Holloway

They always say “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” – there’s never a truer word said from that quote in footballer terms.

Now I’m not the type of columnist to make personal attacks on people, nor am I the type to a written form of boot licking – I try to balance everything I write and base what is written on my own thoughts and views.

Game by game Mansfield’s play-off hopes seem to edge slightly into the distance, narrow defeats and a lack of firepower is the obvious problem, and sadly in the end I believe it’s this which will see Murray’s men fall short.

Although, as I’m sure I’ll write in future weeks, falling short would be something I wouldn’t bemoan – already this season we have made giant strides.

With Adi Yusseff banned for five matches (four more to serve now), and craig Westcarr shipped out to Southport – the only out and out strikers we have for the foreseeable future are Chris Beardsley and Matt Green, unless of course Murray can pull a masterstroke and add another to the ranks.

Yes Blair and Daniel can both play up top if required, but it’s not a question of who plays where really is it? The fact of the matter is, we aren’t scoring – in the top half of the table, we have the lowest goals scored.

Because of this, you naturally look at the front line – in our case, one man who will forever hold heroic status, Matt Green. There’s no question that he has goals in him, but at the moment I don’t think the best judging panel in the world could conclude the argument if we are any better off with him this season than we were without him in the previous two seasons.

Green will forever be a hero and you will see in his demeanour on the pitch that the lack of goals compared to what we (and he) know he’s capable of frustrates him. Is league two a different ball game to the conference? Is the fact he spent the best part of two seasons in the Championship in the physio’s company to blame? Or is it the formation?

Everyone will have their own view and opinion, proved by the fact that on “Family Fortunes” when they surveyed 100 people on a topic, there would NEVER be an occasion where everyone said the same thing.

Personally I think that players only click in certain styles of play or with certain players – for the geeks amongst you – it’s like when certain software only works on certain operating systems (and for the non-geeks, think square pegs in round holes – apply enough force it’ll work, but it’ll never be quite right).

Matt Green was confident and effective in getting behind the back line from flick ons and direct balls – the final third of the pitch was always his to dominate.

Yet now, he is timid and often has his oxygen supply cut, by having to drop deeper and having someone to feed off.

He’ll still get the goals, but at a reduced percentage to before – even just writing that, I may have identified another problem – we only ever watch the Matt Green from the conference!

The front man said himself prior to his return, if he were to come back he’d love to play with Matt Rhead.

Green said that the now Lincoln hit man always knew where to find him and how to unlock doors for him.

Rhead was always slated for his burley presence and direct play, perhaps we spent so long looking at who put the ball in the net and grabbed the plaudits that we underestimated Rhead’s part in the success.

Alright maybe it wouldn’t have working in League Two with Green, but perhaps this is one of those cases of “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone”.

Not for a second am I suggesting that Murray bring back Rhead, I’m never really a fan of bringing back old faces – there’s always a reason why they left in the first place.

I don’t entirely think Rhead would fit into Murray’s philosophy of getting the ball on the deck and trying to get round teams, not that Rhead isn’t articulate enough for that – but because in the system Murray uses, you need a player with pace and venom in equal measure, playing of someone who can hold box to box and create.

It’s pleasing to see Rhead doing well at Lincoln, they know how effective he can be and his stats don’t lie – he’s delivering.

On Mansfield’s play-off push – I think we should look at how far we’ve come and start laying a base for going one better next season.

I don’t think they’ll be a mass clear out in the summer, nor do I think there’ll be an influx of new faces.

It’s about balance and getting the rhythm going again – the potential is there within the dressing room.

We’re matching teams equally, but just not getting the just rewards at the moment.

There’s still a long way to go for sure, had it not been for a few near misses in the last few games we could be sitting here talking about something different entirely.

Again that’s the nature of football isn’t it – everyone has their view, and their opinion and each person will differ from the next.

I’ve said it before that I don’t think Murray’s men have the firepower to finish in the play-offs, but by equal measure I’ll spend every match day 100% behind them willing them to prove my niggling doubts wrong and push for three points.

A final thought for this week then is this, in a family fortunes style survey for fun, answer the following – What do you expect from Mansfield Town this season? I guarantee they’ll be a range of answers.

Who’d have it any other way though?!