Adam Murray can’t wait for Friday’s mouthwatering local derby at relegated Notts County and has vowed to give them a searching examination.
“It’s going to be a rock and roller,” smiled the Mansfield Town boss.
“When we looked at the fixtures and saw in the first week we’d be going to not only our local rivals but also probably one of the favourites for promotion, we knew we couldn’t get a better game really.
“It will be a great test for us going into that environment against a good team, but make no bones about it, we are a very good team ourselves and we are not going there to make the numbers up.
“I am not going there to sit back and watch Notts County. We are going into a thunderous environment and I want us to play at a tempo - they are going to know they are in a game.”
The Magpies, who have won their first two games, are the only club in the country that have brought in more than the 14 players Murray has signed and he said: “Notts have signed a lot of players as well and a lot of quality players, I know they’ve got a big squad.
“I know they’ve been and signed people from clubs from outside of England but the players have played at a very high level. I think they’ve got one lad from Ajax. His pedigree is incredible. They have got a lot of good footballers so we expect them to be one of the teams challenging in League Two this season.
“But we’ve got no fear. We are going there for a local derby and we want to show them what we are about. We’ve got enough in our changing room to go there and beat them on Friday so that’s we’ll set out to do.
“It’s another challenge for us and I’d rather get these tough challenges at the start of the season because you learn the most from us.
“Are we going to go into the first two months of the season and win every game? Of course not, we’re not stupid. But we are going to go and put points on the board and compete with everybody we come up against.
“We nearly got relegated last season, so our aim this season is to make sure we are in other half of the table.”
This will be Stags’ third game in the first week of the season, the match having been brought back to the Friday night to avoid clashing with Forest v Rotherham.
But he said: “It’s a good test – one of those that throws you straight into the deep end with the speed that the games have come. You’ve got to learn to adjust on the job.
“You’ve got 14 new players and we’ve had six weeks together so it’s all right playing friendlies but it’s nothing like the thrust of competitive games when you are getting put under pressure, especially last night, it opens you up to certain deficiencies and that’s brilliant for us.
“We are a new group, we are learning and we have got to learn on the go. We haven’t got time to wait a few months to become the team we want to be. We have to do it now.
“Good players do that, they adapt, and we have got good players. So I am still really confident in the season we are going to have. We’ve got a lot in that dressing room that can affect League Two.
“We are positive we can go in and bark in the top regions of the league this season – that’s our aim, nothing has changed there.
“We have some tough games coming up in which I think we’ll do well.”
Mansfield’s main worry tomorrow is striker Matt Green, who was left out at Hillsborough on Tuesday.
“We are just being careful with Matt,” said Murray “He might be a week, he might be ready for Friday.
“It’s one of them we’ll judge later in the week but he wasn’t worth the risk last night.
“He’s had a good start to the season, a good pre-season, so if it takes a week or 10 days that we miss him but we get him for 44 games then that’s fair enough.”
Stags drew their home opener against Carlisle on Saturday before a 4-1 Capital One Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night. And, despite no wins, Murray has seen a lot to be pleased with that he can build on.
“I think there has been a lot of positives. It’s two games that have brought two different scenarios, but we’ve got a lot out of them,” he said.
“I thought Saturday was a typical first game of the season. There was a lot of tension. There was a lot of nerves in the camp. It was a scruffy game and we didn’t impose ourselves on them. I think we got caught up in the occasion of the first game and we had eight new players trying to show everybody how good they were. So it was a little bit scrappy.
“Some people took my comments a bit out of context on Saturday when I said I was chuffed with the game. For what I got out of the game I was happy with as there was a lot to build on. “But we need to be a lot better than that. We have to be more of a force with the ball as an attacking threat. But the base that it gave us to build on was really pleasing.
“We were at 60 per cent I believe, but we put something on the board. Last year we’d have lost that game - there’s no qualms about that. So we are a lot more organised and a lot more resilient than we were last year, and to be average and to come away with a draw – that’s a sign of a good team.”
On the Wednesday defeat he added: “If I am being totally honest, with all due respect to the competition, last night was a game too much for us. We haven’t got the squad to cope with Saturday/Tuesday/Friday.
“It was one of those where we tried to make a few changes to keep certain people fresh for Friday and to put people on the pitch we felt could still affect the game.
“We came up against a very strong Sheffield Wednesday side that, speaking to the manager afterwards, have got high expectations to get promoted this year and I think that showed.
“We went there and the performance for 40 minutes was in awe of Sheffield Wednesday. We kind of sat back and watched them play and sat and looked at the big stands and watched the game go by.
“We conceded two sloppy goals which against teams like them you can’t do – two free headers in the box which will be good learning curves for people involved in the game.
“From then I felt we kicked on and the last 15 minutes of the first half we played some good stuff and should have had a couple of goals.
“We got the goal, came out second half, got on the front foot and put them on the back foot. But we saw by the change they made that were panicking a bit so they brought a £2m player on. That’s the difference.”
Murray made four changes at Hillsborough, including big centre half Krystian Pearce, and said: “It showed the importance of Krystian (Pearce) to our side, though I thought Taff (Ryan Tafazolli) was outstanding last night.
“At the same time when we played on the front foot in the second half we created chances and should have had maybe another two goals.
“I think Chris (Beardsley) had a couple of chances and Adi’s (Yussuf) had a chance that normally nine times out of 10 he buries and takes the net off with it as well.
“We played some good stuff though. It’s two games that we’ve come out of wanting more but happy where we are at. There’s loads to build on.”
However, Murray said the hectic start was hampering putting plans into his players on the training ground.
He explained: “We are straight into the mix. For me it’s a bit frustrating as I like training ground time for things to work on.
“It’s only been six weeks and we probably need 12 weeks to get that work into them on the training ground. When you have got the games thick and fast you can’t really get out onto the training ground and do the things you want to do.
“You’ve go to make sure the rest and recovery is right to regenerate the energy levels and make sure you’re not risking any injuries.
“We need to be resilient, which I think we are, and put points on the board - whether that’s in an expansive, entertaining way or we grind results out. I think I have put a team together that has all those ingredients.”