Mansfield Town boss John Dempster hits back at criticism of team choice and tactics

Mansfield's Mal Benning with a rare first half opportunity against Macclesfield.
Mansfield's Mal Benning with a rare first half opportunity against Macclesfield.

Stags manager John Dempster has hit back at his critics who claim he set his side up too negatively for lasr Saturday’s 0-0 draw at crisis club Macclesfield Town.

Ahead of tomorrow’s game at leaders Swindon he also explained why he often brings his whole side back for defending corners, which is another major bugbear among some supporters.

Of his team selection at Macclesfield, he said: “We played with one sitting midfielder and two advanced whereas Macclesfield play with two sitters and one advanced.

“We were hoping to get more play in their half and final third and create more opportunities.

“But because of the conditions and sometimes a lack of quality, we didn’t get the ball in the right areas for long enough to have more waves of attacks or get our wings back higher.

“We did play with two centre forwards like we have the majority of the season whereas a lot of teams pay with one.

“We have been more attacking and positive with two centre forwards.

“So to say it was a negative set-up I would disagree.

“I think both teams countered each other out.”

Dempster added: “We did look to change it in the second half, making three substitutions, but Danny Rose going off injured obviously affected the last 10/15 minutes and in the end I don’t think it was a bad point.

“Maybe I could have brought Jacob Mellis on sooner. But football is very easy in hindsight.”

He also disagreed with those saying he should always have someone left up at corners.

“We don’t always have 11 players back for corners, but if you use the Colchester game as an example when some of the shouts were probably louder than previous games, we set up a certain way,” he said

“It’s not something new. Colchester had two players out taking the corner which allows them to pay short or put the ball in the box. So we send two players out to mark them.

“We have a keeper and two players who are zonal markers, one in the front hole by the post and the other in the six yard zone – their job is to go and head the ball away whether it’s an inswinging or out-swinging delivery.

“We mark the player that goes onto our goalkeeper.

“We also man to man mark the pod that go and attack the ball, that’s another four. Then we mark the player on the edge of the box as, if you don’t mark him, he can land on the ball and cause problems. So that’s XI players.

“If we could put an extra player on the pitch we would, but we can’t.”

He continued: “The debate is an interesting one as you’d either have to sacrifice the front post zone player or six yard zone player and, if you did that over the course of a season, you’d concede more goals than you will from leaving a player up.

“This is something the champions of Europe, Liverpool, do, the champions of England do the same in Manchester City and if you want a more kind of relative example, the teams currently in the top three in our division, Swindon, Forest Green and Bradford, they do the same.

“It’s not something uncommon or negative. It’s something a lot of teams do.”