Lee Angol divided opinion whilst he was here. Some, like me, saw a hard-working and energetic centre forward with potential for better things. Others saw a forward full of aimless running and an inability to win headers.
Steve Evans saw a player he fancied, Angol’s agent saw an opportunity and off he went. With January rapidly approaching, what price would you get on Lee Angol coming back to Lincoln City on loan?
Okay, calm down I know I’m speculating. I can add gravity to the theory though. First of all, the rumour is Angol wasn’t entirely sold on going to Mansfield anyway. Remember the last game of the season, Danny’s post match interview? He said Lee Angol’s injury would be ‘monitored over the summer’. Days later Angol is pictured thoroughly enjoying himself on our parade around the city. If you’d asked me to say which players out of Anderson, Ginnelly, Knott and Angol were coming back, I’d have plumped for Angol every time. I think that picture is the last one I’ve seen Angol smile in.
Peterborough put a statement out shortly after saying he wanted to play for a ‘bigger club’ than Lincoln. As I recall, Angol denied it on Twitter although I can’t find that tweet today. Days later he signed for Mansfield. Cue indignation, a little bit of anger and a whole load of ‘he wasn’t any good anyway’. Instead we got Matt Green in to take the barracking from numbskull fans when we didn’t score ten goals a match.
Caroyln Radford was delighted. She’s the Chief Executive or something over at Field Mill. “Full credit must be given to manager Steve Evans who has, over the last number of days, been able to convince young Lee that his future should be with us at Mansfield Town Football Club,” she said with a smile plastered in deep red lipstick. “Both the chairman and myself have taken the opinion of many good judges in football which is clear that they see Lee as a player who should be playing in the Championship within the next two years and hopefully we can give him the platform to achieve that with our club.”
Now, I’m not sure that last sentence make sense but I’ve translated it ad verbatim so please don’t blame me if it is nothing more than gibberish.
Steve Evans was equally as happy with himself. He said: “Today we have signed another talented young player. I will not speak about what he will do as his abilities will shine through when he takes to the grass in a Stags’ shirt.”
What it seemed had happened was our arrangement with Peterborough had a caveat in that if someone else put in a higher bid, we had to match it. Danny is all about value for money, he won’t pay over the odds and he stands by that to this day. He spends Lincoln City’s money as if it were Danny Cowley’s own money and that has to be admired.
This is conjecture now, but it does seem that Mansfield’s method of convincing Lee his future lay at Field Mill was to pile some notes in front of him and keep winking suggestively until his agent couldn’t contain himself. In a few short days Angol had gone from nailed on Imp to pantomime villain.
The future happened, after we signed Matt Green the two came head to head in a clash between Steve Evans’ cast-off and protégé. It was a battle between two good strikers that somehow once again became all about the angry Scot and neither player triumphed. Prior to the game in-form Angol had scored four in seven. Since then he has appeared eight times for Mansfield starting three although two were in the Checkatrade Trophy. Contrast that with Matt Green who has played 15 games for us. Our player went through a bad patch and we stuck by him, we didn’t just cast him aside and loan in Kane Hemmings. Okay, we might not have had other options up front, but I don’t believe Danny would ever treat a player in the way Evans has treated Angol.
On October 17th, Evans rather laughably referred to his reserve players as ‘the Magnificent Seven’ claiming Angol was far too good for the reserves. Since then he’s played two minutes of League football. Perhaps Evans shares the same understanding of the word ‘magnificent’ as Peter Jackson did?
Is Lee Angol happy at Mansfield? He was apparently convinced by Evans that his future was best spent in the yellow of the Stags, but recently he’s spent more time in a tracksuit top warming the bench. I’ve scoured the Mansfield Chad newspaper for quotes from Angol praising his manager, I’ve found nothing. I haven’t seen a smile on his face in photographs and Evans just doesn’t seem to fancy him. He’s started tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy game but was taken off after 66 minutes. When you’ve only got two minutes of League action under your belt and your team has reached the FA Cup third round, I doubt an hour of a Football League Trophy match against Blackpool is going to keep you happy. I’d wager he’d probably rather play a reserve game in the afternoon, at least that way he could watch the Champions League matches.
Lee Angol is a really good footballer, he’s a young man with an awful lot of potential who (I believe) has made a bad career choice. I wonder if he feels the same? We know Evans likes to shift players around, he’ll be wanting to dip into that big ‘ol bag of money his chairman has in January and I suspect Angol will be pushed even further down the pecking order. If you’re 23 and wanting to progress in football, you do not do it by kicking around the reserves.
Danny and Nicky know Lee, they’ll know he didn’t snub us as much as the media or internet chatter make out. If Steve is looking to reduce the wage bill in order to immediately expand it excessively, would he be willing to let Angol go? We know Danny has no problem going back over old ground if he trusts a player, look at (in no particular order), Harry Anderson, Josh Vickers, Alex Woodyard, Sam Habergham, Sean Long, Billy Knott, Jonny Margetts….. you get the picture. Our recruitment model is based very much on type of person as much as type of player and maybe, just maybe the respect that Lee Angol has for Danny and Nicky could see him moving thirty odd miles east for the spring.
We need striking options, Lee Angol needs a bit of loving and encouragement and Steve Evans needs to fulfil a burning desire to rotate players more often than I rotate socks. To me, it seems a good fit all round.