Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans today sensationally pulled out of an agreed deal to sign midfield ace Lee Frecklington from Rotherham United.
Frecklington, now 32, starred for Evans at Rotherham, and last night a deal was agreed to sign him at Mansfield, pipping Frecklington’s old club and promotion rivals Lincoln City for his services.
However, Evans dwelled on the deal overnight and, hearing nothing first thing today from the player, decided to go with his instincts and withdraw.
“Yesterday, in the space of a 60-second conversation between myself and the chairman at Rotherham, we’d agreed a fee to buy Lee Frecklington and been given permission to talk to his representatives, which we did,” said Evans.
“We went to bed last night wholly satisfied with that process. We were going to pick it up and perhaps move it forward today.
“But this morning when nine and then 10-o’clock came, we didn’t get the feeling it was right.
“We had a conference call between myself, the chairman and chief executive and I told them I didn’t think we should go forward in this process.
“When I explained my thoughts to them we all unanimously agreed.”
He continued: “Nothing changed overnight from a Mansfield Town point of view or a Rotherham United point of view.
“Maybe sometimes demands get put on you that as a manager you just think it breaks the line.
“As much as I had the support from the chairman and chief executive to say don’t let it break the line, I think they know me now.
“We couldn’t quite get it over the line – it was just starting to run away.
“I don’t get every decision right but I try to manage John Radford’s money as if it’s my money – I’m a Scotsman!
“It was just stacking up more and more for me in my head. Also Lee is a Lincoln boy and I know what he thinks of their club.
“When I first signed him he was phoning me every five minutes and wanting to be there that minute and I just got the feeling it wasn’t quite there this morning.
“When you get that feeling as a manager, the saying is ‘if in doubt, get out’.”
Evans then made a call to Rotherham to break the news to his former chairman.
“We told Rotherham we were going to withdraw from the process, which was received by Tony Stewart in the gentlemanly manner I expected from him,” said Evans.
“He understood completely and had empathy with us.
“We then messaged Lee’s representatives to say the offer we’d discussed was now withdrawn.
“If Lee stays at Rotherham then he’s a legend for all the right reasons. If he goes back to Lincoln, where he started and I first saw him, they’ve got a good player.
“He’s a terrific lad and he was brilliant for me. But we are not in the process any more – we are over and out.”
However, Evans remains in the hunt for fresh faces, though admits it’s now more likely to be after Saturday’s game at Cambridge.
“The chief executive and I burned the midnight oil last night on two or three other players,” he said.
“We have a clear idea where we want to go positionally and an even clearer idea where players are.
“Between the chairman and chief executive, they are trying to pull the business side together which leaves me to talk football.
“The focus has to be Cambridge on Saturday, so we’ll pick it up after the weekend. We will be signing players for sure.”
Could it happen for the Cambridge game? Evans said: “We have irons in the fire and we could have progressed maybe some of them to the extent they arrived here in the morning and we put our focus on that.
“Never say never, but the plan is not for players to be coming in tomorrow when we are focusing on the team and set plays and the shape for what will be a tough afternoon down at Cambridge.”
Evans said he remained on the trail of players at the top of his wanted lists.
“We are still at the top level,” he said. “When you’re offering money for players you’re still at the top level.
“But we are not alone – look at the business other clubs are trying to do. But our list has not changed and Frecklington was at the higher end of it.”