David Flitcroft believes it was always destiny that the final game of the season would turn into a winner-takes-all affair at rivals MK Dons.
Both sides have blown more than one chance to secure promotion before Saturday’s looming showdown and the Stags manager said: “I truly believe now, looking at what has happened over the last two or three weeks, it was destined for us to be in this situation with this game. It now comes down to Saturday.
“I am proud the players have got to this point. This is not about me. I have a group of players I love working with and trying to improve.
“The best night of my life this season was being at the League awards night and seeing our players being recognised. That was reward for me. I know my role here and I have had my successes this season with doing what we’ve done with this group.
“But, with the money our owners have spent and the support they have given me, it would make me proud to go up on Saturday. That would be my payback to them.”
Mansfield have only lost five away games all season but, with both sides having recent wobbles and promotion nerves, he said it was impossible to read anything into what the form book may say.
“You can look at form and different scenarios but it’s such a one-off game,” he said.
“It will come down to that mental edge and resilience.
“The game will ebb and flow. There will be different spells of momentum. We need to be focused on game management and pitch management.
“Someone will be promoted and the others fall back into the play-offs. The players have all that to contend with during the game.”
He said this would be his third ‘insane’ final day of the season in his short managerial career after promotion at Bury and keeping Barnsley up against the odds.
“I don’t put too much significance on the actual day at Bury – it’s more about the journey we all took and I can almost remember every single week leading up to it, every loss we had and how we responded to that loss and how we got ourselves back into that fixed position,” he said.
“But avoiding relegation at Barnsley at the last day was the highest pressure you’re going to get with so much money and other people’s jobs at stake.
“You deal with it, you come through it and build it into your CV and mental resolve. It was the toughest day I’ve had on a football pitch.
“So I have had two outstanding experiences in my short career as a manager. They were two almost insane experiences and this is a third.
“So that will stand me in good stead. It has helped with with the build-up this week.”
Mansfield might have been home and dry by now had they not suffered some significant long term injuries. But all those players will join an otherwise fully fit squad to offer their backing for the big day.
“The long term injuries will be in and around what we are doing, supporting us at MK Dons,” said Flitcroft.
“We have big characters out of the team – Bobby Olejnik, Craig Davies, Hayden White. They are desperate to come down and be a part of what we are doing.
“They will do a session on Saturday morning and then come down to meet us for a pre-match meeting. They are a tight group and very together.”