All across the football world, reaction is coming in on our massive double signing yesterday. Perhaps had it just been Harry we’d see a few comments of ‘useful signing for Lincoln’, or ‘he had a decent future at Posh, good move for the Imps’, but it is the additional capture of Bostwick that has set the chatter going.
When I say ‘football world’, I don’t mean the Scum newspaper or BBC website or anything like that, I mean those who comment on lower league football, those who make their living from being Football League experts. Those people are shocked at our swoop, and I’m told our odds have reduced again on being automatically promoted. How strange the arrival of one headline payer can cause odds to be slashed, when in truth we’re going to have to shuffle the pack around to even fit him in!
When I woke up this morning I have to admit I didn’t immediately think of Lincoln City, the fans or the hundreds of comments I’ve seen across social media. No, what I imagined was Steve Evans sat munching on his third bowl of Coco Pops, refreshing his web browser and suddenly spitting the a mix of chocolate, milk and his slather all over the computer screen. I imagined he called his wife through and demanded to know how come he hadn’t signed Bostwick. “but we had all tha money, aye?” he probably said, “and if tha boy wanted tae move close tae home we’re not tae far away.” Then he mops his computer screen using his Teddy Ruxpin bedtime T-shirt and sobs gently into his fourth, now replenished, bowl of chocolate milky death. Once I’d seen that image once in my head I sat down and replayed it again and again, each time increasing the ferocity of the initial expel of Coco Pops. It’s the sweetest thing I’ve seen all month.
I’m not using the single biggest double transfer swoop in our history as an immediate excuse to have a pop at Evans, but I’m underlining the shrewd policy of waiting patiently for the right opening to come along. Steve rushed into the toy shop as soon as it opened and threw all his money at the shop keep in a gluttonous rage, and he got some good players too. I can’t mock the quality of his signings, but you wouldn’t swap a single one of them for Bostwick.
Danny Cowley, he didn’t even go straight in the toy shop, because rather than being handed his money, he’d earned it in the FA Cup. He went for a jog around the block, probably glancing at his watch planning when to go in. No point in going straight in and bidding against Evans, no point in going in once the season has started and picking up the dregs. He waited, he jogged, and he watched. He made a couple of purchases, nothing rash, just the right ones that meant he still had some money left. Now, with money still in his pocket, that limited edition toy, the one that hadn’t been released when Evans spent all his money, the one only available only to the big kids, that has now fallen into his price bracket. He’s wandering down the street with a wonderful selection of toys, far better than the ones Steve has, isn’t he? Oh how comforting it is to imagine a Coco Pop soaked laptop screen and a red-faced ranting Evans this morning. Cracking. Go on, take a second to picture his rosy red face, Coco Pops dripping off his chin, the ruined laptop and the blind indignation that apparently having more money than everyone isn’t sufficient to buy the best players. You have to play the game Steve. The early bird might catch the worm, but the late worm avoids getting eaten by the bird.
There will be accusations of us having a massive budget, of buying up players that are beyond the reach of Carlisle etc, and to a degree that is true. Lincoln will have spent a six-figure sum yesterday, although I think we’d be wildly off the mark if we assumed it started with a ‘2’. It is no secret that Posh turned down a bid from Blackburn who were willing to pay around £250k for Bostwick, and Darragh McAnthony said we paid ‘considerably’ less than that. Charlton were linked with a swoop as were MK Dons and recently-relegated Rotherham United, all who had significantly bigger budgets than us. This move wasn’t about money for Michael, it was about location and family. How refreshing is it that we are finally benefitting from a player moving because of location?
Regarding Harry Anderson, despite tweets to the contrary I haven’t seen any indication he signed a new deal at Posh, and if that is the case his fee will be nominal. I wouldn’t imagine they cost us an eye-watering sum, even combined. Sure, one will have broken the transfer fee received, but it will always be one of those ambiguous deals where both cost us a combined fee, thus alleviating any individual pressure. We’ll never know anyway, most deals are undisclosed these days and whilst it might not please fans, it is sensible from a business point of view.
So if we had the means to secure the deal, why not use it? We haven’t thrown our money around like we’re starring in a rap video this summer, we haven’t spoken of having any real buying power. When players such as Jordan Williams looked to be costing more than their perceived value, Danny walked away. There’s no gross spending here, we’re just reaping some of the rewards from reaching last seasons FA Cup run. Did Carlisle get to the FA Cup Quarter Final? No. I pick Carlisle because of Keith Curle’s comments, he’s bound to be getting the ‘poor us’ rhetoric ready for our August clash at Sincil Bank. Okay so we’ve spent a bit of cash, but we earned it and in my eyes that is significantly different from throwing a rich owners money at your new toys.
Okay, moving on. The issue now is dropping all of these players into some form of starting eleven. It’s a wonderful problem to have though, is it not? Which one of four devastating wingers do we start with, and which pair do we bring on after an hour once the full-backs have been run ragged? Do we play Championship-quality Michael Bostwick in at centre half, or will he drop into right back? If he goes in at centre half, how do we possibly accommodate Raggett and Waterfall? Some have asked if Bostwick will be captain, I’d bet against that. Danny respects his players and he won’t remove that from Luke Waterfall after his stellar season at the back. If Raggs stays, which I’m informed is still likely, then he’ll partner Luke almost certainly. One thing Danny will want to do is keep the spine of the winning team together, so Farms, Waterfall, Raggs, Habergham, Woodyard, Arnold and possibly Rhead will already be photocopied on the team sheet, and he’ll just fill the rest in by hand.
I suspect well start against Wycombe with Farman (GK), Bostwick (RB) Raggett (CB), Waterfall (CB), Habergham (LB), Woodyard (CM), Knott (CM), Arnold (RW), Maguire-Drew (LW), Green (CF), Rhead (CF).
That leaves Ollie Palmer, Elliott Whitehouse, Josh Ginnelly, Harry Anderson, Callum Howe, Sean Long and Josh Vickers to complete the seven-man bench. The squad is still light, but if we could field that squad all season without injuries and suspensions (I know that won’t happen), then I think we’d be around the top five.
Where do we go from here in terms of recruitment? I’d imagine it is still going on fervently, and to that initial 17 you could add a couple of the youngsters who will almost certainly be given an EFL Trophy bench spot if nothing else. We saw at Lincoln United there are three or four who might make up the fringes of the first team squad. I suspect that leaves Danny wanting to bring in three more faces at most. He will be prioritising left back cover, and I hear Noah Chesmain could still be on the radar there. If he were to sign we’d be one centre forward away from a very impressive squad, and interest in Ade Azeez recently underlines that we’re not done in that department either. Don’t expect another marquee signing in that position though, after all there is no more room for marquees at Sincil Bank.
I wouldn’t be surprised at a young player released from a Championship club joining up front, or a reserve striker released from a League One side. The days are beginning to disappear as the start of the season looms, and a few players might be beginning to panic that they don’t have a club. Danny will be willing to ‘take a punt’ on a player, someone he sees with potential to add value, but not necessarily straight away. He’ll be happy to go with a Green / Palmer or Green / Rhead combo, but I expect he’s got the nagging question ‘what if Green gets injured’ at the back of his mind.
Last year Danny waited until last minute, Sean Raggett and Nathan Arnold fell into his lap, two players that were integral to our impossible season. This year he has done the same, lo and behold he’s done it again with Harry Anderson and Michael Bostwick coming to the club. It pays to wait, doesn’t it?