Stags pair miss on winning League Two awards

Mansfield Town v Leyton Orient.
Ben Whiteman takes a shot in the first half.
Mansfield Town v Leyton Orient. Ben Whiteman takes a shot in the first half.

Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans and midfield loanee Ben Whiteman both missed out on glory after nominations for Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month and Player of the Month respectively.

Although they were among the four nominees for each category after Stags’ superb January, neither came out on top when the winners were announced this morning as Doncaster Rovers’ Darren Ferguson took the manager’s trophy and Exeter City youngster Ollie Watkins the player’s trophy.

Evans was just happy to be nominated and praised winner Ferguson.

“It is just recognition of doing a good job,” he said.

“From a League Two perspective Darren Ferguson has done a fantastic job since the summer, rejuvenating a team that was pretty much on the floor after probably the worst run-in in British football history to get relegated.

“He is deserving of it with five tremendous wins home and away and a really powerful side. I think they’ll be in League One next year and a lot to do with that is the man who has received manager of the month.

“It the award a poisoned chalice? What it tells you is that you’ve won four or five games just before it so that means you are getting a lot right.

“In all seriousness, when I’ve won championships and promotions I have not had many managers of the month awards.

“I think manager of the year is the one that everyone wants as that means you’ve truly successful and probably the champions. I have a number of them on the sideboard and I want to have a few more. But you have to ultimately finish top of the pile to win them.”

Stags were believed to have offered £350,000 for Watkins in last month’s transfer window so Evans is already a fan. But he believes all-action Sheffield United loanee Whiteman deserved the trophy.

“Young Ollie Watkins is a kid we know real well, we have done enough research on him, but I think if you take the month in isolation I think Ben should have won that award,” said Evans.

“Sometimes these awards come because people watch different games at different times.

“Young Watkins is a superb talent. But Ben is a young man who we brought here and is continuing to learn his education.

“He’s got a lot to improve on as he needs to get better if he wants to play in the level or two levels above.

“But he has been born with a talent. The day you’re born there is little bit of gold dust inside you and you’re destined to have a lot of ability with a ball.

“More importantly he comes from a family of winners who are really supportive of him. But inside him he has a real desire to succeed in football and a real competitive edge and that probably sets him aside from a few others. I think the kid will go on and have an excellent career over time.”