Massive boost for Mansfield Town as John-Joe O’Toole agrees to sign new long term deal

Mansfield Town were given a huge boost today when John-Joe O'Toole turned down more lucrative offers from bigger clubs to sign a long term deal with the Stags.

John-Joe O'Toole in action against Walsall on Saturday. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger
John-Joe O'Toole in action against Walsall on Saturday. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

The 33-year-old has been a revelation at centre half and in midfield since coming in as a free agent on a short term deal in late October which had alerted clubs from higher up.

But, against all the odds, he today signed a contract for up to two and a half years at Mansfield and boss Nigel Clough said: “We are very, very pleased we've got it sorted eventually.

“It's taken a little bit of time and everyone will be delighted. It's brilliant news for Stags fans.

“It's been a bit more protracted than we'd hoped.

“We did our best to convince him playing-wise and on the pitch, but Mr and Mrs Radford have worked extremely hard on this along with David Sharpe and we have eventually got it over the line.

“It was a boost when he came and now he's committed longer term it will be an even bigger boost.

“It's good news for everybody. In the midst of the run that we're having, to get him sorted and established on a permanent is very important.”

At 33 with two children, few would have been surprised if O'Toole had taken the money with a club from a higher division, with Doncaster Rovers certainly in the running.

However, Clough said: “John-Joe has signed here for footballing reasons – he thinks we've got a chance and the rest of the squad are feeling the same.

“He feels we've got a good squad and we're in a good position.

“Since he's come into the club we've had a great run and he's been a part of that. And I think players sense when there's a good dressing room and a good vibe about the place as well as potential to have success.

“It is not a financial decision for him. I think when you're coming to the end of your career it speaks volumes that you don't take the highest offer on the table.

“I think he recognises we've got a good thing going here. He wants to be part of it and we want him to be a part of it.

“I am sure the players will be pleased too - though I suppose some might not be if you are a centre half or midfielder vying for a place.”

Clough had previously worked with O'Toole at Burton where he feels the player let his fitness slip. But the manager said he now looked in great shape.

“He has been an important one for us,” said Clough.

“He's been available since the summer but it was only through the injuries and suspensions we got him in.

“We did know him from working with him for 18 months at Burton.

“But he is in good shape – he's in better shape than he was then.

“I think that spell of being out of work and not having a club has probably given him the kick up the backside he needed to say I need to get in good shape here. And he's probably in the best shape he's been in for a few seasons.

“The interest in him is just down to how well he's done. He's been available since the summer and all these clubs, including ourselves, had the opportunity to take him.

“We didn't have the room. But he has excelled in his performances since he came in.

“He has been a pivotal part of it. Other players straight away recognised his abilities and wanted him around in our team and our squad.”

Clough added: “We have a nice balance in the 20-21 players we'll have in our first team squad by the end of this window – and seven or eight will be 30 or over. That's not too many.

“One thing you need in this league is experience and all the teams hat are up there having success at the moment have their fair share of experience throughout the team.”

Despite the uncertainty over his future, O'Toole has continued to battle it out in a Stags shirt as they put together a superb winning run to reach the play-off spots.

“While this has been going on, quite a few players would have said I could risk injury if I am going somewhere else,” said Clough.

“But John-Joe has been totally committed in the last few games even when his future with us has not been certain.”