CRAIG PRIEST STAGS BLOG: MY team of the season

Craig Priest

Craig Priest

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Out comes the sun and away goes football - the full time whistle has blown on another season.

A 12th placed finish is pleasing enough and summing up this season I would says it’s a certain improvement on last season and a springboard for success going into the next.

I believe Murray will keep a fair 90, maybe 95 per cent of this squad together, and with additions in key areas - that’s on and off the pitch by the way - we’ll be one of the teams to beat next time around.

I expect Murray will move fairly quickly with the retained list, and indeed with most additions, so before we become swept up in that particular moment, I thought I’d share with you my team of the season.

I’m going by the games and the performances that I’ve been at here, it’d be unfair to write this with any other agenda.

Formation wise, I’m going for a 4-2-3-1 attacking shape.

Goalkeeper

Brian ‘Beast’ Jensen

If I could pick two keepers, I would.

Never, in my opinion, have Stags had two equally top drawer keepers to pick from in one season.

I wasn’t keen on Shearer at first, I felt that during pre-season his tendency to play from the back would cost us.

The bizarre and unfortunate injury that sidelined the popular Scot gave Jensen his chance and it’s credit to his ability that he kept his place for so long.

He silenced many a critic with his agility and organisation of his back line. Add to that his coaching, which played a massive part to Shearer’s excellent displays, and I think it’d be tough to argue any different here.

Defence

RB: Nicky Hunt (Captain)

I think we missed Nicky more than people will admit when he departed for Leyton Orient in January.

Collins, Alfei and Rose are all stable enough in that role, but we lost a big attacking threat in Hunt, which perhaps prevented us from finishing slightly higher than we did.

CB: Krystian Pearce

Powerful in the air, and although I would have expected more from attacking set plays, he just pips Lee Collins to the spot after forming a fairly strong partnership with Tafazolli.

He lacked pace first off, but now I think he’d be key for next season.

CB: Ryan Tafazolli

He’ll be a big loss. Enough said.

LB: Mal Benning

Have we ever had a better left back? With a thunderstorm of a finish, good link-up play and pace, seeing his name on the team sheet settles any pre-match fears of the old leaky goal from the left issue we’ve endured for years.

Midfield

CM: Mitch Rose

If there was an award for the most surprising signing of the summer then look no further than this man.

Admit it, you thought Murray had lost the plot, and yet here’s a battling midfielder who can play central or wide right, not to mention right back. Expect to see more of him next season.

CM: Jamie McGuire

See previous columns for full details! Mr Mansfield Town who wins every header, despite being three foot tall! Legend.

Attacking Midfield

Right: Matty Blair

Although I think he’d be more suited to a deeper central role, Blair has, especially in the final few games, shown exactly what he can bring.

With a bit more bite about us in terms of putting chances away, Blair will be a very valuable asset indeed.

Centre: Chris Clements.

I’m surprised he doesn’t have at least one award to his name this season to be honest, another key cog who will provide goals.

Left: Reggie Lambe

Award winner of the most undervalued player award.

He’s really come on leaps and bounds this season, I’d be shocked and disappointed if he was let go .

Striker: Matt Green

He’s found it tough back in the Amber and Blue, but after pretty much two seasons out injured, his return for a mid-table side, is good enough.

Same again next year, with some more support in attack and we’ll be laughing.

Subs: Scott Shearer, Lee Collins, Adam Chapman, Jack Thomas, Chris Beardsley, Blair Adams and Junior Daniel.