Mansfield Town boss John Dempster believes prolific Andy Cook will be a ‘key signing’ for the Stags this season.
Dempster fought off interest from other clubs in League One and Two to pay Walsall an undisclosed fee that Chad believes equals the club’s £150,000 record.
“He is a key signing for us. There was a lot of interest from other clubs, but once I spoke to him personally I got a deep sense that he wanted to come here,” said Dempster.
“He was aware of our squad and current owners.
“It was just a question of the agent and Carolyn (Radford CEO) sitting down and getting the deal done. Fortunately for us that was the case.”
Dempster continued: “He brings goals. Of the target men we highlighted, not all of them had great numbers.
“They had a good record for bringing people into play and assists.
“But some of them did lack goals and you were looking to start going higher up into the divisions if you wanted to bring a player of that quality in.
“Andy is one who brings goals. You can hit him into feet and he can hold defenders off and bring our attacking players into play.
“He is somebody who can set the ball and play it wide if you’re playing with wingers or wing backs, and if you can get crosses into the box, not only can he head the ball into the back of the net but you can also use him for knock-downs and players arriving late into the box to score goals.”
Dempster was given the green light to secure Cook by chairman John Radford and CEO Carolyn Radford at a meeting in Portugal last week as they backed up their promise to give the new manager what he felt he needed for success.
“We spoke about targets in Portugal and, as you saw, they backed me straight away with Andy Cook,” he said.
“They reiterated their support for me and how much they believe in the current squad.
“Of course they were disappointed how last season ended up.
“The chairman is the driving force behind this football club.
“He saved it many, many years ago from disaster and if you look at how this club has come on over the years it’s been incredible and that’s why we all want to be part of it.
“When I put my list of players I wanted to the chairman he took a deep interest and asked lots of questions.
“He likes stats and how players have done in previous years, and it was a really positive chat with them.”
Some Walsall fans, disgruntled to lose Cook, believe he could end up top scorer in League Two next season.
“I hope they are right – that goes without saying,” smiled Dempster.
“His numbers last season were brilliant and in previous seasons he has scored goals too. But he will bring more to the table than that.
“He will bring people into play, he will be a real pain for centre backs at League Two level. If he can bring those goals to the table as well I will be a happy man.” So does bringing in a target man like Cook mean Dempster is considering going with wingers next season?
“I would like to have that option,” he said.
“I think wing backs worked really well at times last season, but I’d like that flexibility to play with wingers at different times as well, depending on our position and different factors. It would be a great option to have.”