LOMAS ON STAGS: Optimism for Stags at an all-time high?

Mansfield Town's Danny Rose celebrates his opening goal - Photo by Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's Danny Rose celebrates his opening goal - Photo by Chris Holloway

As the dust settles on season 2016/17 I think optimism of success for Mansfield Town is as high as at any moment I can remember since I began covering them in 1989.

It is always disappointing to come so close and miss out.

But almost every Stags fan had a week to prepare for what looked like imminent disappointment at Crawley Town and that took the edge off Saturday’s heartache.

And the prospects of Steve Evans building a juggernaut of a side this summer is positively mouthwatering.

Click HERE to read Steve Evans’ thoughts on the week ahead

Click HERE to read the Crawley v Stags match report

Football being what it is, fans were treated to a short period of time on Saturday when Mansfield had moved up into eighth place and were only outside the play-offs by one goal on goal difference.

Hearts were racing as everyone wondered if the almost impossible was going to happen and the day was going to go Mansfield’s way.

But goals began to go in elsewhere as well as into the Mansfield net and the dream was over well before the final whistle.

In a season in which Stags’ defence has been largely rock solid but they have struggled for goals, it was perhaps ironic that it was the second half defending to blame for missing out on a win at Crawley in the end.

In a typical ‘game of two halves’ Stags could and should have been four or five up by the break only to let Crawley back into it and end up thankful for the woodwork denying the home side a win.

But every Stags fan would have happily taken the last day scenario when Evans took over with the side languishing as low as 18th last November and, to take it to the middle of the final game was a fantastic effort.

Steve Evans’ rhetoric over the last few days has been bullish about what he wants and expects budget-wise.

He insists he knows what he needs to get promotion and where to get it and, with nine promotions under his belt already, who would doubt his words?

It seems likely that chairman John Radford will have to dig far more deeply into his pockets than ever before to back the sort of signings the manager has in mind, most likely to be from divisions above.

But, to his credit, Radford has publicly said he will happily do that and Mansfield Town are very, very lucky to have him as owner.

His ambitions for the club match those of its supporters.

When he once spoke about taking the club to the Championship it sounded over-ambitious compared to the budget the manager was receiving.

Now it almost seems a case of when and not if, should Evans get history repeating from his Rotherham United glory.

There are never any guarantees in football, whatever money you spend. It can be a very cruel mistress.

But, if you are going to throw cash at it, you want it to be the right manager to be spending it to give you the best chance.

Evans is that manager and, even though his forthright manner is still yet to win over a few Stags fans, he rarely fails to succeed given the right tools.

He has boldly stated his ambitions are to avoid the play-offs and finish top three next year.

So summer well and then strap yourselves in for what could be one of the most memorable seasons in the club’s history.

If Evans gets in the players he wants we could see new club legends in the making.

Throw in promotion, doubles over Chesterfield and Notts County and Radford should see rewards and returns on his investment through the turnstiles.

We should never wish away the summer months, but 2017/18 may end up being the most eagerly anticipated Stags campaign for years and years.