DESPITE four games without a win and a section of fans calling for his head, Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has told everyone not to panic ahead of Saturday’s visit of promotion hopefuls Forest Green Rovers (3pm).
The manager and players suffered some despicable personal abuse, on Tuesday night as they approached the tunnel after being held 0-0 at home by Lincoln City, including some alleged spitting.
But Cox said today: “Fans are entitled to their opinions and I will never stop people having constructive criticism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, This game is built on opinions.
“However, some of the things that were said to me, but mostly to the players, after Tuesday’s game were above and beyond constructive criticism.
“They were below the belt and we had people being spat on, not just ourselves but opposition players too. There has to be a line drawn on that kind of thing.
“I have had a lot of e-mails and letters and spoken to a lot of other fans and they have been very positive. I know we have some fantastic supporters here. But we know we have minority who are here to cause problems.
“We all want to see this club successful and, to do that, we need to stick together.
“We need to get our players fit and back on the pitch so it’s like last season when the team picked itself.”
Cox pointed out that last year’s highly successful season also began slowly.
He said: “This is a very similar situation to last year and there is no need to panic or lose our heads. From the start of November to the start of January last season we only picked up about 11 points.
“Obviously this situation is not what we want. But there have been circumstances out of our control.
“We have been missing out top scorer in Matt Green and one of the best midfielders in Gary Roberts for a quarter of the games and now we’ve also lost Alan Marriott, one of the best goalkeepers at this level, and are already without an integral part of our side, Ross Dyer, for the season.
“But that is not excusing some of the performances away from home which need to be better.
“I can understand supporters’ frustrations right now. Myself and the players are just as frustrated. But it is a long season and I solely look at the business end of it. It’s where you finish, not where you start and I should be judged on my end product.”
He added: “I have never walked away from something in my life. There is a lot going off here right now and if I wanted an easy life I would probably go back to a nine to five job.
“One fan told me I had only lost 12 games in 18 months and have the best points record of any Mansfield manager since 1926. What more do people want? We are not Manchester United.
“Some fans think this is a big club that should win every game 5-0, playing like Barcelona, and that is never going to happen in this league. It is a tough old league.
“Last season’s success probably did us more harm than good as expectation levels have risen beyond where they should be.”
Forest Green Rovers will be a dangerous wounded animal on Saturday, having just lost two on the bounce for the first time this season, Rovers only having lost one all season before that.
Stags are likely to still be without the latest injured quartet of Exodus Geohaghon, John Thompson, Chris Clements and Anthony Howell while Nick Wright and Luke Jones are on their way back but need to regain some fitness while Adam Murray and Gary Roberts are likely to soldier on in midfield, despite their current fitness issues.