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Ben Garner insists Swindon’s clash with Mansfield as important as Man City tie

Swindon boss Ben Garner is relishing the prospect of tackling Manchester City in the FA Cup on Friday night – but getting three points at Mansfield in Sky Bet League Two next week is more of a priority than causing a major upset.

The visit of the Premier League champions under the lights at the County Ground kicks off the weekend’s third-round action.

While all eyes will be on the Robins pulling off a memorable result against City’s multi-talented squad – currently 10 points clear at the top of the table – when the stardust settles, Garner’s focus will quickly switch to Field Mill on Tuesday.

“We just have to play how we have done all season,” said Garner, whose side beat promotion-chasers Northampton 5-2 at the weekend to sit fifth in the table.

“We are set up to play in a certain way, to make sure we are good and brave on the ball.

“We can’t focus too much on if they do play some of their bigger names or a younger team.”

Garner added: “Consistency is key because with this week, if we prepared in a completely different way and we put a lot more focus on this game then, for me, that is disrespectful when we play Mansfield on Tuesday night, which for me is a big game.

“I know that this is a fantastic game for the football club and huge for the supporters and yes we want to do well, but, you know, I would love to get three points at Mansfield on Tuesday night.

“So we will be consistent with how we prepare. We prepare in the same way for every game in the same level of detail. As long as we do that we’re giving ourselves the best possible chance in each game that we play.”

Former Crystal Palace caretaker manager Keith Millen (right) and coach Ben Garner (centre) walk down the touchline
Ben Garner (centre) started his coaching career at Crystal Palace (Nick Potts/PA)

Garner, 41, started his coaching career in Crystal Palace’s youth set up then later the first team and, while working towards his UEFA Pro Licence, he was mentored by then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

The former Bristol Rovers boss, though, feels the approach of Guardiola with City makes him the standout coach of the modern game.

“I’ve worked under and with some fantastic managers and learned a great deal from them, not just on the pitch, but away from the pitch as well. There have been some wonderful influences on my career,” Garner said.

“I think at the moment in world football, he (Pep) stands out for me as being the best coach in terms of the way that his teams play, which is very much what I enjoy, the way I think the game should be played. I think he’s done a wonderful job at Manchester City.

“People can can talk about the money spent and the standard of the players, but they are still brilliantly coached with and without the ball, in terms of their structure, how they press, their togetherness and work ethic.

“So as I said, many many influences in my career, but, obviously, I’ve got the utmost respect for Pep and what he has achieved.”

Swindon appointed Garner as head coach following Clem Morfuni’s protracted takeover during July, when he only had a squad of half-a-dozen players to work with.

It has been some journey since to mounting a promotion bid and hosting the Premier League champions in front of the live television cameras.

“I’m delighted for the supporters,” said Garner. “What they’ve gone through and the hard times they have had with their football club to now have this game, it is a fantastic reward.

“I hope we can do them proud and really hope that they enjoy the occasion.”

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