Player versatility the key to Mansfield Town’s unbeaten run

Mansfield Town v  Grimsby Town.'David Flitcroft thanks the fans for their support after victory over Grimsby Town.
Mansfield Town v Grimsby Town.'David Flitcroft thanks the fans for their support after victory over Grimsby Town.

Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft said the club’s current excellent run of results was down to the versatility and flexibility of his playing squad.

Stags have mostly used a 3-5-2 formation but can switch with ease to other systems, which Flitcroft said had taken a lot of hard work, and they are now 12 games unbeaten in all competitions and in the play-off spots.

“The credit for the current unbeaten run is down to the players, the staff and support I had in the summer from the chairman and Carolyn, and also our supporters,” he said ahead of tonight’s visit of Scunthorpe United in the Checkatrade Trophy.

“You have got to be flexible in football or any industry as the world changes.

“People who are good in business and industry have got to be able to see the next big trend. You can’t just go ‘4-4-2 worked a few years ago so it’s going to work again’.

“I think it’s because of the foreign influence in the Premiership, it gets cascaded down to the Championship and onwards.

“You have very good foreign managers now – look at David Wagner at Huddersfield and how he revolutionised the way they play. They got promoted so he was successful with it. The foreign model is good.

“The way Wolves played last season to get to the Premiership was phenomenal.

“So we have got to improve. League One is a brilliant league now – it’s really catching up with what the Championship’s doing. It was quite direct at one point a few years ago.”

He added: “You have got to have flexible players, and we have. I think CJ Hamilton represents flexibility more than any other player.

“CJ has been inconsistent over a couple of seasons, now he has played nearly every minute of every game.”

Flitcroft said the gamble to play four Championship sides in pre-season had also paid off with confidence levels boosted, but acknowledged it could have rebounded on them.

“We did make it a difficult pre-season. We played some good local teams – look at what Sheffield United are doing now in the Championship,” he said.

“We could have got beaten every game – it was a risky strategy.

“We didn’t have much momentum from a disappointing end to last season.

“But we have built and put in some long, hard miles.”

Flitcroft also paid tribute to the supporters’ backing, citing their noise as the reason why Stags came from behind to beat Grimsby at home last week.

“Our supporters have been brilliant,” he said.

“Last week they were loud, they were vocal, it was robust.

“Our second half performance especially engaged our supporters to brilliant levels.

“After a tough day at work, to come out on a Tuesday night and watch us and support us as they did was fantastic.

“I watched the players respond to that with that fight and never-say-die attitude – that represents our supporters and the town.

“I want to try to build a football team here that dominates possession and I hope people stick with what we’re trying to do as they have so far.”