Mansfield boss Adam Murray today defended his comments about his players being fatigued last weekend as he prepared his side to face relegation rivals Dagenham & Redbridge in a crucial game at One Call Stadium on Saturday.
Some fans were unhappy over Murray’s comments, suggesting it was an excuse as professional footballers should never be tired, despite half the side that played in the 3-0 defeat at Oxford carrying injuries and having given their all four days earlier in a superb 1-0 win over Luton.
“To use the word fatigue about footballers is a cardinal sin and I understand that,” said Murray.
“But people who understand the game will understand where I am coming from.
“We pushed ourselves to the limit in the previous two games, and to go again at that tempo was always going to be tough.
“People’s opinions about footballers being tired have been there for 100 years. They don’t want to hear it.
“They think footballers get paid lots of money and shouldn’t be tired, but I can assure them the footballer here do not get paid lots of money.
“I know from my own experiences when we won the Championship that, after the games at Braintree and Hereford, by the time we played Wrexham at home in the last game, mentally I was shattered. I had nothing left to give physically.
“Hanging on for that last 20 minutes of a game takes a lot out of you. Whether people like it or not that’s a fact. I won’t lie to people or talk rubbish.
“I work with the group every day so I have a good idea how they feel.
“I had players who couldn’t train at the back end of last week as they had tight hamstrings, tight calves, kicks on the ankle. We have such a small squad I couldn’t risk them or I might have had to put the U16s out on Saturday.
“So we were not physically and tactically as prepared to the smallest detail as we would have wanted at Oxford. That leaves you open to what happened down there. So we take that one on the chin and move on.”
He added “It was always going to be difficult down there in those surroundings with the occasion and the players they’ve got. They are on a different level to us, a different playing field having paid X amount for players who earn wages we couldn’t dream of giving.
“Sometimes it’s all about being negative and we never get a well done for the points that we have picked up. We have come a million miles in two and a half months, though we are nowhere near where I want to be, we’ve not even scratched the surface.
“Away form is a major issue. It is really poor. Home form has been superb so if we can get the away form right it will make the next nine weeks a lot easier.”
Murray said a first week in three without a midweek game had been perfectly timed as he tried to lift and heal his squad for Saturday.
“The bottom line is we need to move forward,” he said. “We got the weekend game out of our system straight away. I wanted to draw a line under it quickly. We have had a really productive week and we can’t wait for Saturday.
“We have managed to get a bit of treatment in the boys who were carrying knocks. We had a few bumps and bruises from previous games and we have managed to get them over the hill.”
Midfielder Chris Clements (gashed ankle) and defender Michael Raynes (hamstring) are both back in training, but Saturday may come too soon for them to be involved.
He said: “They have worked extra hard and both have come on a lot. But they have not really trained a lot and are physically behind the rest of the lads.
“They are two very good players and we will work them hard again today and see where we are at. But, to be fair, the boys who have been playing have been superb.”
He also warned: “I have watched Dagenham a couple of times and they are a good outfit with a lot of pace in the team and very good attacking-wise.”
The Daggers are one place and two points ahead of Mansfield in League Two, but have only lost two of their last 10 since Christmas.
Before last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat by Burton, they had won three and drawn two, including away wins at York and Morecambe.