NEW Stags manager Paul Cox is confident he can bring instant success to Field Mill.
His amazing record at Eastwood Town over the last five years reinforces that belief, despite only being given a one-year contract with Mansfield today.
“I always set myself targets at Eastwood and have always achieved them. So I don’t intend to fail here,” said the man selected from seven candidates to replace Duncan Russell.
“I put pressure on myself whether it is a one or 10 year contract.
“It is the nature of the beast in this job. The pressure a chairman puts on me is nothing compared with the pressure I put on myself. I enjoy pressure.
“When I went to Eastwood they were five points clear at the bottom and we finished just outside the play-offs. I’ve done well since then and really do believe if we’d been allowed to compete in the play-offs this season at Eastwood then we would have got promoted.
“That success wasn’t down to extra finance or pressure from the chairman. It was down to my own internal pressure to get a football club where it wants to be.”
In five seasons, Cox has won two promotions, five Nottinghamshire Senior Cup Trophies, and has taken Eastwood Town to the third round of the FA Cup. Cox’s win ratio as manager and points gained per game were also among the key factors in his appointment. Cox became Eastwood Town’s manager at a time when the club were struggling at the bottom of the UniBond Division One. He later led them to promotion via the play-offs. Their first season at UniBond Premier level saw Cox gain a commendable place of fourth in the division, but the club lost out to Gateshead in the play-offs. In the 2008/09 season, Cox won the UniBond Premier League as well as reaching the third round of the F.A. Cup. During that season, his team recorded 32 wins, 14 draws with only seven defeats, scoring 98 goals in the process and accumulating a goal difference of +56. Eastwood’s first ever season at Blue Square Bet North level saw them finish 10th after leading the table twice. This season Cox rebuilt a team that has finished on an unprecedented unbeaten run to finish fourth in the division, but the club were unable to compete in the play-offs because of issues with their ground.
However, his team now proudly holds the record for the Blue Square North longest unbeaten run of 19 games without defeat.
He said: “I got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview and made a presentation. Then I got a phone call to say I had got the job.
“It has been a exciting day. I came in this morning, met the staff and players and I can’t wait to get started and get my teeth into the job on Monday morning.
“Similar to what I created at Eastwood, I want to take the club beyond where it is. I feel there is the capacity here to be competing with clubs like Chesterfield in the Football League. It is my job to take the club there.
“I want to install a winning mentality. I want us to get promotion but not just stop there. You have to raise the bar and take this club back to where it rightfully belongs.
“The club has been sleeping for a couple of seasons now and I want to take it by the scruff of the neck. The hard work starts on Monday.
“I hope to be sitting down and talking to the whole squad, those in contract and those out of contract as well as bringing in new signings.
“I need to get a feel for the intentions and desire levels of the current players. I have a budget and I will also have to wheel and deal.”
With one of the biggest budgets in the division available to him next season, Cox intends to bring in some high quality players, possibly including the cream of the crop from Eastwood, players like highly-rated goalscoing midfielder Lee Stevenson.
“It would be a bit unfair to name names, but I did have some exciting prospects at Eastwood,” he said.
“Lee Stevenson scored 92 goals in three seasons and goals win football matches.
“Lee is being chased by a number of League clubs but he is the sort of player who would be in my radar and I hope to speak to the lad next week and talk about his intentions and ask if he wants to come to this football club.”
Despite the budget, Cox will not spend money ‘willy nilly’ and will move out players he feel he can improve on next week.
“It is likely there will be a few casualties as hard and ruthless decisions have to be made,” he said.
“But my budget is certainly a lot more than I had at Eastwood Town where it is well documented what I worked with.
“It was a totally different scenario. It was a smaller club I picked up in the UniBond South who, without being unfair, were probably playing above their level this season. You only have to look at their fan base. It wouldn’t sustain a Conference National side.
“But I think I have left them in a strong position and it was time to move on.
“Here I am looking to run with between 20 and 24 players. I know the average squad at the top of this league is 27-34 but I believe having six or seven players sat in row G on a Saturday afternoon is not good for them or team spirit. It creates disharmony.
“I want a tight group, even though I know I have money to spend.
“I won’t have a reserve side straight away but there will be a youth team and I want to bring good, young local players through. Look at Aiden Flint at Swindon. He is a local lad and should be here.
“I did come and watch a couple of games here and we have a good nucleus of players to start out with.
“With players like Alan Marriott, Tom Naylor, Adam Murray and Paul Connor we have a nice spine of a team. I just need to get them fit and structured, knowing exactly what their roles are on the pitch. I want to drag that extra yard out of them and improve fitness levels.
“I know Louis Briscoe had a great season but I want more out of him.
“I will bring in players and I don’t want anyone here who has a bad day at the office not thinking they may lose their place for the next game.
“I will set targets. Last year my centre half scored 10 goals from set pieces. I will raise the bar for everyone. This club finished 13th for a reason.”
On the continuing battle of the Field Mill ownership with landlord Keith Haslam, he said: “I am not a politician. The chairman and board brought me here to win football matches.
“We all agree this is a real team issue. My job is to create a winning side on the field and it is for the chairman and the board to sort the ground issue. Between us we can be a success together.
“If I can get us promotion or play-offs, I am 100 per cent certain the chairman and board will get their part.”
And almost six years at Eastwood testify to Cox’s sense of loyalty to a cause.
He said: “I believe in small steps. A couple of years ago when we had an FA Cup run and a championship I had the chance to move on to League and Conference clubs. But I don’t believe in just jumping ship. Success is built on strong foundations and that is what I want to build here.”
To the fans, he said: “Get behind the lads.
“I am looking to put a side together that I hope won’t let supporters down.
“Nothing is guaranteed in football and we are going to lose matches and have bad days at the office.
“But I want a side that, when they have lost, are clapped off as fans know they have given everything for the cause.”