Home advantage disappearing in football, says Stags boss Murray

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray'Picture by Dan Westwell
Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray'Picture by Dan Westwell

Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray said home advantage was going out of the game as tactical awareness grew and called on fans to help Stags to victory against struggling Stevenage on Saturday.

Currently six games unbeaten, Mansfield have only won twice at home as the season reaches its third of the way through point this weekend, but Murray pointed out home frustration was a growing trend and Stags were far from the worst.

“I know a lot has been made out of the home form,” he said. “But I can’t really be bothered to speak about it. We know it’s there and we are not the only club in this position.

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“You look at football in general at the minute – there was only one home win in our division last weekend.

“I think out of the whole three leagues, about 34/35 games, there were only eight home wins.

“The week before that, it was around the same number.

“The game has become a tactical minefield in the modern era.

“In the modern game players are more aware, fans are more aware and obviously managers and coaches are a lot more aware that the away performances now see sides want to use the home team’s so called advantage/strength as their weakness.

“We do it and every other team does it, not just in this league bit through the leagues.”

Murray continued: “Back in the day Jim Smith would go – ‘you’re away from home lads so get whatever you can and, don’t worry, we’re back at home next week.’

“That’s how the thought process was at home. It was a given that you’d win. Away you’d just get what you could. But the game has changed.

“It has become a very even playing field now. Last season in League Two over the whole season, I think it was something like 39 per cent home wins, 36 per cent away wins and the rest draws. There is no difference now.”

Murray said the only way to make a difference was the noise supporters made.

“The difference comes in the environment your home ground creates – and that’s where we need our supporters as they make the difference,” he said.

“You look at the game now, that’s how tight it is. The percentages and the facts don’t lie.

“Away teams go – you’re the home team, you’ve got to come out at us, your fans want you to attack, so we’re going to let you come out and then we’re going to sucker punch you. That’s the game. It happens at the top level and it happens in League Two.

“Yes you are the home team and you have to take that little bit more risk, but that’s my job.

“That is a personal thing for me. I know I am very structural in my work.

“But we are not the only club in the world of football at minute that has, I’m not going to say, home issues.

“We are 14th in the home table, so it’s not as if we are bottom and one more win takes us into the top 10 for home form. So it’s not a catastrophe.

“But for us to get into the higher regions and break that top seven barrier we have got to start picking three points up at home and we will be dong everything we can.

“We are looking at every single thing, as the margins are that tight in terms of home and away, especially in League Two as we don’t get huge crowds.

“They are very level environments you go into. So we need our fans.

“If we get our fans that made all the noise at Luton, or the fans that made all the noise at Crewe, the one that stood here against Wycombe and made all the noise, the fans here against Yeovil that made all the noise, that’s our environment and gives us that extra five per cent to make this our home environment and gives us the advantage on the opposition.”

Although Stevenage are 22nd and struggling, Murray said: “We are expecting a tough game.

“I think their position is a little bit false at the minute. You look at their squad and they’ve got some household names.

“They have some good experienced players and also some very good talented young player.

“They like to play a good brand of football and I think their position is the league at the moment is lying.

“But that’s the league right now. It’s that tight you win two games and you’re up there in the mix and you lose a few and you’re down the in the doldrums.”

Stags’ treatment table is finally clear at the moment, but Murray felt Jamie McGuire (leg injury) was unlikely to return.

“I think Saturday will be too soon for him. But he back in training, which is good.

“Tafty’s (George Taft) back in training as well, so we’ll see how the next two days go. To have them both back in the group is good news.”