Adam Murray believes the arrival of someone as experienced as Mike Whitlow as the club’s new U21s manager shows how Mansfield Town’s reputation is rising within the game.
hitlow has just taken over the reins of the Stags’ new intermediate team that is designed to help youth teamers into the first team and manager Murray said: “I think we were a little bit surprised as a football club.
“I know Mark Hawkins, Steve Hymas and John Dempster were very taken aback.
“It was kind of an eye-opener as to how far the club has come and how people are now looking at Mansfield Town with the calibre of candidate we got.
“Mark and Steve have done wonders to get Mike in. I’ve known Mike for a long time and I worked with him at Burton. You’re probably not going to get someone better in from our surrounding area to come in and the role.
“He ran Burton’s Academy from nothing to being one of the best around. He’s got a track record of getting people into the first team at Burton – I think the average was about three or four a season.
“So for us to go out and get someone of his experience and his background – he is more qualified than anybody I know.”
Murray addeed: “Mike has been involved with first teams as well. “He was obviously a great player and he took the reins at Burton for them for a couple of stints and I think for John Dempster and myself, to have Mike in the middle of us is a great coup again.
“I think it shows the progress the football club is making on and off the field.”
The new U21s, currently awaiting their first fixtures list, are already raring to go.
“There will be about 20 players,” said Murray. “Four of them have been in with us last week – and if I am being totally honest, they’ve surprised me with what standard they are at.
“We’ve seen a couple of them last season with the youth team already.
“We’ve got Zayn Hakeem training with us, who is on fire.
“He is 17 going on 25 and plays like a man and thinks like a man. So I am excited with us pre-season.
“In the new crop coming in with the youth team, there is some real talent in that group. Last year’s was strong but this year’s is going to be right up there.
“So I think on all fronts, we are really looking forward to the season.”