Although desperate to register his first win as Mansfield Town boss at the seventh attempt, David Flitcroft said that more than anything he and the players want to beat visiting Crewe Alexandra on Saturday for the supporters.
Stags fans have stayed patient as their side dropped out the play-off zone after seven games without a win and, with six games left, Flitcroft wants to reward their loyal backing with that long overdue victory.
“I am desperate for the supporters. They deserve the results we’ve not been getting,” he said.
“We have been threatening to, but it’s a results-based industry.
“A win makes supporters feel so good about themselves. They put so much energy into supporting. I want to give it back to them.
“It would then galvanise the spirit growing among the players.
“What a win would do is reaffirm that the work we’re trying to do and implement has become instilled in them.
“It’s like anything – you need the results to underpin the performance, the training programme and the values I am trying to install into the group.”
Stags lost to top two Accrington and Luton over Easter, despite gallant battling, but now face a run-in of six games against sides in the bottom half to get back into the top seven.
“Without a doubt it’s there for us,” said Flitcroft.
“Even though they were two big games over Easter in terms of where they were in the league, they were not games that scared or intimidated this group.
“We are over that period now. We are looking forward to the run of games and the Crewe game can’t come soon enough. We’re all excited by the prospect of getting out there and showing supporters what we are prepared to fight for.” Crewe, managed by ex-Stag Dave Artell, are now 10 points clear of the drop and all but safe. But Flitcroft believes the Railwaymen will still be a dangerous animal.
“I don’t buy into them relaxing when you have someone like Dave Artell as manager and you look what he was like as a player and his passion for football,” he said.
“He has been at Crewe a long time – he was in the academy before – and he understands the values of it.
“David will make sure their team is fully prepared and want to finish as high as he can.
“I don’t buy into the idea that players are thinking about their holidays.
“Players at Crewe and any football club are thinking about earning a contract for next season for their families. Footballers are selfish and they will have their own motive for playing well on Saturday.
“We have to guard against that and certainly understand what it means to us and what it means to our supporters to take advantage of a positive performance on Saturday.”
He added: “We’ve watched them quite a lot and Crewe is what it is.
“It’s a model that’s been sustainable for a number of years. It’s got a playing identity and a DNA running through it that’s really strong.
“Dave has strong values in the way he plays. They want to bring youth through and over the last few seasons they have been in the Championship and were in League One quite a while.
“Now they are in League Two. But they will stick to their principles and what they do.
“It is a massive fixture that we are absolutely desperate to win.
“We need to make sure as the games get bigger, probably not in stature of opponents but certainly in terms of games running out, that we make sure we turn up at those absolute key moments.
“We gave Luton a host of problems and didn’t put them to the sword and finish them off.
“That’s something we have got to do in the games remaining. We have to be ruthless at both ends of the pitch and finish teams off.
“You can have great spells and do what you want between both boxes, but you are accountable for what you do in the opposition box and in our box to ultimately get results which is what the industry is about.
“Without a doubt we are about to turn a corner.
“They are certainly running for each other and the supporters and over Easter I have seen a galvanised spirit. It’s really important now we turn those performances into three-point results.”
Stags can expect a noisy, passionate backing on Saturday and Flitcroft said: “I’d ask nothing more from the fans than what they have given me and what they’ve given the team all season.
“It was difficult with the Accrington game and result to see them so highly tuned and so invigorated, wanting to kick every ball and not get beaten.
“It made me really understand what I’ve come into here – the passion of the supporters for this club and the travelling support, it’s just immense.
“It’s an expensive time for supporters and they have committed to that.
“I guarantee to them that I am going to give a team to share that commitment and make sure they are as committed as the supporters are.”