Stags great ‘optimistic’ about promotion tilt

Stags players celebrate scoring against Coventry in a performance which impressed club legend Sandy Pate

Mansfield Town great Sandy Pate is optimistic about the club’s chances of achieving promotion under new boss David Flitcroft.

A fine 2018 has seen the Stags charge up the table and into the shake-up for the top seven, with eyes on those three automatic promotion spots.

Sandy Pate (right)

But the club was rocked last week when Steve Evans resigned from his managerial post to take up a job at League One side Peterborough United.

Chairman John Radford and chief executive officer Carolyn Radford moved swiftly to find a successor and just days later installed Flitcroft at the helm.

Flitcroft, who achieved promotion from League Two with Bury in 2015, left fellow play-off challengers Swindon to take up the role at the One Call Stadium.

And Pate, one of Mansfield’s all time record appearance holders who was part of the promotion clinching sides of 1975 and 1977, is looking forward to seeing Flitcroft’s team take to the field.

Stags great Sandy Pate pictured in his playing days

He said: “On paper it looks like a good move, a really good appointment, and I look forward to watching his team play. We’ve got some good players down there playing some good football. But there are no guarantees. Football is a funny old game.

“Steve Evans has left a good group of players and there’s plenty reason for optimism now David Flitcroft has come in. They’re playing well and Flitcroft is now the man to take them on and keep that good run going.

“They’re on the right track, it’s disappointing to see Evans go but with Flitcroft I’m upbeat about it.”

Pate said he was impressed with the Swindon Town side that came to the One Call Stadium in October and left with all three points in a 3-1 win over Stags.

“Swindon played really well against us, I thought they were a very decent team,” said Pate. “So if that’s down to him then that offers some optimism. He had a good playing career and it looks like he’s done well in management as well so things might not be as bad as what they appeared to be.

“It could work in our favour. Steve Evans had been popular with the fans as we started to pick up a bit but he’s gone now. The new manager has a good background and he’s experienced both as a player and a manager. I don’t feel like there’s a need to be pessimistic, let’s see what he can do.”

There was a wave of disappointment among the Stags fanbase when Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor opted to jump ship for Posh last week - a feeling shared by Pate.

“I just had a feeling that this was going to be a good year and that we had a really good chance of promotion and then the manager leaves. I was disappointed that he decided to leave the club at that particular time,” he said.

“If you’ve got to go, or if you’ve been offered better prospects then you’ve got to take it in all walks of life, he didn’t hang on until the end of the season and then go. Maybe he didn’t have that choice? We’ll never know.

“I was disappointed to see him go. If you’ve signed a contract, you’ve signed a contract. But perhaps I’m living in the past.”

Pate made 479 appearances for Stags over 11 seasons, second in the club’s all-time records behind Rod Arnold (513), and believes the same targets for promotion stand true in the modern era.

“When we were involved in championship games we had a format where we aimed to be in the top 10 by Christmas, the top six by Easter then the run in where you hoped to pick points up. We used to call it 10-6-2. Those were our targets.

“I think those still stand today. That’s why I was quite happy with us not going up last year because I didn’t think we were quite ready for promotion. The worst thing to happen would have been to get promotion then struggle in the bottom half.

“Everyone wants promotion but I didn’t think we were quite ready for that last year. I think we are this time around,” he added.

More from Sport