Make-or-break December for Mansfield Town and future of boss John Dempster
John Dempster has acknowledged December will be make-or-break for his career as Mansfield Town manager and the side's promotion hopes.
Saturday's visit of Cheltenham Town is the first of five games against sides in the play-offs battle and he said: “This month is massive and I won't hide away from the fact the pressure is on.
“December will be key to not only my future but also the future of the club. That's how big it is.
“Over the last month I have spoken to the chairman once or twice a week. He is a very experienced man so I will always take his advice on dealing with the pressure and different scenarios.
“He has emphasised his faith in me so that gives me confidence, but equally he has been realistic with me as well and it's clear results need to change or there will be bigger changes.
“So far I have not been enough as a manager and the players have not been good enough individually.
“But we have come through a lot worse as a football club and I have come through worse as a person.
“The emphasis now is on bravery and stepping up. This is a really tough time for the football club. People that care are saddened and depressed and we need to change that quick.
“These are challenging times. We can't hide away from that.
“But, when you're asking your players to be courageous and brave and play with an intensity no matter what the situation, myself as manager and staff members need to do the same.”
This is Dempster's first role as a senior club's manager and he admitted it had been a tough baptism off fire since his summer appointment.
“There have been some dark times. My lowest points in my 20 years in professional football have come in this reign as manager,” he said.
“I carry the can. When I hear the negativity and the moans it frustrates me, but that is because I care.
“I want these players to do well and be successful. It hasn't happened thus far. But I will give it my all forever.
“It's really tough and when you're not getting the results you delve even deeper into everything you do.”
Already the job has given him a massive insight into his own previous managers.
“Even though I have been in the business for 20 years and you think you've seen everything, it's not until you're in the hot seat that you feel that pressure and understand why your previous managers have perhaps acted in a certain way,” he said.
“I used to look at my former managers and think 'what's up with him? Is he all right? Why is he so stressed?'
“It's clear to me now though.
“I am a young manager who has been given an unbelievable opportunity, which I have earned, and I have never been more determined to make this happen.
“In the real world there are people that are losing their jobs in higher divisions than me or in our division in a similar position to us who maybe have not had as much financial backing with the size and depth of the squad we've got.”
Dempster added: “I do feel the pressure. But in the 36 years I have been on the earth I have generally done quite well at whatever I have applied myself to.
“That's not being arrogant or big-headed. That's a fact.
“My plan is to be successful here. The chairman has put faith in me. He is a very experienced businessman who has also been in football a long time as well and I intend to repay him.
“That needs to happen quickly in this next short period otherwise, let's be realistic, there will be changes.
“I am confident. I believe in myself and I believe in this group of players.
“Things need to change in terms of form but a couple of wins can make things very different.”
Whether he finally gains success or gets the sack, Dempster said he owed everything to Mansfield Town.
“My loyalty to this football club has been repaid already,” he said.
“The chairman and the board have been unbelievable to me. So whatever happens going forward, there will be no bitterness from me.
“I am owed nothing by this football club, I owe it all to them. And that's what makes it tougher when you are going through these dark times and you want to get results. I do have sleepless nights over it.”