While continuing to chase the play-offs, Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray said the club needs to take stock this season and plan for a long-term future.
Murray was delighted with the message of backing chairman John Radford put out on Monday after Stags had lost two League Two games on the bounce.
After only just avoiding relegation last season, fans’ expectations had risen well beyond anything anyone imagined could happen.
But Radford’s message that he was very happy with what Murray and the players had achieved on the budget he had given settled the ship, relieved some pressure and saw them bounce back with a 2-1 win at Morecambe on Tuesday.
“The biggest message it sent out was the reality of who we are at the minute,” said Murray.
“Anyone with any kind of emotion towards Mansfield Town, they owe everything to John because without him there probably wouldn’t be a club at the minute or we would have dropped down 4,000 leagues. We owe him.
“Now is the time to take stock of who we are and where we are and build, bringing our own kids through, not just a League Two team trying to survive for their lives every season.
“I have last year imprinted like a tattoo on my brain as I never want to feel like that again. Even though I am not going to use it as a marker we are seven points off our total last year already.
“We are probably over-achieving at the minute where we are.
“I had to get my message across to as it’s not a down tools or we are happy with mediocre. If we can get into the play-offs, we’ll get go for it in the play-offs, but as a football club that would be a swim in the ocean at the minute. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying.
“The focus is about performing. If we perform the way we can – and we have got a lot of different ingredients we can use – we will win a lot more games than we lose.”
So did Murray think the Radford statement had made a big difference to the players?
“They are weird creatures these footballers aren’t they? To give an honest answer, I haven’t asked any of them. Putting myself in a player’s head I am going to say yes.
“I don’t think it will be massive as they’ve got pride and want to win every game anyway. People think footballers are stupid, but they are not. A lot of them have been in a lot of dressing rooms and know the standard of the league. They know a lot of clubs in the top five or six are big hitters.
“They are a million miles away from us. That’s not to say we are not proud of who we are.
“You look at teams like Wycombe and Accrington. Every message that comes out those clubs is ‘little old us’ or ‘poor old us’ and the players thrive on that as there is no expectation. They are underdogs in every game they go into. If they win it’s brilliant, they go on to the next one. It’s not the end of the world. That’s why they are achieving at the minute.
“Their players play with confidence and an eagerness to prove everybody wrong – and that’s a brilliant position to be in.
“So I am hoping it will help the lads in certain areas, though we have got to keep improving.”
He added: “I want us to become competitive every year. So if we can get top half, top 10, and keep pushing for those play-offs year on year, at some point we are going to get in there.”