LOMAS ON STAGS: Farewell to a legend, now someone entertain us at home

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray 
Picture by Dan Westwell
Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray Picture by Dan Westwell
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Saying goodbye to a manager at a football club is always that bit harder when they are a club legend.

And, despite recent results, there was suddenly a tinge of sadness about some of the supporters’ comments on the departure of Adam Murray as Mansfield Town boss last night just a week short of two years since he took over from Paul Cox as caretaker.

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray.
Picture by Dan Westwell

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray. Picture by Dan Westwell

Within two weeks he had been given the job full-time and, after watching his side beat Plymouth Argyle in his first full game as boss with flowing, exciting, attacking passing football, the Murray revolution had begun.

Everyone hoped that was to be the future. But in the end it was a lack of entertainment at home that did for him.

Being such a hero at the club after three spells as a player a lot of fans would have forgiven him a lot more than had he been a stranger.

But two seasons of cautious football at home, despite his set-up working so well away, proved too much for many to take and out came the long knives.

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray. Picture by Dan Westwell

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray. Picture by Dan Westwell

Being the youngest manager in the Football League when he was appointed, Murray swept in with a wave of bright, fresh, modern ideas and no one can deny he covered every avenue in trying to squeeze his extra one per cent out of every situation.

Stags’ record away record has been excellent since Murray came in and, had that been matched at home, Stags fans and chairman John Radford would have been in dreamland as the side flirted with the top of League One nearer his Championship ambition.

Fans had been fed up of Paul Cox’s physical, long ball game that had shot the club out of Conference obscurity, wanting something more refined.

They certainly got that under Murray as he encouraged his side to keep the ball.

Adam Murray. Pic by Dan Westwell

Adam Murray. Pic by Dan Westwell

But defence was always the priority as can be seen by the club’s current record as one of the six meanest defences in League Two, despite last weekend’s 4-0 defeat at Portsmouth with nine men.

Murray admitted more than once at press meetings that he needed to take more risks at home and saw that as part of his own personal development.

But it wasn’t to be and he paid the price - Stags having won just two of their 11 games home games in all competitions this season, scoring 10 times, three of them in the magnificent win over Notts County.

Amazingly, although Stags are only three points off the drop zone, the table shows they are still only three points off the play-offs as well, so Murray can count himself unfortunate in some ways to be on his way.

The foundation is very much there for a successor.

But the message from supporters is very loud and clear – entertain us at home.

Murray has learned so much in his first spell as a manager and I believe he will bounce back better and stronger for this dismissal as he still has so much to offer

It is part of his learning curve in the job and, while still building a side based on a strong defence, I envisage his next side to be much more of an attacking force at home.

However, no matter how dull some of the home games have been, some of the keyboard warriors out there and some of the fans near the tunnel should hang their heads in shame as to how far they have gone with their verbal abuse of him.

Passion should always be part of football, but some of the anger and venom directed his way was simply unacceptable.

I was shocked at the timing of Murray’s departure as I felt he would definitely be given the two forthcoming home games to put Portsmouth behind him, but I guess nothing should really shock any of us in the cut-throat world of football.

Now fans will look to Radford to make the right appointment with the season still very much alive and with these two home games in four days ahead to be won in the meantime.

I love how Murray always wears his heart on his sleeve and shows his emotions. Fans can always identify with those sort of managers displaying the emotions they are feeling in the stands.

However, he had certainly been feeling the pressure recently, avoiding the media most weeks instead of the two weekly meetings we have had for years, and stopping us talking to players which has been unusual and frustrating.

But most of my memories of Murray will be good ones, none more so than watching him trying to play through injury in the FA Trophy final at Wembley against Darlington.

I have never seen anyone give more for their club than he did that day and the trauma his body went through that day may well affect him in years to come.

As the cliché goes, cut him and he will bleed Amber & Blue.

It is a club he loves, but it was a love affair that was always likely to sour at some stage as a manager. I am sure everyone wishes him well for the future.

Now it is up to the chairman to find a manager who wants to make Saturday afternoons at One Call Stadium a thrilling spectacle in an entertainment industry with so many alternatives for families to spend their money on.