Nigel Clough says Mansfield Town are a work in progress still

Nigel Clough has stressed Mansfield Town are still a work in progress as they head to high-flying Cambridge United.
Nigel Clough says Mansfield Town are a work in progress.Nigel Clough says Mansfield Town are a work in progress.
Nigel Clough says Mansfield Town are a work in progress.

And Clough has urged onlookers to be “realistic” with their expectations in his first season in charge.

Renowned managers Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola all took time finding their feet before moulding their styles in the Premier League.

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“There are a lot of pieces to go in the jigsaw,” admitted Clough.

"I’m happy with the progress that’s been made but there’s still a long way to go.

“It makes me laugh sometimes when you’ve had three weeks and people ask ‘is that the final piece of the jigsaw?’

“Jose Mourinho’s just completed a year at Tottenham, one of the best managers in the world, and they are saying ‘Tottenham are now beginning to look like a Mourinho team’.

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“He’s working with some of the best players in the country, some of the best players in the best, he’s one of the best managers and it’s taken him over a year.

“It took Jurgen Klopp the same, the same with Pep Guardiola, but we start at the bottom of League Two and people are saying ‘are you getting there?’ Come on, let’s be realistic.”

The Stags are fresh off the back of a dramatic 120th-minute FA Cup winner on Sunday.

And Clough is desperate to use that as a building block to climb away from the dreaded drop zone to non-league football.

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He said: “We were talking about it after the game on Sunday about a time when I was at Sheffield United and we beat Fulham in extra-time in the 120th minute.

“We were bottom of League One at the time and we went on a great run after that.

“We ended up finishing seventh and getting to the semi-final. Now I don’t think we can do that - but I think it can have that sort of effect because it’s great for the confidence.”

Clough stressed his side will have to defend well and be more clinical in front of goal to come away with all three points.

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“We’ve had 43 chances in the last two games and only scored twice - that’s very telling,” he added.

“They’re a really good side and we know that.

“It seems like every team we play away at the moment are flying high in the table.

“It’s important we get points against the teams in and around us, but points are points at the end of the day.

“We’re going to have to defend well and try our best to get a clean sheet and still provide an attacking threat.”