CRAIG PRIEST STAGS BLOG: Mansfield Town are not ready for the play-offs - prove me wrong

Craig Priest
Craig Priest
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Over-reaction, people not getting the point or writing something which, two or three weeks later, comes back to bite you on the backside is something which has held me back with certain columns, today being one.

After all posting things on line leave a permanent footprint. But today, something needs to be said

Mansfield Town are NOT good enough for a play-off challenge THIS SEASON, nor are they ready*.

Do I believe that the potential is in the dressing room? YES Do I believe in Adam Murray as a manager? YES.

So, why the statement Craig I hear you ask?

I am a firm believer that top teams, those capable of challenging for promotion, have one simple thing which we lack.

A consistent desire to ACTUALLY WANT TO SUCCEED!

We have a fine group of players, one which Adam Murray has methodically considered and who all bring different elements to the table.

Yet, when they step over the white line of battle, they stand there with a vacant look of disbelief – like one of those dreams where you’re delivering a speech in front of a million people and you sudden realise you’ve forgotten to put any clothes on!

In too many home games this season, we’ve gone out and started with a sense of fright and allowed our opponents to dictate the game.

It’s like when you invite someone to stay over at your house for the night and say ‘make yourselves at home’ – you don’t expect them to start re-arranging the furniture and build a conservatory.

Our sluggish starts lead to mistakes, namely conceding sloppy early goals which we find difficult to overturn.

It’s like a mental block. Against Stevenage we got past a certain point without conceding and slowly grew in confidence – which allowed us to go on and win the game.

Sometimes, we find ourselves clock-watching and timid. Good teams don’t do that.

On home turf, we should make visitors as uncomfortable as possible – who cares if it’s not completely ethical, it’s football and it happens.

I think at least 50 per cent of the game is played out on a psychological level.

Think about all those relatives or acquaintances that we get itchy around, you know those who you’ll acknowledge but who you can’t bear to spend more than five minutes with in the same room.

We do our best to subconsciously let them know we’ve had enough and they’ve outstayed their welcome, not offering them a cuppa or making an overly loud yawn. It happens.

Let’s transfer that to football shall we? All right there are regulations in place to prevent anything completely outlandish, but everything has loopholes and allowances.

Heating being turned down maybe, being made to walk across the car park from the team bus perhaps?

It’s psychological and there is never ANY proof to say if it works or not, but little things do add up.

When it comes to the game itself, as soon as the whistle starts we should show a certain physical stance, a tougher than necessary challenge here, a push or shove there.

You get the picture? When we are on our OWN pitch, at our OWN ground, we need to stamp OUR authority from the very first second they arrive until the job is done.

This is the complete opposite of what we do at the minute.

We allow teams to rock up and stamp across our carpet with dirty boots, go and have a lay on our bed eating crisps and bury the crumbs deep within our sheets, make a flirty comment with our partners.

I’m sure there’s been a time or two where they have shared a ‘more than friends’ moment with our partners too - You get the picture? It’s got to stop.

We have progressed so far since winning the Conference title under Paul Cox and Adam Murray has done an excellent job of preparing us to go to the next level, having transformed the playing squad to one of League Two standards. Perhaps our good start has given us false hope or raised expectations?

A top half finish would be a massive improvement for me.

It takes time for teams to gel and for clubs in ALL areas to be stable enough to cope with moving up the ladder.

Mistakes will happen for sure. It’s unfortunate that they are happening in abundance at the moment and affecting our results.

Perhaps we should be more patient as supporters and play the long game?

With that, however, comes this fact - our money contributes to the wage the players and staff take home.

So how about this for a compromise? We’ll show patience and play the long game with you, if you START to control the controllables.

I for one will never fault effort, commitment and desire – regardless of results.

*Muz, If you’re reading this cut/print out this on the dressing room wall and tell the boys to go out and prove me wrong.

I WILL ALWAYS back you 110 per cent and I will NEVER stop believing that the ABILITY and DESIRE lies within the dressing room.

It is up to YOU to prove it.

Perhaps today’s column was written out of annoyance following the Luton game, but either way it took a lot of arguing in my own head to write the statement which began this column.