In every journey there comes a time where all the testing, tweaking and reflections on previous failures has to stop, and a time where you must leap forward and try again.
That time for John Dempsters’ Mansfield Town is now, following the pre-season schedule concluding with a 4-2 victory over Rangers U23s.
The question, though, is are we ready? To be honest, I wouldn’t have been fully convinced of an answer prior to the Rangers game, however, given the addition of Kellan Gordan to the squad and seeing Dion Donohue get some minutes rather than be another body clogging up the physio room, the levels of satisfaction in having a plan B and strength in depth has certainly been raised.
Looking back over what went wrong previously and making comparisons with former squads is a recipe for disaster.
However, I’m positive that we have a squad in a far better shape in terms of numbers and the ability to adapt to whatever is thrown at us — and I am now looking forward to the big kick-off against Newport next weekend.
Our recruitment has not been rushed, it’s been a methodical approach and, from what I’ve seen so far, it’s paid off with Cook and Maynard really showing what they’re capable of in terms of nullifying the worry of replacing Tyler Walker.
Whilst we only got a glimpse of Donohue, his distribution from the centre of the park really stretched Rangers U23s and helped proved the difference in the final third of the game.
New boy Kellan Gordan, too, will not only provide competition for White, once fit, but would prove a first class addition with the ability to play in a number of roles down the right hand side.
The new additions and new regime appear so far to have brought more quality out of other players too.
Danny Rose is starting to grow in confidence and become even more effective, and Otis Khan is likewise proving that players are not just here to make up the numbers, but to create a really competitive squad.
Reflecting on the match itself, I think it was the best game of pre-season, having to manage conditions more suited to a long season.
The screw can still be tightened at the back, but that will come. What was more pleasing is the way we scored the four goals and created chances throughout, utilising set plays, but also getting the ball wide and overloading key areas with the right balance.
If I was being made to be uber critical, I’d want to see a little more intensity with our pressing in the opponents’ half and I’d like to see Neal Bishop drop a little deeper to get more out of him and those around him.
But, what’s important at this stage is managing minutes, getting the shape right and being in the right place mentally and physically to start a new season, and FINALLY achieve our dream.
There’s a long road ahead, are we ready? There’s only one way to find out — it’s time to jump in!