‘You’ve got to make sure players come here for footballing reasons’ – they were the words of Stags boss David Flitcroft this week as Mansfield Town’s squad of 20 returned for pre-season training.
Comparing the two close-season activities between Flitcroft and his predecessor, I can’t help but put another tick in the box of positives for the Stags manager heading into the new campaign.
Only two new additions were made by Flitcroft during the period of boredom for football fans, whereas by this stage last season, Steve Evans pretty much had all deals signed sealed and delivered.
But which approach is best?
Whilst we may be frustrated at a perceived lack of action from Flitcroft, he appears to me to be taking his time over signings and not dishing out big money deals, admitting he’s met with a number of players who have looked at Mansfield Town FC as a big paying team, wanting to sign for that reason rather than footballing ambition.
Evans, in contrast, had pretty much every deal done without seeing the players merge together.
I’m a big believer that a player may be one of the best around, but only when they play in a certain formation, in a set style, with two or three others who set the ground work for them.
By getting the players together as a unit, not only can Flitcroft see who is good technically, but he and his staff can see who is bonding with who, who will fit in the variant of systems and most importantly who will display the right attitude to perform for Mansfield Town Football Club and its supporters.
The Stags boss in my opinion is under massive pressure to deliver quickly after last season’s capitulation, where it is clear that on reflection he walked into a dressing room split and a dressing room who were happy to collect their inflated wage packets and not deliver.
His silence throughout the summer has also frustrated the fans, I’ve met David at his first press conference and spoke to both him and Ben Futcher at length, he’s not afraid to come out and talk but he is a big believer of getting work done on the training ground.
Press conferences aren’t a short thing, so in reality that hour and a bit could be spent on the training ground.
If that extra hour is going to be the difference between winning and losing, then silence is speaking volumes.
I’d very much expect to see three more faces be revealed before the end of the week ahead of the Stags trip to Portugal where they’ll face Dundee.
Another positive, this will not be a week of frolicking around in a pool with a bit of running thrown in, ending with a game against 11 random blokes.
It will be the professional intensity required for a full season of challenge.
With the boys back in training, the new kit on its way and pre-season matches just around the corner – the excitement is building.
Let’s just remember though as the heat gets to us and things, probably, stay quiet – swans appear gracious on the surface but underneath are kicking for their life, sometimes it’s the bits you can’t see which makes the difference!
Football’s back – it’s great!