Danny Rose is currently enjoying the best season of his career in terms of goalscoring.
Mansfield Town were many people’s pre-season tips to win League Two and after a patchy start, Rose’s 14 league goals have helped fire the Stags to within three points of the automatic promotion spots.
His form has also attracted Championship attention from Millwall and promotion-chasing Cardiff City but his focus was firmly on the job that needs doing at Mansfield when FLW’s Sam Preston caught up with him…
First of all, talk me through the season at Mansfield so far…
There was a lot of expectation on us at the start of the season, I think we were the bookies’ favourites to go up. The gaffer signed a lot of good players for this league and took a little bit of time for us to gel.
A lot of people were expecting us to gel straight away but it doesn’t work like that in football any more. Now we’re starting to gel, we’re picking up good points; away from home as well.
We picked up a very good three points away at Exeter and we’re just looking to push on.
Did that pre-season weight of expectation weigh on the players’ minds at all?
I don’t think it weighs on the mind. The players knew at the start of the season when they saw the players coming in – Zander Diamond, Lee Angol, David Mirfin, Will Atkinson, Kane Hemmings, I could go on – we were expecting to be up there at the start of the season but we weren’t.
We had a bit of a sticky patch between November, December time and I think we’ve turned that around now. On our day we’ve got the players to beat any side but in League Two these days anyone can beat anyone – that’s the beauty of the league.
Did you change anything tactically to get the players to perform better together?
It’s just gelling together, the lads getting used to each other on the training ground – it starts from there. We always knew we’d be around there because of the players we’ve got, we saw stuff in training, and now we’re starting to take it onto matchdays.
How are you preparing for the promotion run-in?
It’s an old cliche in football but you’ve just got to take it one game at a time. We had a very tough week last week; we played Swindon, Exeter and Newport all in one week.
We were disappointed not to pick up points at Swindon especially with them being promotion rivals but we reacted well and we gave Newport a very good thumping.
The Exeter game was a very big win but we’ve got Coventry next week and they’re going to be right up there so it doesn’t get any easier in League Two.
Personally, it’s been your best goalscoring season so far. What do you put that down to?
Just being given a chance, to be honest. I was enjoying my football when the gaffer (Steve Evans) came in last season and I just wanted to take my form into a full season this season.
I remember at Bury I started a season well – I scored about eight in the first three months but didn’t score for the next five months. I’ve always said I wanted to carry it on through the season and I hope it continues.
Do you have a goalscoring target for the rest of the season?
I just wanted to beat my record for last season which was ten. I think the gaffer set me a target of 20 for this season so I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get 20. It’s an old cliche again but I just hope the team is up there at the end of the season.
What can you tell us about Steve Evans? We’ve all seen the perception of him but what’s he like with the players?
He just said you’ve got to work hard on the training ground. I didn’t know what he would be like, to be honest. Obviously we’ve all heard about him before he came in but his CV speaks for itself.
It would be his tenth one now if we get there with Mansfield so the stats speak for itself. He’s a good man, his training is very good.
I remember when we played Newport last week, he didn’t want us to get complacent at all. If you beat a team 5-0 and another team 1-0, it’s still just three points.
He’s kept us grounded and we came away from Exeter with the three points. He is a bit of a shouter, you can see that on the sidelines but that’s the way he is and he’s not going to change that for anybody.
When something’s wrong, he’s going to tell us but praise comes at the right time as well. We’ve been doing alright this season so not many of us have seen the bad side of him but there’s been a few where he’s had a shout! You’ve just got to react to that.
You made your professional debut for your hometown club Barnsley. How did that feel?
It was a dream come true to be honest. I’d been there since I was 12. I live there, my family’s from there, my friends are from there so playing for the first team was a dream.
It just didn’t work out for me there. David Flitcroft moved from there and I had a decision to make. Do I stay at Barnsley and not play as much as I’d hope or do I go to Bury in League Two and try and establish myself as a league player?
Both your former clubs – Barnsley and Bury – are in relegation trouble right now. Do you still keep an eye out for their results?
I keep an eye out for both but it’s not nice to see them struggling at the moment. Barnsley have a new manager and I think they’ve got the players to avoid relegation, as have Bury.
Bury spent massively this summer and I keep in touch with some of the lads so I know they’ve got the players to avoid relegation.
They’ve got Lowey in there now who I played with when I was there and you can see he’s got the lads together. I just hope they can pick up a few more points now and get out of the bottom four.
Moving onto quickfire questions now… The best moment of your career so far?
Either my debut with Barnsley or winning promotion with Bury.
Your favourite game of your career?
I’ve had a few derbies to be fair… I think the Notts County one this season was my favourite. To get the two goals, they hadn’t lost in quite a while and knock them off the top.
Who’s the joker in the Mansfield dressing room?
Macca (Alex MacDonald) without a doubt. He’s just always messing around. He’s brilliant and a very good character in the dressing room.
Any examples of his pranks?
No but I can give you an example I saw at Bury. For his birthday, they tied the sport scientist to a chair, dipped him in the ice bath, hose piped him and left him there! Nicky Adams was the main culprit.
What about the worst dressed in the dressing room?
There’s been quite a few questions on Twitter and I’m going to have to echo what one of the lads said and go Jacob Mellis.
He came in in some pink Zara trackies and it didn’t go down too well with the lads. They were horrific.
Who is the dressing room DJ?
Rhys Bennett is always in charge of the speaker before the games. I’ve not heard of too many of the songs he puts on if I’m honest but it gets the lads going before the game so you can’t complain.
There’s a lot of Chris Brown in but I couldn’t even say what genre a lot of it is.