Tales from the transfer market
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?).
The 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.