After the trauma of taking over mid-season and steering a sinking ship to safety, Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray can’t wait to start his revolution this weekend.
Out this summer went 17 players as well as the direct, physical game employed by previous boss Paul Cox.
In has come 13 new faces plus a new footballing philosophy for long-suffering fans to savour.
Brimming over with ideas and enthusiasm, Murray wants to sail his sleek, new ship more along the lines of the beautiful game this year and is confident his side can challenge the other end of League Two.
“There is a real belief in the camp at the minute that, as a team, if we do what we can and stick to our beliefs, then we can affect this league,” he said.
“Like every other team in the league we are going to need that little bit of luck at times and we are going to have to ride over rough patches. We have to stay strong through those rough patches because, as good as want to be, we will go through rough patches.
“We have a real infrastructure and a philosophy of how we want to do things. But there’s no point having a philosophy unless you can make it effective. It’s important our group of players understand our beliefs as a football team and we make it effective. The bottom line of that is winning.
“The philosophy is to play a style of football that is open, expansive, attractive, that has a core of hard work, organisation and discipline and it wins.”
He added: “This squad has different attributes now. I think there is a really good balance with experience of not only winning but of people that have set high standards throughout their career.
“Then we have the youth with the energy and drive to achieve with our kids. So we’ve got the balance there. They push each other, the experience pulling the young kids to hit the standards they’ve had throughout their career and the youth pushing the experienced to keep up with them. The group has got good dynamics.”
Murray admitted going into the One Call Stadium is a far more pleasant experience now than it was for him as the relegation trapdoor flapped open in his direction last season.
“It’s a totally different feeling, and if I am being totally up front and honest, it took the summer for me to get that sinking feeling out of my stomach,” he said.
“We knew last season was going to be tough. We said it a million times. I actually got on the ship in the storm and soon realised how tough it was.
“Having started making the additions through the summer, once I started having the chats with the players I’d brought in, the chairman and the board, and the positivity we have created, that sinking feeling has turned into a feeling of real belief and drive that the work that we have put into these players and this football club can take it forward.
“I walk into that dressing room every day and see what I have in front of me. There is a real strength in character and a real bond there and it’s a pleasure to come to work at the minute.
“The bottom line now is that we make the squad that we’ve put together effective in winning football matches at League Two level.”
He added: “The biggest part of this summer and the early part of the campaign is the gelling process. We need to make sure people understand each other, one as people, and two on the football pitch so they know how each other plays, whether that’s as units or individuals and then as a team.
“That process has been kind of accelerated with this group as they’ve taken to the ideas and the things we want to put in like ducks to water as they say.
“It’s been a pleasure to have the group for the pre-season so far. The group runs itself at times – they push each other and when we do put in detailed work on the training ground we do see it come out in games which didn’t happen last year.
“They are doing okay, but this is the time the foot goes down and we really see what they are about now because it’s a different ball game from playing pre-season to the life and death of three points.”
So far the Stags have remained remarkably injury-free in pre-season compared to previous years which Murray puts down to the skills of his staff.
He said: “We brought in Dan Taylor, a strength and conditioning coach who looks at the sports science and the physical aspect of the game. He is top drawer at what he does and up to yet we haven’t had any muscular injuries or anything like that.
“It’s now about making sure we get that 100 per cent sharpness that you always push on the final week.”