During the week, AFC Mansfield confirmed that they to be relegated back to the NCEL following their failure to meet ground regulations and this has in turn filtered onto the pitch as they lost 4-0 to mid-table Stamford yesterday.
Manager Mark Wark and his Assistant Jon Froggatt spoke to their media team:
Gaffer, that’s a 4-0 defeat to Stamford. Can you have any complaints after that?
Mark Ward, Manager:
Not at all. I said to the lads in there and they know how I feel. I can’t thank them enough for the reaction they gave me when I took over as Manager, the results we’ve had and obviously staying up mathematically. They know and I’ve told them in there: today was embarrassing.
It’s been handled not very good the way that we’re being relegated’s come out. Notts. FA put it out there, which has forced the club to put it out there. We didn’t have time to tell the lads or anything. They found out on social media. We trained this week. I’ve tried to get their mentality right but it’s like flogging a dead horse today. There’s nothing there. Not from everybody but I’m just not built that way. I can’t. No matter what I’m doing – if I go in my son’s Under-11s team tomorrow or if I play golf – I want to win and circumstances for me don’t change how I want to play or what I want to do.
It’s about character. I learned a lot today about moving forward and players and character. I’m just so mad that, with three games to go, we couldn’t just see the season out on a high. I feel disappointed myself. I feel gutted myself but I come up and I give my everything. I’ve given my all all season and I’ll see the season out and I’ll do the best I can but it’s like banging your head against a brick wall.
Jon, there was plenty of energy in the 3-0 win at Gresley last week but do you think it that this was pretty much inevitable that this would happen after the announcement of the club’s relegation?
Jon Froggatt, Assistant Manager:
“Yes. We spoke about it, didn’t we, on the way down and I thought that would happen today. I thought that’s the reaction you’d get but I’m a winner myself and when you cross what white line it shouldn’t really matter to you. You should want to go and win a game of football and be better than whoever you’re playing against.
“It’s been a bad end to a bad week. I feel for Mark. I think he’s done a great job since he took over. The lads have put a great shift in for him and had that reaction for him this season. To stay up mathematically to then be told that, it is deflating and I can see it from a player’s point of view. They’ve worked their socks off all season to keep in this League and it’s obviously been taken out of their hands for other issues. Yes, I do feel for him and I do feel for the lads. When you go out on that pitch, you should give it your all, really.
The reaction from the players individually in this game, do you think that’s going to help you two in terms of recruitment for next season? Who’s going to be here and who’s not?
Jon Froggatt, Assistant Manager:
Yes. We’ve got a lot to talk about now for next season and the league we’re going to be in. We’ll have a sit down with the Chairman and we’ll discuss which players we want to keep and what players we’ll be looking to bring in.
Gaffer, it’s Carlton on Monday and they’ve still got something to fight for. Considering the circumstances, how difficult is it going to be to try and get a result out of that one?
Mark Ward, Manager:
Probably as difficult as any management game I’ve ever had. Like you said, they’re fighting for it. It’s no secret about their pitch. They put the ball forward, they put it on you with throw ins and you need heart and desire. You need a lot of bottle going to Carlton to pick a result up and if you don’t they’ll run over the top of you. After that performance I’m not looking forward to it, to be honest.
I’ve told them in there, for the sake of two games, if you’re not bothered then let me know before Monday. I’d rather go there with nine men, like we did at Wisbech when we had something to fight for and held our own with nine men. It’s not the fact that that we can’t do it, it’s the fact of the mentality. Again, obviously as management, we have to try and enforce our mentality on the players and I think we have done until the news. I think the news came in and you could have the best manager in the world here and I’m sure they’ll struggle as well.
We got to go and do it. People are contracted to come and do it. People are going to still get paid but I just don’t think that the heart and the desire’s there any more. For me, it’s made my decisions on a lot of players quite easy, to be honest with you, because like I’ve said, no matter where we’re playing or what we’re doing – pre-season friendlies next season – I want the lads to be out there running their blood to water, getting stuck in. It’s a mentality. If you can do that, you’ll win games. If you’ve got players on the pitch that have got quality and that comes through afterwards, you know you’ll be competing at the top end of the table and not fighting relegation.
To put it into perspective, Stamford have put us to the sword today and they’re mid-table. We’ve beaten better teams; no disrespect to them. We can do it but again it’s about mentality. It’s about consistency and maybe that’s why we’re in the position we’re in.