Stags’ boss Steve Evans wants this week’s pre-season trip to Malta to be focussed on hard work and integration for his new-look squad.
Players, directors and staff flew to the Mediterranean island yesterday for a week of intense warm weather training ahead of the 2017/18 Sky Bet League Two campaign.
And the boss wants the hard work to continue after two positive days of pre-season testing last week.
“From [Tuesday] onwards, we have three sessions a day, including the match we play on Thursday – there will be two sessions before that,” the gaffer said.
“It is very much a workmanlike trip and you’ve got the chairman (John Radford) and his One Call directors and families at the front [of the plane]. I certainly know for two of those days they’re locked away [in meetings] and in the words of Carolyn [Radford, CEO] to me: ‘we’re just simply not available’.
“It’s very much a workman trip but at times, the boys will be given some downtime because part of this trip is to be going back and making sure we’ve integrated half the squad because we’ve brought the old half with the new half and hopefully that becomes the new team.
“We want to get some good work done with the balls. The boys were given a plan either at the end of last season or when indeed they joined us and they’ve worked to that plan.
“Every one of them has been tested in the first two days back [and] the testing results have been excellent. If I’m being honest – I’m never going to tell them this – but they’re a little bit ahead of schedule.”
With 13 summer signings coming in to One Call Stadium since the end of last season, the gaffer has placed an emphasis on gelling his new squad together during this week’s trip.
“We obviously had the difficult job, initially, of allocating rooms to different people. If they’ve come from the same club – like Paul Anderson and Zander Diamond being two examples – they won’t share.
“But halfway through the trip we’ll regroup the group and re-share again with someone else. There’s an expression which football managers often use – ‘there’s little cliques in dressing rooms’ and I’ve never been one for it, I literally just handpick them out.
“Like Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘take the bad apples out the barrel and throw them as far away as you can’ because if there’s one, by next week there’ll be two or three.
“We haven’t got any and we don’t look as though we’ve got any and we want to make sure they’re all integrated, focussed and desperate for a starting shirt come the first day of the season.”
The manager has also outlined some of the key characteristics which he believes are essential to ultimately achieve success at the end of the season.
“I think the one [characteristic] that you need is luck. I’ve been very fortunate and lucky in my career – I’ve worked with some talented players, very talented players, far more talented than I ever could have been as a player, but in turn they’ve helped me win nine promotions.
“I’m desperate for ten. The guys on two [promotions] are desperate for three so we need determination, focus, we need drive, we need attitude, [but] above all, I think we need that self-determination to see us through adversity, because it won’t all be good days.
“When we lose, we lose together and when we win, we win together but overall, we have a project here and it’s called promotion.”