OPINION: Stags continue to surprise fans following Gobern signing and Chapman exit

Mansfield Town created a social media storm last week as a Tweet from the club went viral and created interest worldwide.

Sunday, 18th September 2016, 9:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:52 pm
Mansfield Town's Oscar Gobern - Pic Chris Holloway

The Stags, not averse to publicity, cleverly used the last-minute cancellation of an event at One Call Stadium to their advantage.

The tongue-in-cheek Tweet read: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, clairvoyant Trisha will not be appearing in the Kevin Bird Suite tomorrow night.”

What Stags fans could also not have foreseen was the signing at the weekend of quality midfield player Oscar Gobern to boost the injury-hit squad ahead of the goalless draw at Hartlepool United – and the even more surprising news post-match that Adam Chapman was leaving the club by mutual consent.

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Chapman, one of the injured Stags players after featuring in seven matches this season, had increasingly become the target of the boo-boys in his second spell at One Call Stadium - after being one of the heroes who helped to lift the Stags back into the Football League.

Manager Adam Murray said the midfielder, who hit a hat-trick on his home debut in the 2013 Conference title-winning season, was no longer playing with a smile on his face.

It was an unusual comment by Murray that raised more questions than answers to explain the reasons for the player’s departure.

It is true that Chapman failed to hit the heights of his first half-season with the Stags, but his confidence on the ball would not have been helped by the negativity from the stands.

The boos and, at times, venom directed at the player, sometimes after just one misplaced pass, were not shared by all supporters and some have already posted their disappointment at the news on social media and fans’ websites.

That negativity from the stands could have been one of the reasons why Chapman no longer had the smile on his face on the pitch that the manager referred to, but no doubt there must have been other reasons too.

Certainly Chapman created some fond memories for fans, notably his immediate impact in his first few games to help the Stags climb into the Football League and his more recent goal against Notts County.

Whatever the background to Chapman’s departure, there was surely a big smile on the face of Murray and Stags fans at Hartlepool over the performance of debutant Gobern.

If he continues to play as well as he did, coming straight into the team as a 49th minute substitute – his first league game for more than a year – then there will be few complaints about the loss of Chapman.

The Stags midfield has been seen by some fans as a weak link at times over the past couple of years, but with the emergence of a more consistent Mitch Rose this season and now the acquisition of Gobern, there are reasons to be cheerful.

Gobern, who played once for England Under-19s and has twice won promotion from League One with Southampton and Huddersfield, signed as free agent after recovering from a knee injury that stopped him from playing a league match for QPR in the Championship last season.

In fact, he had played just eight matches in almost two years and you could argue that signing another play recovering from injury is a gamble

But if he had not received the serious cruciate injury, Gobern would surely be still in the Championship, so the signing could be seen as a coup for Murray and chairman John Radford.

You wouldn’t have known about Gobern’s lack of recent match action at Victoria Park on Saturday as he put in a confident first display.

He showed plenty of quality on the ball and once fully match-fit will offer something positive for the Stags.

Murray must be delighted with his new signing. The Stags might not have won in four matches (in all competitions) and have failed to score in the last three, but they remain just one point off the play-off places.

Murray has added quality to his squad in recent weeks – Saturday’s man-of-the-match Alex Iacovitti joining on loan from Nottingham Forest before the signing of Gobern - to offset the bad luck with injuries.

And he revealed that talisman striker Matt Green is set to sign an extended contract after summer rumours that he was the subject of interest from clubs in League One. If Green had been able to take the Stags’ best chance of the tight 0-0 at Hartlepool where goalscoring opportunities were at a premium, that would have been the perfect boost for the forward.

Now Murray will be looking for the Stags to fire on all cylinders at home – a failing since he took over as manager that he referred to as a hoodoo during an interview last week.

Grimsby are the visitors on Saturday and are sure to bring a good-sized crowd and create a terrific atmosphere.

Let’s hope those looking into the future are seeing a win for the Stags on Saturday and One Call Stadium being turned into a fortress for the rest of the season.

And after three games without scoring, a goal or two against Grimsby would also be welcome.