'There's so much to play for' - U's Mandron
PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 March 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Mikael Mandron insists that he and his Colchester United team-mates are "still confident" of finishing in the League Two play-off zone this season.
Back-to-back 3-0 defeats, at home to Forest Green Rovers and away at Exeter City, have seen John McGreal’s men slide out of the top seven. In fact, they have lost three of their last four matches by a 3-0 scoreline.
But the U’s are only one place and one point adrift of where they want to be, going into tomorrow’s tough home test against Tranmere Rovers, who are the in-form team in League Two.
“There’s so much to play for,” insisted Mandron.
“There are still eight games to go, so there are so many points up for grabs.
“We are still very confident, and we are working very hard to get into the play-offs. That’s been our target all season, and it still is.
“We are not hiding from the fact that we will be very disappointed if we miss out, having been in and around the top seven all season.
“We are just out of it at the moment, but we are not looking at it in too much depth, because things change from week to week. We just go out onto the pitch and take it one game at a time.”
Tranmere Rovers have risen from mid-table up to fifth spot, in recent weeks, thanks to a marvellous recent run that has seen them win five matches on the bounce, including away successes at play-off rivals Exeter City and relegation strugglers Port Vale.
The Prenton Park outfit are now four points clear of the eighth-placed U’s, and with a game in hand.
They can also boast League Two’s leading goalscorer, James Norwood, who has bagged 27 goals in all competitions this season, 25 of them in the league.
“We know that we are up against a quality side in Tranmere,” continued Mandron.
“But it’s in our own hands, and we know how good we can play as a team, especially when we are at home.
“We have plenty of confidence, despite the recent defeats, and we will be doing everything that we can to get the victory.
“Of course we need the fans behind us, like they have been all season, home and away.
“There should be a big atmosphere this weekend, and team morale is still very good.
“We have made sure that we haven’t been feeling too high or too low this season.
“Obviously the first goal in a game can be very important in a game, that always helps.
“You can build up momentum, and get on top if you score the opening goal. When we have got the first goal, we have usually gone on to win the game, or at least draw it.”
Mandron played virtually every minute of his first season with the U’s, during 2017-18, and as a target man, ending the campaign with 10 goals.
But this term has been a very different affair for the 24-year-old former Sunderland and Wigan Athletic striker.
Mandron has spent much of it warming up the substitutes’ bench, while in recent weeks he has operated in central midfield, rather than as out-and-out front-man. He has only netted two goals this season.
“I’ve really been enjoying it in central midfield, because I’ve been so involved,” explained Mandron.
“There’s always something to do, whether that be tackling, heading the ball, getting the ball forward, and running everywhere.
“The gaffer asked me to play in this position, and I will always give it my best, in any position.
“I have played in the No. 10 role before, when I was very young and at Sunderland. But I was only about 14-year-old at the time, and I haven’t done it much since.
“I’m supposed to be playing in the No. 10 or No. 8 role, but I also play a lot deeper as well, because I’m always looking to help out the team defensively as well.
“If I feel that I can help out the team, anywhere on the pitch, then I will do. I always give my all.
“However, I’m not going in goal! Sorry, but I’m not going to play there!” joked Mandron.
He continued: “Even at Exeter (3-0 defeat) last weekend, I had lots of chances to score, despite playing in midfield.
“I got into some good positions and got some shots off. Their keeper (Christy Pym) made some good saves, but I expected more from myself in some positions.
“It’s a more demanding position to play in, because it never stops. There’s always someone to mark, but I’m a very fit lad and I nearly always run more than anyone else on the pitch,” added Mandron.