When Danny once said ‘I’ll only bring players in who improve the group’, I laughed a little. I thought it was a nice soundbite, but eventually he was going to have to sign cover players.
Okay, James Brown is a cover player so it isn’t entirely the strategy of the manager, but the last 24 hours have provided us with more proof that in the main, Danny is right. Let’s start with the first of our new faces, Jordan Roberts who joins on loan from Ipswich.
I’m assuming to some degree that Danny Rowe, for now, replaces Matt Green. That means that Roberts is a replacement for Mensah, given that Kellan Gordon came in as a right back. If that is the case, we’ve swapped a League One reserve player for someone who, at the start of the season, was a Championship regular.
Before we look too deep at Jordan Roberts, let that sink in. Ipswich Town and Paul Hurst believed at the start of this season that Jordan Roberts could compete regularly in the six or seventh most competitive league in Europe. He’s now at Lincoln City and not even guaranteed a start, such is the depth of our squad.
Roberts started six matches for Ipswich, making 12 Championship appearances in total. The feeling from their fan base is perhaps he was out of his depth, but that at League Two level he’s a big player. Crawley fans certainly rate him, they would have loved to have him back. Plymouth fans are pretty hacked off too, because up until a few days ago he was nailed on to go there and boost their survival hopes in League One.
We’ve also allegedly beaten MK Dons and Bradford City to his signature. Let that sink in again Lincoln City have beaten two League One clubs and MK Dons who are probably considered a ‘bigger’ club than us. Roberts chose us. Whatever happens between now and then end of the season, it is going to be very important to remember that.
He’s primarily a left winger, but he can operate as a striker too. It’s an interesting swoop because he gives us a couple of options up front. I listened to the NTT20 Podcast with former Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke earlier and he spoke of having flexibility as one of his great assets when they won promotion a couple of years ago. well, Roberts gives us just that.
Danny gets his man: There’s all manner of factors as to why a player doesn’t sign straight away, so to finally see this one over the line will delight the manager.
Then we were hit with the new Mark O’Hara had joined from Peterborough. It had been suggested by Darragh MacAnthony that the deal was finished last week, but O’Hara attended the game on Saturday and has been around the lads for a day or two and has finally been convinced to come here. There’s an undertone to this move I feel, Danny didn’t say as much but it sounds like O’Hara regrets the move to Posh in the summer and needed time to be convinced Lincoln was the right place for him. There’s all manner of factors as to why a player doesn’t sign straight away, so to finally see this one over the line will delight the manager.
O’Hara’s capture is really interesting because he’s a box to box midfielder just like O’Connor and Frecklington. There’s young Ellis in there too, we’ve got Tom Pett been playing that role and Bozzy has been touted as shifting up the field too. Where on earth is Danny going to fit these players in? we’re a squad of 20 now, according to the manager, but that’s probably 20 who could seriously start for any other League Two side, certainly any outside the top three or four.
What also interests me about O’Hara is his interview, or specifically the first few words he says during it. You can watch it on the OS here, but he cites the atmosphere against Grimsby as significant in getting him to Sincil Bank. that’s a great sound bite and has obviously been seized upon by the club, but it was another thing he said that made me smile: ‘I’ve had many conversations with the gaffer and Jez‘…. Now I’ve heard a lot of negativity from Cambridge fans about Jez George, but under no circumstances underestimate how important he has been in the last couple of weeks.
Michael Hortin tweeted that this is the strongest squad he’s seen at Lincoln City since he started covering them. I can’t help but agree, but we say it every window. Every time Danny promises improvement, we get it. These players have to perform, there’s little doubt about that and of the new arrivals one or two will surely disappoint, just as one or two have in every window. That’s not the point though.
In terms of giving us the very best chance to finish in the top three, something that is surely the only aim of the season, our recruitment has been terrific and give or take the odd incoming player as cover between now and next Thursday at this time, all the rest of the work is to be done behind closed doors.