This summer Raheem Sterling will hopefully thrill England fans in Russia, maybe even firing us to a last eight place with his electric pace. This evening, Lincoln City have signed the player who taught him how to use his speed.
In an interview in 2015, Sterling told how he used to watch Andrade knock the ball past a defender and then ‘beep beep’, he was off like Road Runner. The Manchester City winger stopped the step-overs and tricks and did exactly what Andrade did. It’s taken him to Russia, but for his former team mate, it’s brought him to Lincoln, via Woking at Boreham Wood.
Let’s not underestimate the size of this signing, nor how once again it breaks down a Lincoln City taboo. When have we ever picked up the absolute cream of the crop from the fifth tier? Once upon a time we wanted George Boyd, Aaron Maclean and Craig Mackail-Smith from teams in the division below us, but we missed out. Last summer it was Ollie Hawkins we coveted and failed to get. This time, Danny’s got his man and he’s in on a two-year deal.
I can imagine the presser tomorrow. We’ll be told that Bruno is quick, versatile and has had a great two years at Boreham Wood, he was wanted by many clubs and he can be whatever he wants to be. He can too, he might have struggled since leaving QPR but at one point he played a Premier League game for them and he’s matured like a fine wine.
It was clear from his two matches against us in 2016/17 that the boy had ability, a confidence on the ball that comes from being schooled at a big club. He’s comfortable with it at his feet, not just quick but also effective in possession. He can set goals up and score them himself. If I were to liken him to someone who damaged us recently, I’d say he’s a Hiram Boateng figure. Okay, physically there’s a difference and Boateng might play a little deeper, but he is a game changer. If Andrade picks up our style, he’s a game changer too.
His finish on 18 minutes knocked the stuffing out of Fylde. I watched the whole game and Andrade was man of the match by a mile.
What I’ve liked about him whenever I’ve seen him is how down to earth he is. After beating Fylde in the National League play-offs, a match which he scored one and set up another, he was incredibly down to earth, praising the efforts of the whole team. It was his corner that enabled Jamie Turley to head his side into the lead and his own finish on 18 minutes which knocked the stuffing out of Fylde. I watched the whole game and Andrade was man of the match by a mile.
He can play wide, he can operate behind the striker or he can play up front. I would imagine Danny will be able to use him in all of the formations he’s trialled this season. In the lesser used 4-2-3-1 he’d play right or central in the attacking midfield three. In the 4-4-2 he would be a conventional wide man and in the 4-3-3 he’d play off a centre forward. My gut feeling is Danny likes the 4-3-3 and sees Andrade on the left and Green on the right of whoever our new striker is, say Tom Hopper.
Whatever the situation, this signing is huge and has come very early indeed. Andrade will have been coveted by lot of clubs and if we hadn’t got a training ground being built, we would have been a tougher sell. He will know about the Cowleys though, their reputation within the game is growing by the hour and Tom Champion would have doubtless told him of their methods, even though the move didn’t work out for him. It is the infrastructure that also excites players though. They can see where we’re going, how we’ve retained the squad from last season and players know that can only mean more of the same. Lincoln City will be fighting in the top seven again next season, make no mistake at all about that.
I would proclaim this the marquee signing of the summer, but I feel we’re in for an exhilarating and frantic pre-season and as good as Andrade is, I believe we’ve a few more rabbits waiting to be pulled from Danny’s hat. However, Andrade is 24-years old and bang on form right now. He’s ‘proven’ as many people wanted, he got 26 goals in all competitions last season, just what people wanted. He’s ticked all the boxes without us even getting out of May. There’s much more to come this summer, I can feel it in my bones, but few will excite me as much as this guy. I sang his praises a year ago, I desperately wanted to see him come in January but when I saw he’d been off training with Portsmouth I thought the game was up. In my mind, he’s League One quality which I firmly believe is where we’ll be in twelve months time, especially if the summer recruitment lives up to this opening signing.
Bruno Andrade at Lincoln City. Who would have predicted that (along with Rowe and Frecklington)?