It’s been a long hard season following Mansfield Town, and as the season draws to its conclusion tomorrow at Accrington Stanley, I think we’re all breathing a huge sigh of relief.
This season has been by no means one to remember, from rumoured budgetary and player age restrictions at the start of the campaign, to Cox’s departure and former players revealing some interesting views on twitter, to now Adam Murray gradually swapping the boots for suits as manager and keeping us in the Football League by the skin of our teeth.
When the full-time whistle blows at Accrington tomorrow afternoon, whilst it will signal the end of the season, it will signify the start of a massive rebuilding job by Murray to turn the club both he and we all love around.
Today in his final press call of the season, he’s made no bones about the fact he won’t let personal feelings get in that way of what has to be done for the best of the football club.
Somewhere in Murray’s comments the analytical amongst us could say that there’s a little jibe at underperforming players in there, but to be fair, they have underperformed and let us as supporters down.
As a result, there may be one or two shocks on the retained list when it is revealed.
I could list about five or six players that I’d be devastated to see go but won’t as I understand from “experience” that changes have to be made to progress – in fact in a feeble attempt to give Murray a new quote for his quotes wall, “You must let go of yesterday’s shadow in order to find the light of today and brighten the possibilities of tomorrow.”
I use the word “experience” loosely, obviously I’m no Football Manager (accept on my laptop!) but I do now run my own Community Interest Company and have learnt that sometimes you need to make difficult decisions in order to positively progress. S
ometimes there is a massive degree of risk involved, but without taking in, it’s checkmate.
Murray could quite easily keep the majority of that squad who he’s both played alongside and managed together, making a few tweaks, but all it would do is lead to another season of mid-table/relegation feared mediocrity.
Instead the young gaffer must rebuild, top to bottom – something he’s already started with the positive development of the academy.
I could now spin off and talk (or rant depending on your preference) about rebuilding the backroom staff, I won’t (for now at least) – instead, I want to make a case to get one signature onto next season’s list alongside that of youngsters Jack Thomas, Joe Fitzpatrick and Corbin Shire – that’s the signature of Jamie McGuire.
I must admit, when the charismatic midfielder arrived at the club, I wasn’t a massive fan. Some of his football was aggressive and referees seemed to like to dish cards out very frequently.
McGuire was perhaps Mr Liability under Paul Cox’s stewardship and often a hindrance rather than a help – yet under Murray, he’s a totally different player and I would say that he’s ripped the Mr Mansfield Town crown from the head of Murray and crowned himself.
McGuire is far more mellow on the pitch and for me is ideal captain material next season. He gives exactly what Murray did as a player, in tough waters, dragging bodies here there and everywhere to achieve the positive results required for MTFC. He seems to get involved with everything, playing through the pain barrier without a care in the world. When the legends returned last weekend, he stopped his half-time kick out to stand and applaud each and every one of them before praising them on his twitter.
After the Tranmere game, a result which effectively kept us up, his banter and passion was evident, the way he celebrated with a delighted Murray in from of the West Stand brought a tear to my eye – sprinting over, jumping on Murray’s back and kissing his head!
I think he’d be a great person to have in the dressing room next term and would help the development of the youngsters who I also believe we will see a lot more frequently next term. Jack Thomas is established for me now as a first team regular and the others coming through the ranks can learn from McGuire’s influence, a player whose worked hard throughout his career and clearly has a rapport with the lads and a burning passion for the club.
Fingers crossed that tomorrow Stags do indeed go Bananas’ at Accrington and secure three points to wrap things up positively, who knows they may break this penalty duck too! I still firmly believe Murray will bring success to Mansfield Town as manager, but like a flower you have to give it time to grow and blossom – If things are done right this summer, then who knows what we may be talking about in a years time.