Stags boss Murray’s mixed feelings over new EFL Trophy format

Adam Murray.
Adam Murray.

Although hoping to see Stags go on a good cup run or two this coming season, Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray admits he is not sure if the addition of Premier League U21 sides in this year’s EFL Trophy competition is a good thing.

At their 2016 summer conference, EFL clubs, including Mansfield, agreed to pilot a new format for the EFL Trophy as ‘part of their ongoing commitment to creating more and better home grown players’.

The one season trial for season 2016/17 will include 64 teams made up of EFL League One and Two clubs, plus an additional 16 category one Premier League academy/U21 sides.

Central to the competition, formerly the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, will be the introduction of a new group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams.

The top two teams will progress to the knockout stages of the competition with the final staged at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.

However, Murray said: “I am a little bit undecided. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

“There are certain rules, you have to play a certain amount of players and whatnot. If the rules are changed and we are playing against U21 teams then I think it’s got to be flexible in what teams we put out as it does come into a part of the season where there’s games and it can become a burden at times.

“I think the format and the way they’ve set it up will be really good. It will be something new and more of a competition phase that in England we haven’t really come across before..

“It will be something new and something different. The way they’ve brought in the higher club’s U21s I’m not really sure on. But we will see how it goes and I’d like to do well in the cup competitions this year.

“Again, with a small squad like last year, you’ve got to be careful. You’ve can’t risk getting unnecessary knocks and the league is going to be our focus again. But it would be nice to have a couple of good cup runs alongside that.”

He added: “It’s great for the fans and it’s good for the club financially and it’s good for the players too.

“You look at Oxford last year. They had a great cup run and never really changed the team. You do run the risk, but I think if you get the balance right and you’ve got momentum, it’s a risk v reward syndrome.

“If you do get on a good run it can rub off on your league form. “It’s just about getting consistency and that’s one thing that we are looking at doing this season, more to our results than our performances.

“If we do that we have a good chance of competing with the better sides in this league.”