Insider: Pompey v Mansfield

Brian Jensen. Picture: Jon Rigby
Brian Jensen. Picture: Jon Rigby
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After fighting relegation for most of last season it is going pretty well so far.

There was a significant rebuilding programme by manager Adam Murray in the summer as 13 new players arrived.

Now the Stags sit in fourth place, definitely exceeding expectations.

The fans would have been looking for mid-table before the campaign began, especially following the nightmare of last year and almost being relegated.

In fact, Mansfield only survived in the final few weeks – now they are in the top four and thoroughly deserve it.

Murray has brought in a mixture of youth and players with experience at this level and they have blended well.

Players like Craig Westcarr and Mal Benning have impressed, but the manager has really done his homework with his recruitment, getting a very tight squad ethic which is paying dividends.

After initially coming in as caretaker boss following the December 2014 exit of Paul Cox, he inherited a squad which struggled to get results.

Defensively the Stags were not great but in the end they got their job done, even if it was a bit close to comfort.

Following that outcome, the manager aimed for a more expansive and attractive style of football, culminating in a side which is good defensively and decent going forward.

There does, however, remain a concern with the size of his squad, which could case problems further down the line, but it is a strong starting XI and the players are quietly confident they can win matches.

Certainly they are looking forward to Pompey, with it viewed as one of the biggest games of the season.

As for the team, veteran Brian Jensen is in the goal having replaced Scott Shearer when he picked up an ankle infection.

Up front Matt Green probably hasn’t got as many goals as you would expect at present but his all-round play has improved, while goals overall have come from everywhere.

Westcarr himself has four so far and has done very well following a slow start which saw him as a substitute in the early matches.

In the build-up to this match Murray has been singing his praises saying how fantastic he has been for Mansfield.

Although Westcarr is a moaner and a complainer that is part of him, and he is trying to show what he is capable of following a lean time at Fratton Park.

As for the manager, the Football League’s second-youngest boss is doing a very good job. He’s shown he has a bright future ahead of him.

Murray is meticulous in his preparation, doesn’t leave any stone unturned, and I am sure will manage in higher leagues in years to come.

He signed a new two-year deal last week and is definitely one for the future.