Mansfield v Pompey: the opposition view
Mansfield were 18th when Steve Evans arrived at the club.
If they were to go into the final weekend of the season with hopes of making the play-offs, that would be some achievement
There’s no doubt he’s transformed the club since his arrival after Adam Murray left.
The fans are coming back through the turnstiles again, and every time you think Mansfield will fade out of the play-off picture they keep hanging on in there.
It was a very disappointing start to the season for Mansfield, which saw Murray sacked in November.
It wasn’t the worst football we’ve seen here, but Murray was very defensive-minded and probably overly cautious at home.
The line-ups and the way they played at Field Mill over the first half of the season were more what you’d expect from an away game.
The fans got really fed up with it, they ended up sliding down the table and they decided to do something about it.
There were a few candidates mentioned and Evans was one of them, with him being out of work.
We all thought there was no chance of getting him, though, as he was a Championship manager.
But the chairman spoke to him, told him he’d back him all the way financially and convinced him to come in.
He had a lot of offers on the table from teams from higher divisions, but Evans wants to do with Mansfield what he did with Rotherham.
That’s the challenge he wanted to take on and it led to a big clear out in January.
Evans started really well and then brought quite a few players in, with a lot of them being on loan.
They’ve defended superbly this season, and I believe they are second behind Pompey in the clean-sheet table.
Their resilience has been their major asset but goalscoring hasn’t been one of their great attributes. That might make for a tight game this weekend.
Player-wise, there’s a young lad called Ben Whiteman who’s come in from Sheffield United and been exceptional.
He’s caught the eye and scored some important goals, while, at the back, Krystian Pearce is in the best form of his career and been an absolute rock.
Essentially, though, anything which happens this season would be a bonus.
Evans will want a proper summer’s crack at it and get his own players in.
He’s got an awful lot of ideas about who he wants to bring in and what he wants to do.
But, so far, he’s managing to get something exceptional out of a team who were hastily flung together in January.