Dino Maamria Q&A: Stevenage boss on Mansfield, the play-offs, Kurtis Guthrie, playing in Ronnie Henry's testimonial and more
PUBLISHED: 16:35 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:45 26 April 2019
Stevenage boss Dino Maamria spoke to CometSport reporter Dan Mountney ahead of Boro's trip to Mansfield in Sky Bet League Two. Read on for his in-depth Q&A, including his views on the play-offs, in form striker Kurtis Guthrie, playing in Ronnie Henry's testimonial and much more.
Dan Mountney: It's a massive game this weekend at Mansfield, with your side still in with a chance of the play-offs. You must be expecting a difficult game?
Dino Maamria: “They are all massive. Last week was massive, Port Vale was massive. They are all massive when it gets to this stage of the season. I think this time of the year, and this week especially, you must prepare the players mentally for the challenge, game after game. They are all big games so we've got to cope with that. That's been our focus this week. Mansfield away is always a tough place to go. They are very good at home, have a good fan base to back them. We've got to go there, but the pressure is on them to produce. We are going to go there and do what we've been doing the last three or four games, just being positive and confident in doing what we are good at.”
Dan Mountney: You mentioned the pressure on them. With your side going for the play-offs and needing a result, would you rather play someone who has something to play for or not got anything to play for?
Dino Maamria: “It doesn't really matter because you can never underestimate anybody. We have Cheltenham next week who have nothing to play for, and I'm sure the pressure will be all off them and they can play with freedom. I've got to just focus on us. Yes, the opposition are under pressure, the fans will be putting them under pressure I think. Mansfield have spent heavily in the last two or three years to try and get out of League Two, and that's why it's a must-win game for them. For us, we'll focus on doing what we've been doing. Over the last month or so no one would have thought we'd have been in this position. We started the month on a really strong note. We've had three wins and a draw in April. We are fifth in the form table now and my thinking tomorrow is getting to the top of the form table tomorrow, which will put us in a good place.”
Dan Mountney: You are six unbeaten on the road. That's got to give you confidence going to such a difficult place as Mansfield?
Dino Maamria: “We've changed our mentality a bit. It was a problem for us at the start of the season but we address it. You are playing the same opposition home or away, so you just have to focus on what happens on the pitch and the rest shouldn't affect your performance. We've been positive away from home, we attack teams away from home, and that won't change at the weekend.”
Dan Mountney: Has there been much talk of the play-offs or have you been trying to keep that to a minimum?
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Dino Maamria: “We haven't spoken about the play-offs. We are taking it one game at a time. We do what we have to do. It's funny because ask me about must-win games but every game is a must-win game for us. We play one game at a time. The good thing about where we are is that there's a massive shift in the town. We are in with a shout of the play-offs and that's massive for the town, rather than just playing for nothing at this stage of the season. We want to keep the buzz going and keep people talking.”
Dan Mountney: Kurtis Guthrie has been playing really well lately, scoring six goals in four games. What have you made of his form?
Dino Maamria: “Kurtis is playing in a role that really suits him and I think that has made a big difference. He is a fantastic talent, I knew that when I signed him. He's got huge potential, he's still young and I'm glad people are seeing I saw in him before I signed him. People have doubted him in the past, but I never did. I've always believed in his ability and I'm so happy to see the Kurtis Guthrie we know.”
Dan Mountney: You've started playing with three at the back, and I know you said it's something you wanted to introduce for a while. Is that the system you'll be sticking with?
Dino Maamria: “No, because I am fairly flexible. I play the system that suits us to win a football match and that is not a guarantee that I play with three at the back against Exeter. We finished the game with a 4-4-2 at Exeter and played well, so some things I have to look at, but I'm quite adaptable.”
Dan Mountney: You are putting your boots back and playing in Ronnie Henry's testimonial. Are you looking forward to that?
Dino Maamria: “I will when I get the time to think about it because the games are coming thick and fast, big games as well, so I've not been thinking much about it. What I'm looking forward to most is seeing some great people who played for this football club back together. That's something really good to have the team that won promotion in 2010 back together. I'm looking forward to seeing all these faces. I'm really excited to people like Steve Morison, George Boyd and Luke Freeman back here. It's going to be a great day for everyone.”
Dan Mountney: Graham Westley is coming back as well, someone you worked under and know well. Have you spoken to him much since you've been manager here and has he given you any advice?
Dino Maamria: “We speak, but it's not so much advice. I spoke to him a few months ago. He's doing his business and I'm busy here doing mine. Sometimes our jobs take over. It'll be fantastic to see him back, reconnecting with those players that he had in the past. He's been a big part of this club, a good man, and I'm looking forward to seeing him back.”