Ryan Tafazolli - 'Promotion is a Realistic Target'

Stags towering central defender Ryan Tafazolli believes promotion is a realistic target for Mansfield Town in the upcoming season, which gets under way on the 8th of August at home to Carlisle. One of few surviving faces from last seasons disappointing campaign, Tafazolli is confident that the newly assembled squad has what it takes to catapult Mansfield Town towards the top of the table, perhaps following in the footsteps of Wycombe Wanderers in narrowly avoiding relegation and following up with a promotion push.

There has been speculation in the past as to Tafazolli's future at the club, with teams from higher divisions reportedly monitoring his progress at the start of last season. However, with club taking up an option on Tafazolli's contract, he indicated he was happy to commit to the Stags 'I was delighted to stay. I feel this is the best club for me to be at, at this point in my career. The coaching staff are superb and this season I can only improve with their help.'

When reflecting on last season and what would be different this time around, Tafazolli answered 'Obviously it was always going to be hard with a change of manager mid way through the season, however this season we have a fresh squad and we have a whole pre-season together under the manager. We've come such a long way already in the first week and the things the Gaffer is trying to implement to the new squad will give us a great chance of success this season.' We have heard a lot from Adam Murray and the new players that have been brought in about the philosophy he wants to imprint on his squad. Questioned on this, the former Southampton man replied 'The philosophy the manager is using is the most effective way to get results in this league. Obviously everyone likes to see pretty football but there's no point unless it's penetrative and effective and I think you'll see with our new playing style a combination of both.'

If Murray and the players are able to produce a possession based system which produces results, the Mansfield fans will surely be over the moon after the more agricultural product that has been on display at the One Call Stadium in recent years. 

Following the much celebrated return of Matt Green to the club, Tafazolli used the medium of Twitter to his express his delight at the man he refers to as 'The Predator' returned to the club, even 'hash-tagging' his post with the word 'promotion'. When I queried if he believe promotion to be achievable, his retort was straight to the point 'I definitely think promotion is a realistic target. We've come such a long way in one week and I personally already feel in the best shape I've been in in a long time. With this continuation of progress each week, I feel the 1%'s will all add up and can hopefully separate us from other team's outside the play-offs come the end of season and lead to promotion. The standard in training has been very high and everyone demands a lot from each other daily.'

Murray's mantra is clearly registering with his squad, as he has mentioned on numerous occasions to the media that he believes the 'one percent's' all add towards a clubs on-field success. With a week of residential team-bonding, tactical analysis and tough running under their belts, the Stags ran out 5-1 winners against local side Rainworth Miners Welfare on Saturday afternoon. Discussing the dreaded first week back, Tafazolli quipped 'I kept myself in good shape over the summer so I wouldn't struggle too much! The first day comprised of fitness testing and football. A Yo-yo test was used to assess where we're at stamina wise.' I'm assured that a yo-yo test is a form of fitness testing akin to a bleep test, rather than players displaying their skills with a piece of plastic on the end of a string!

Prior to this Saturday, the absence of action on the pitch means that focus inevitably shifted to the clubs transfer activities. Mansfield Town have certainly been busy, in fact the busiest league club in England with twelve new faces buying into Murray's vision for the future. On how the new signings are fitting in, Tafazolli told me 'The new players settled in straight away. Everyone has taken to each other and the team spirit is already high. There's good banter between the lads, and there are already early signs that this squad can achieve big things'. Former Northampton defender Lee Collins will be someone Ryan will likely work closely with throughout the next year or so and he was fulsome in his praise 'It was great to see someone of Lee's experience sign. He has been a class act in training and I hope we're able to take our good relationship we have off the pitch, on to the pitch and form a good partnership'. 

For a player who is arguably still finding his feet in the game at the age of 23, Ryan has a level head on his shoulder and has time for the fans, seen to best effect this week when he visited the home of a young supporter to hand deliver a season ticket. He is well aware of the nature of the beast however, and showed a level of understanding when asked about players who have chosen to ply their trade elsewhere, some of whom had been teammates for a number of years, such as Richie Sutton, Matt Rhead and Martin Riley 'I was sad to see them go as I'd played with a few of them for 3 years now, but that's football and these things happen all the time. I wish them all the best in their careers as they were great lads.'

When lastly asked if had any personal targets for the coming season, he was keen to point out that whilst he does set individual goals, Mansfield Town are a club who match his ambitions  'I set short, medium and long term goals for myself. This season my personal goals interlink with the club's. The main one being pushing for promotion. Obviously I also set smaller ones too so for example, try and keep a clean sheet against Carlisle on the first game of the season, but this year, my personal goals are similar to the club's which I think will be the same for many of the other players and with this selfless mentality the squad has, I'm hoping it brings success and we have a great season!'

It is clear that if defensive stopper speaks for the rest of the squad, the camp is brimming with confidence ahead of the new campaign and is on the hunt for success. Adam Murray has clearly detailed to his players that if they stay focused on team ethic and the minutest of details, they have the quality on the field to give anybody a run for their money. Whilst offering no guarantee for the coming season, the teams that made up last terms League Two were a much of a muchness in terms of technical ability but the more organised and mentally strong teams were able to rise to the top. 

It is hard not to get carried away with the positivity flowing out of the club at the moment, but this weekends fixture away at Tamworth should provide a clearer insight as to the progress made on the pitch over the summer. 


  1. Great article, it really is hard not to get carried away and think we are certainly pushing in the right direction now.


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