OPINION: A week is a long time in football and at Mansfield Town FC
There will be a big fireworks display as the One Call Stadium on Sunday as Mansfield Town Football Club hosts its annual seasonal event, writes Tim Morriss.
In fact, there have been fireworks at the Stags for most of the past week.
A poor home performance seven days ago in the 2-1 defeat to Stevenage led to an outspoken post-match interview by manager Adam Murray, who was clearly emotional as he spoke of abuse he received at the final whistle.
Later in the week the manager apologised for any uncertainty the interview might have caused with regards to his future at the club.
Then he invited several supporters to meet him individually at the ground to question him – a rare and brave move by Murraythat won him a few new friends among those fans as some later posted on social media that they had been impressed with the manager after meeting him.
It was another innovative idea by a young manager who wants to do his best for the club and is always prepared to go the extra yard for the Stags.
And he was big enough on Saturday to admit that he had met “some great people with great thought processes” and that it had changed his views forever.
But all the talking – either Murray to the fans or the fans about the manager – does not really matter.
The bottom line is that just two things are really important at the moment:
The first is that Stags must start to win home matches - two out of 11 is not good enough – or they will slide down the table and the supporters will slide away from attending matches. Just 2,000 home fans for the FA Cup tie was lower than I expected.
Secondly, any football manager has to retain the support of his boss. That means Murray and his players have to show Stags owner John Radford that there is progress on the pitch towards the goal of taking the club to higher levels.
Well, on Saturday, the Stags – with a more attacking line-up that dispensed with Lee Collins providing defensive cover from midfield and gave flair players Ashley Hemmings and Lee Baxendale a chance to show what they could do - had far more attacking intent and verve (Jamie McGuire is a great motivator on the pitch) than the previous week.
They showed they can play well at the One Call Stadium - and against the best team in League Two so far - and they were unfortunate to bow out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, losing 2-1 to Plymouth Argyle.
Stags boss Murray delighted in defeat after ‘best week in football’Mansfield Town 1-2 Plymouth ArgyleSurely, if they play like they did against the Pilgrims in future weeks the home wins will come? Yes, they lacked a killer touch and, at times, belief in front of goal again, but they also lacked a little luck as Ashley Hemmings struck the post and Jamie McGuire was clearly fouled for the winning goal (not to mention a handling offence).
The second half in particular was a joy to watch as the Stags played positive, attacking football. It was very different to seven days earlier and hopefully the players will take confidence from the FA Cup performance into an upcoming vital period.
Later in November the Stags have two home games in four days against Wycombe and Blackpool. Positive results and positive performances could do so much for the rest of the season.
But for now it was good to see a far better performance – and to see the players rightly applauded off the pitch following the boos against Stevenage.
They say that seven days is a long time in politics. It is even longer in footbal!