Mansfield Town boss John Dempster returns to his old club Crawley Town side on Saturday saying he can see a lot of similarities between the successful side he played in there and his current charges.
Crawley are only outside the play-offs on goal difference at the moment, but when Dempster was there enjoyed two promotions.
“I wasn’t there for a great length of time, but the time I had there I really enjoyed,” he said.
“It was a successful time under Steve Evans. We had back-to-back promotions from the Conference and then automatic promotion on the last day in League Two.
“They were happy times. We had an incredible team spirit with some brilliant characters – it was almost ‘Crazy Gang-like’ at times.
“I look at this current campaign and there are some similarities in terms of the ingredients we’ve got in our squad and the backing we’ve had from the owners.
“We had good centre forwards – and I think we’ve got those within our squad. We had a team of good footballers that could mix it as well.
“At League Two level if you can’t mix it when the going gets tough when it comes to a physical battle then you will struggle. You need that in your armoury as well.
“We also kept a lot of clean sheets so you need good defenders.
“But the team spirit is key. You get that from being together on a daily basis and working hard together trying to achieve a common goal. Those are the similarities I recognise.”
He added: “I look back with fond memories but also realise the similarities to us.
“There have been loads of changes on and off the pitch since I was there, so there won’t be too many familiar faces. But I am not going there for a ‘mothers’ meeting’ and to shake peoples’ hands. We are going there to hopefully bring three points back to Mansfield.
“We don’t fear anyone in this league and we will be going there to try to get the maximum return. If we are at our very best I am sure we can do that.
“Their form at home is good, so it’s a massive challenge, but we’re going there hoping to upset that.
“I have had them watched several times and they are a very mobile team.
“The loan signings that they have injected into the squad have improved them no end
“So we’re going to have to be on our mettle to go there and bring the points home as the reports we’ve had have been very positive.
“If we can train like we did last week with that intensity and tempo, then that will only make the game easier.”
Last season there were a few Crawley supporters who wanted manager Gabriele Cioffi out.
But after the summer of bringing in his own squad and playing some attractive football he is winning them over and the 1-0 victory over Premier League side Norwich City in the Carabao Cup will live long in the memories of the Reds’ fans.
There seems to be more belief in the players and more cohesion to their play this time around.
Crawley seem determined to never give and in the last three games they have come from behind together get a point or a win.
They are playing some lovely football and they are scoring goals - something which has eluded them in the last couple of seasons. They have 11 so far and the fans are loving it.
Publicly they are looking to improve on last season’s 19th finish but secretly they are hoping for a play-off push – so the early signs are good.
There have been a few signings over the summer - Bez Lubala, Nathan Ferguson, Ashley Nadesan, Mason Bloomfield, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Jack Powell, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Jamie Sendles-White, Michael Luyambula, and the latest two Denzeil Boadu and Gyliano van Velzen.
Dominic Poleon, keeper Yusuf Mersin, Bondz N’Gala and Filipe Morais have left.
Lubala has caught the eye with five league goals so far, including his brilliant free kick against Macclesfield on Saturday.
He is on loan from Birmingham and has quickly become a fans favourite.
Former Stags striker Ollie Palmer continues to be a handful up front.
Reds captain Jimmy Smith is still out after a long term injury picked up last October and Ashley Nadesan could be a doubt after missing last week’s match against Macclesfield, but otherwise Reds are fully fit and raring to go.