Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray has told his players to forget about last season’s double and 5-0 home drubbing against neighbours Notts County when the Magpies return to One Call Stadium for the first of this season’s local derbies this Saturday (12.15pm).
However, he did say that, were Stags to win, they should cherish and celebrate that better than they did last year.
Under new boss John Sheridan this season Notts are flying high in seventh place and Murray said: “They are a totally different animal this season. Obviously they have a new manager, a new style, and a new way of doing things.
“He is a very good manager, very experienced, and I think more importantly they have got experienced players in there.
“So it’s going to be a totally different test for us but one we are going into confident. We are in a good run of from at the minute. We have picked up some very good points on the road recently, so we are up for the challenge.”
Stags’ Checkatrade Trophy win at Port Vale on Tuesday was their first victory in eight games and he said: “The run that we had was a weird run. It wasn’t as if we were losing games. It was just that we weren’t getting the wins that everyone felt we should have got.
“The recent results have given us that bit of confidence and you can see the extra bounce in the players’ steps now and I think it’s come at just the right time.”
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Murray said he and his longest-serving players understood the importance of the Notts County derby, and by Saturday any summer signings who didn’t would be made very aware of how big the game is.
“For the period of time that I’ve been here which is a long time, I understand 1,000 per cent as do people like Jamie McGuire, who’s been here a long time now,” said Murray.
“I probably feel it a bit more because of my connection with this club and the town and the rivalry.
“For the 11/12 new boys we’ve brought in this season, they probably know 90 per cent, and in the next 48 hours they’ll know that extra 10 per cent.
“These games, tactics and everything are brilliant but it all goes out the window. This is heart, soul, passion and fight. That’s how we’ve been successful in these games so far.”
With some indifferent home form, Stags find themselves languishing in mid-table, though know a win could see them leapfrog the Magpies.
“This time last season we were flying well above the radar,” said Murray.
“Everyone was going – what are they doing up there? They are supposed to be in the bottom two or three.
“I think this season we’ve probably gone a little more under the radar but we are three points off the play-offs and I quite like the under the radar bit at the minute. But as some point we want to knock on everyone’s door and say look, we’re here now.
“In the bigger picture, going above the radar so early last season, it ruined us because it put unexpected and unwanted, unneeded pressure on the players, from outside and from within.
“This season due to the ups and downs we’ve had off the pitch, injuries, suspensions, non-football situations, it has upset the group.
“But these are the games you’d give anything to play in. the boys will sign a separate contract today where they will commit themselves to a war. I expect them to fulfil that.
“The importance and everything that comes with the game is the fact it’s a proper local derby. We’ve had a couple of the last 18 months and we all know what big occasions they are.
“We are 11 games in, so it’s not life or death, but it is our biggest game of our season. Likewise when we play Notts County away in the second game of the season last year, it was the biggest game of our season. Because of the occasion it makes it even bigger.
“It’s an occasion that as a player and as a manager you don’t get a lot of sleep because it’s like Christmas and you’re excited.”
Should Stags win it, Murray says the club will mark the occasion much better than last season.
“It’s one you have to cherish and we probably didn’t do that enough last season, especially the result at home,” he said.,
“That was a fantastic moment for the football club and we probably didn’t cherish it enough.
“I know when I was on loan to Rainworth the lads went away to Chesterfield and beat them. I came back a couple of months later and the while place was decorated with pictures and posters from that day and we didn’t really do any of that.
“They are occasions you have to hold in your heart and relish them. They are big days. Saturday is a new battle and a different animal.”
On opponents Notts, where Murray has had loan spells in the past, he said: “I have always liked John and the way he does his teams.
“The most important thing is he’s a very good bloke and a football person. His teams are organised and disciplined and play the game the right way. They are a good team. “They are seventh at the minute and are up there for a reason. They’re on a good run of form and some of their individuals are on good form.
“I have a lot of respect for the football club. They are a massive club with a good fan base and an excellent history.
“It’s going to be a tighter game than last season with two very good teams going head to head.
“They’ve probably had a bit better form than us recently, but performance levels of both teams have been very high. They’ve probably had a bit more rub of the green than we’ve had over the last five games. But this is football.
“A month ago I was nominated for manager of the month, four weeks later I am not nominated any more.”