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Tales from the transfer market

Paul Fletcher | 17:00 UK time, Thursday, 24 July 2008

Lincoln City manager Peter Jackson tells a cracking story from his days as a Newcastle player.

It was late summer 1987 and mercurial Brazilian Mirandinha, the star import at the club, held a BBQ at his house before the start of the season.

Jacko, who had been blown away by the South American's skills in training, had a great time but was a touch puzzled when he noticed that the central heating was turned up full blast, with condensation running down the windows.

Needless to say, when the English winter firmly took hold Mirandinha's form dropped off spectacularly (a warning perhaps to Hull fans excited about the signing of Geovanni?).

jackson466.jpgThe point of the story is that managers need to think carefully about the players they sign. Whether someone will be a success or a failure at his new club is not merely based upon his ability as a footballer.

Yet signing a player is far from an exact science and the methods by which new faces arrive at a club can vary spectacularly.

Take, as an example, Jackson's current club.

Jackson was sitting in his office at the training ground earlier in the summer when he noticed a bloke hanging around outside his door.

It turned out to be a Romanian who wanted to know whether the Imps would be interested in signing him. Jackson, ever the gentleman, took the player's CV and told him to come back when pre-season training started.

"I put it in the bottom drawer and forgot about it," Jackson told me. "But a couple of weeks later he was spotted running around the training ground with his wife on his back."

The player's name is Adrian Patulea and his persistence has now been rewarded with a trial at the club.

Patulea scored a hat-trick coming off the bench in his first game for Lincoln and, once the bizarre story of his arrival at Sincil Bank became public news, plenty of media attention came his way.

But the case of Patulea belongs firmly at the more surreal end of the signing spectrum.

The more typical formula involves plenty of hard work, research and patience.

Having compiled a long list of possible targets at the end of last season, Jackson and his assistant, Iffy Onuora, then whittled down the names to just seven.

The selection process involved several criteria, namely targeting positions that needed strengthening, who was likely to be available, whether there was a realistic chance of bringing them to the club and, in an ideal world, whether they would be available on a free transfer.

There are also broader considerations, such as whether to opt for younger players or try to bring in experienced pros.

But there is one key element that for Jackson will always remain the same.

"You stand still as a club if you bring in players of similar ability to those you have let go," he says. "You have to improve the quality."

With a lot of young players in his squad Jackson wanted some wise, old heads this summer and is clearly thrilled to have signed six of his targets, which include FA Cup winner Frank Sinclair and League Cup winner Stefan Oakes.

Jackson had never met four of his signings before, so it is a great source of pride to the Imps manager that he managed to land so many of his targets.

"I had to stamp my personality on the situation straight away, let the player see what I am all about and how ambitious I am."

You can see his point. Trying to sell Sincil Bank to a player is a very different proposition to persuading someone to join the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool to a player

Lincoln do not pay particularly big wages, even by League Two standards, and have been in the lowest tier of the Football League since 1999.

Sinclair, for example, had offers from Brighton and Wycombe but opted to join the man who managed him at Huddersfield even if it was for less money. Even though Jackson knew Sinclair he still describes it as a "huge compliment" that the player signed for him.

I find it refreshing to hear that sometimes ambition and personality can traverse financial shortcomings.

It is also interesting to discover that Jackson is also willing to take the odd risk to try to unearth a rough diamond.

Besieged by faxes, e-mails, CVs and DVDs from players and agents, he decided to offer a trial to London amateur Dean Barnes, who had sent the Imps boss a DVD of himself in action.

Barnes, a striker, came up for the match against Retford on Tuesday and, although it proved to be a fruitless exercise in the end, Jackson has no regrets about taking a look at him.

"Dean sent out DVDs to about 40 clubs and we were the only one to answer him," said the 47-year-old.

"You are really lucky if you pick a player from a CV, DVD or a fax, have a look at him and then sign him but it is sometimes worth taking a chance."

Jackson is still after a striker and thus his business for the summer is not yet finished.

But he is more than happy with the new faces he has brought in so far and is confident that the club will mount a real push for promotion this season.

When Jackson took over at the club at the end of last October, the Imps had just nine points but his enthusiasm and desire to succeed soon took hold and he quickly became hugely popular with Lincoln supporters.

The club ended last season just 10 points off the play-offs and it would be an amazing story if Jackson could take Lincoln up this time around - amazing in more ways than one.

Jackson was diagnosed with throat cancer in February and temporarily stood down to undergo an intense course of radiotherapy, with Onuora taking charge.

The Yorkshireman was still in hospital when he discussed his retained list with Onuora at the end of last season but has since received the all-clear.

Speak to him about his illness and it is all too obvious that Jackson has been to places he does not want to revisit - but equally evident is how happy he is to be back at work.

I have known and liked Jacko for more than a decade and really hope it works out for him this season, but to be honest I'm just glad that he is back doing what he does best.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good luck Jacko, hope you have finally beaten the throat issue. Look forward to your guys getting a good beating by the Bantams at VP and at Sincil Bank .
    Nice story about the Romanian, fingers crossed he won't score against us.

  • Comment number 2.

    Jack you are a legend and we all miss you down at the Pharm i hope you beat the throat issue and continue to be the great boss that we know you are and maybe meet us in the chamionship or league 1.

  • Comment number 3.

    it was meant to say Jacko not jack

  • Comment number 4.

    Interesting article, Paul. Mirandinha, now there's a blast from the past! One more thing - I hate to be a grammatical pedant but 'Jackson was sat' is a mixture of two forms of past tense. Any chance of changing it to 'Jackson was sitting' and making an grumpy young man happy? Cheers.

  • Comment number 5.

    Lincoln 3
    Aston Villa 1

  • Comment number 6.

    tjthenomad - consider it done.

  • Comment number 7.

    Refreshin article Paul, good read.

    Before i started readin i thought it'd be a Robboesque rant about some of the transfers goin on this summer. But instead it was interesting, informative and quite amusing. Nice to know football can still be run by personality and a bit of chance rather than corporation style number crunching.

    Good luck to Jacko for next season and i hope the Romanian turns out to be their Pele, and Lincoln City his Santos.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Lincoln native and a follower of the mighty imps as well as my lifelong love Arsenal I wanted to say how proud I am of Peter Jackson as a man and a manager. I will be giving my full support to our glorious charge for League One. COME ON YOU RED IMPS

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    My memory may be playing tricks here but I seem remember Lincoln signed a striker for £25 and a load of tracksuits. Might have been Mick Harford...or was it Settori?

  • Comment number 11.

    Jacko, give us a wave! Jacko, Jacko, give us a wave!

    We are all proud of him here in Lincoln for saving us from almost certain doom last season, and it all looks good for the new season.

    And Tuumble, i'm fairly sure that it was Mick Harford that we signed for £25 and some tracksuits!!

    Up the Imps!

  • Comment number 12.

    really great article! keep up the good work

  • Comment number 13.

    Best manager that Town ever had the stupidity to let go (twice!). So pleased to see that he's better and still working his magic, even if it's for another club.

  • Comment number 14.

    What happened to my previous comment?

  • Comment number 15.

    All I said was that someone calling himself "Fletch" on Five Live was bordering on the obscene with endless inuendoes, and that if this person wasn't the same (or even was the same), then well done for the improvement.

    Anyway, a good article, and if you are reading this, Fletch, and you are the Geordie who works for Five Live, then please take my advice on board and cut out the unnecessary pervy remarks. They are cringeworthy and idiotic.

  • Comment number 16.

    Firstly, an excellent, well written blog.
    Secondly, Peter Jackson is a footballing legend, both as a player and manager. I wish him and Iffy (another of my favourite ever players - and one of a select few with a degree (Economics from Bradford Uni, as I remember) all the best for the season.

    I'm glad Jacko has recovered from cancer and wish him and the team (with the new Hagi up front and Frank at RB) all the best for the season.

    See you in the JPT North final.

  • Comment number 17.

    Jacko put in sterling service at Huddersfield as a player and manager and his struggle to overcome cancer was a proper "heart warming" story of last season........good luck Jacko.

  • Comment number 18.

    I saw Lincoln plat at Stockport last season, where they convincingly beat one of the teams to get promoted from League 2 and played some decent football. If they can play that kind of football consistently this season, they'd have a great chance of going up, I'm certainly having a bet at the 25/1 thats being offered by some bookies.

    I don't have the greatest knowledge of 'lower league football', but all of my friends who follow teams at that level say what a good manager Jackson is and that his teams always try to play proper football, so good luck to him and Lincoln for the forthcoming season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Anyone else notice how much better the grammar is - and how much more polite the correspondents are - on any article relating to lower league football?

  • Comment number 20.

    Jacko your a legend, keep up he good work!


  • Comment number 21.

    Glad to hear the all clear! Hope Lincoln have an excellent season.

    It's fascinating where players get picked up from though. My local team (a Unibond League 1 side) last season picked up a chap from our monday night after work football games on the pitch. He's been given an extended run in the team, and was 2nd in our "player of the season" awards.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great to see the grammar tidied up.

    As a Notts County supporter I am not particularly keen on Lincoln, but Peter Jackson deserves to do well so I am therefore happy to wish them all the best.

  • Comment number 23.

    wow your right! these post are much more polite and the grammer is much better. i dont know if it is because of the content of the article and not one all about a premiership team but it is refreshing.

    i will be keeping my eye on the imps this season now and maybe even have a little flutter.

    barnsley look good value also in the championship 80/1 remember their cup run last season?

  • Comment number 24.


    Great article. It's truly refreshing to see a feature based on League 2 - I sometimes feel guilty for not knowing enough about clubs like Lincoln.

    Keep up the good work, I hope they have a great season!

  • Comment number 25.

    ironically spellled grammar wrong doh doh doh

  • Comment number 26.

    Good article. It is nice to see the BBC giving much-deserved and much-needed attention to the 'smaller' clubs in our leagues. You get real football and real stories then. It is a refreshing change to Phil McNulty's incessant blogging about the tedious goings-ons of the 'big four'.

    Good luck to Lincoln for the new season, and Jackson in his future.

  • Comment number 27.

    Not only did we sign Mick Harford, but Mick Smith, Keith Laybourne and Alan Eden were also in the package - what a bargain!

  • Comment number 28.

    bradford to boss this league- sorry lincoln possibly playoffs at best, but you cannot compete with the financial and managerial greatness of the mighty bantams- michael boulding will rip this league apart.

  • Comment number 29.

    I remember watching Jacko playing for Bradford whan I was a kid during the 80, playing alongside Futcher and Ellis bringing along the likes of John Hendrie and Stuart McCall.

    Awsome player, captain, coach and manager. wish Lincoln all the best for the season, you have the best resource manager in the league.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sad footballesque trite dialogue, ranks alongside 'He did good' Must have been looks of surprise when the brazillian was a tad cold in Newcastle mmmmm

  • Comment number 31.

    At the risk of repeating what's been said before, wasn't it a refreshing change to read a blog about a lower league team and how the transfer market works for them, and not the tales of 'stupid-money' woe we get from the Prem?
    Clearly I'm massively biased as an Imps fan, but the work Jacko's done in strengthening our squad fills me with optimism!

  • Comment number 32.

    Yes it was refreshing and nothing against Jacko at all - just tired if reading a lot of similar stuff this summer. Probably what you can write about football that's new can be written on a very small piece of paper - big club or small club - very good luck to the Imps this season, it's a lovely homely club with a lot of history!

  • Comment number 33.

    Firstly, great article - brought back some memories for me, as I remember watching Mira beat Grobelaar all ends up and having the ball smash off one post, go all the way along the line and not go in...

    And I bet it's only a matter of time until someone buys a player because "they're really good on Football Manager on my PC" or something similar. If it hasn't already happened - does anyone actually know WHY Souness signed Ali Dia at Southampton?

    Secondly re: "Anyone else notice how much better the grammar is - and how much more polite the correspondents are - on any article relating to lower league football?"

    Sadly, yes. I'm a Toon fan but have given up on commenting on most fan sites because it seems very much to be "our club/fans/players are better than yours and you are [not very good]". And that gets a bit repetitive after a while...

  • Comment number 34.

    Jacko has fast become a legend in many City fans' eyes. Not least my own, but there's personal reasons for that. I was delighted when he received the all clear so soon after his treatment had started, and I hope he can guide the imps out of this division for the first time in 11 years. A good article, and one that really shows Jacko's personality. Whether it's a case of bartering for floor tiles for his office or watching Eastern European fellas jogging around the training pitch with his missus on his back and tittering, he's a great man to have at the club.

  • Comment number 35.

    In answer to 'supermccall'. It does not matter how many goals Boulding scores. And the proof was in the last season!!!! Up the IMPS

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Re #36: An intelligent discussion with interesting contents, conducted in a respectful manner, but not mentioning Manchester United once, brought out such an insightful comment from you. Just because you do not understand the big words used, and can not come to grips with the spelling, you should not condemn this forum. In any case, 02:17am is way past your bedtime, drink your milk, brush your teeth, and off to bed you go.

  • Comment number 38.

    it's refreshing to see how football really works, rather than all the prima donnas who 'grace' the upper levels or 'premiership' either as players or managers
    well done peter jackson and the imps - you are a team worth supporting

  • Comment number 39.

    Another fascinating article, Fletch.

    I wasn't really aware of the amount of correspondence from potential players (as well as agents etc) mangers have to endure in these days of football without borders. I can imagine they're often doubled over with the weight of the post bag! It seems everyone wants a slice of the action in this country - and I take it it's not just because we happen to rich, but have an excellent standard of football in our leagues - and long may it continue!

    Fascinating story about the Romanian lad, hope he goes on to win a place in the side.

    Good luck to Mr Jackson (and Mr Patulea) for the season ahead - also great to hear Jacko has been given the all-clear.

    Great article all round Fletch.

  • Comment number 40.

    As a Leeds fan (but also Pickering Town) I have to say that we are certainly the Kevin Davies of blog replies - worst offenders but also most antagonised.

    It does annoy me when I see so many poorly phrased replies to anything Man Utd related saying something along the lines of "lolz u iz goin dwn scum" without realising that most Man U fans gave up caring about Leeds along time ago. But then I am amazed when a whole raft of Man U fans rally back to insult back. Madness.

    Anyway as a non-league fan also its nice to see that a lower division club gets such a good article with plenty of interesting insight - keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 41.

    It's not really clear from any of these fascinating articles, so just had to ask, did this bloke Patulea score a hat trick with his wife still on his back? Is this some kind of old Romanian custom or is Mrs. Petulea just a bit too apprehensive about those seductive Lincoln lasses?!

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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