Minor Tweaks Needed For Stags

Another frustrating ninety minutes for Mansfield fans at the One Call Stadium on Saturday as the Stags were held to a 1-1 draw by a stubborn AFC Wimbledon. Tom Elliott's opener was cancelled out by a stunning Chris Clements free kick. Despite talk of a new philosophy this season from manager Adam Murray, home supporters would be forgiven for thinking little has changed, as Matt Green continues to have to feed off long aimless balls which a defender must miss in order to provide him with a chance.

Away from home there has been no such problem for The Stags, where they have picked up 6 point from a possible 9 and created numerous chances, Accrington excluded. The lack of service for Green has led to calls from many supporters for the formation to change to 4-4-2, but Murray has told the press his team is not yet ready for this.

To be honest, a switch to two men up top would not necessarily resolve the problem, which is providing Green with passes to his feet or to run onto. Whilst it would give Green a partner to feed off, I think it would only encourage further long balls, only aimed at a target man rather than Green. If Murray wants to persevere with trying to create a passing style, the first switch should be the formation to 4-2-3-1 at home. Murray often makes this change part way through a game, but because of the starting formation, the players on the pitch are not the ones best suited to carrying it out. Currently, the Stags wingers are receiving the ball in areas of the pitch where they cannot get at their full back and create opportunities

Mitchell Rose is usually moved out on to the right wing, where he does not look comfortable. Despite his pace, he does not look to attack his full back. The option for the right wing is Nathan Thomas. He has not yet delivered on the promise he showed in pre-season but if given the ball in the final third, he has excellent dribbling abilities and can cut inside on to this stronger left foot. Rose should be left in the centre to partner Chris Clements.

Playing Rose and Clements as the central midfielders would mean dropping Adam Chapman. Chapman has underperformed so far this season. He sits on the toes of the central defenders demanding the ball. When he gets it, his first instinct is to look for Green over the top, completely missing out the midfield and not providing the Stags to build towards possession in the final third. When he picks up loose balls further up the pitch, again his first instinct is to play a first time pass into Green, instead of focussing on recycling the ball.

The wingers in a 4-2-3-1 should stay wide. This again is an avenue the Stags should be looking to exploit to gain possession in the final third. The central defenders can play the ball wide to the full backs who can then play down the line for a winger to get at the defence. Westcarr should play on the left, clever movement and ball retention being features of his play.

This leaves the number ten role vacant for the return to the side of Jack Thomas. A fans favourite following his performances at the back end of last season, he has barely been seen this. When he has been introduced, it has mostly been out on the right wing where like Rose, he is not comfortable. Thomas' best attributes are pressurising defenders and driving through the centre of the pitch with the ball. If he receives the ball on the half turn in the hole between midfield and attack, he would be able to drive at a defence and slide balls through for Green to run onto.

The final point to be made is the tempo of the Stags play. When the ball is in Jensen's possession, he is very slow in deciding where to distribute the ball. It may be that he is waiting for his defence to get set, but it also provides the opposition with the chance to do likewise. The pace of a teams play is often dictated by the playmaker, and when Chapman is being used in the 'quarterback' role, that pace is too slow.

The move to 4-2-3-1 would not destabilise the team in my opinion and if the right players are deployed in the system, it could provide the springboard the team need to secure their first home win of the season.