WITH nearly 37 years in the game, you sense it takes a lot to get Lee Turnbull flustered.

The 53-year-old has pretty much seen it all as a player, coach, manager, head of community, working in non-league and his long experience in recruitment.

So, overseeing City’s most full-on transfer window any fan can remember was nothing Turnbull felt he couldn’t handle.

“You get every emotion through the January window and ultimately you’ve got to stay calm and focused,” he told the T&A.

“We’ve all done signings five minutes before the deadline shuts and equally you’ve had a list of three or four strong targets that go west. That’s always difficult.

“It’s having that experience in your armoury and to revert back to. If we don’t get our number one target, what are our options?

“It’s about having a tried and trusted process so you don’t make too many glaring mistakes.

“There’s the good, the bad and the ugly in football and sometimes you do sign a player who you think is the answer and it doesn’t work out.

“But if you get four out of six right, you’re going in the right direction.”

Turnbull’s arrival at Valley Parade, initially when Stuart McCall was still in the hot-seat, has proved arguably as influential as any of the nine January signings.

If you get four out of six right, you’re going in the right direction

Those meetings throughout December with Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars and chief executive Ryan Sparks prepared the groundwork for a rush of recruits that has transformed the mood.

“At the start of the window, I think it was pretty obvious that we needed to improve the size and quality of the squad and by the end of it, we all sat down and evaluated what we had done and were on the same page.

“I think it was a positive month for the club moving forward.

“We’d probably discussed around 30 players in depth. I normally like to have three for each position.

“But before you go into the window, you need to do a gaps analysis and target the positions you feel are appropriate for strengthening the squad.

“For example, look at the right back position where Finn Cousin-Dawson has been playing.

“We had options to fill that if he was injured, Bryce Hosannah’s coming back, Levi Sutton can play there and Anthony O’Connor.

“So clearly you identify areas of the pitch you can cover internally.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lee Turnbull likes to identify three targets for each positionLee Turnbull likes to identify three targets for each position

“For me, from the outside looking in, I think there was a lack of pace and maybe a lack of goals.

“Plans were in place to try and bring in two or three strikers.

“We did that bringing in what I’d call a proper number nine in Andy Cook, an out-and-out goalscorer in Danny Rowe and then a young, quick powerful striker in Rumarn Burrell.

“That was down to hours of phone calls, research and due diligence.”

Strikers are always the toughest market to crack – even more so in the condensed mid-season window.

“Any time of the year, signing goalscorers is gold dust at whatever level you’re working at,” said Turnbull. “You’re trying to find the best fit for the club.

“I watched Danny and Andy Cook for a number of years and Rumarn four or five times at Middlesbrough.

“You get a feel about players, a gut feeling that hopefully if you say the right things the player understands where you are at.

“Again, the salary cap causes another problem. Ryan and (club secretary) Mark Harrison were extremely vigilant in their approach to what we could and couldn’t spend.”

Everyone in the building is a recruiter – even the ladies that do the catering.

Turnbull reckons seven of City’s nine signings were on the initial target list. But they had eyes and ears open for others popping up.

“Will Huffer was probably one of those. I think one of the media guys mentioned it.

“But I’ve known Will since he was eight because my lad was at Leeds academy with him.

“Everyone in the building is a recruiter – even the ladies that do the catering.

“We all watch football and have opinions and are all told by the postman who’s the best centre forward in the league.

“It’s just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s bit which is usually the most difficult.

“But when we look back on the target list, there was a clear corelation with the players that were signed.

“It’s pleasing because I really dislike blind recruitment – recruitment through agents or somebody sending you a dodgy clip on Youtube.

“It becomes knee-jerk, whereas I think we had a strong and robust process that took us through the window and we clearly hit our targets.

“A lot of work was done with our analysts who have done a terrific job. Mark and Conor have spent hours and hours watching players.

“It’s almost a scenario of, ‘I’ll flick ‘em up lads, you volley them in’ because they are the ones who’ve got to work with the players.

“I’ve always been keen on having that relationship with the management to make sure we are on the same page.”

Turnbull is keen to stress the team ethic behind City’s transfer business – and the contribution from Trueman and Sellars in bringing in those identified as the right characters.

He said: “They are young guys at the very start of their hopefully-successful career in football management. It’s a tough old game.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Conor Sellars and Mark Trueman spent "hours and hours" watching players for the transfer windowConor Sellars and Mark Trueman spent "hours and hours" watching players for the transfer window

“The way they’ve approached it has been very professional and they’ve had a really good input in the recruitment.

“It’s very much a team effort. I think we have a good understanding of each other.”

Rubberstamping League Two survival was the only goal when the interim duo were promoted. But with results quickly picking up, a significant amount of longer-term thinking also went into their window-shopping.

“Moving forward, we were particularly keen to plan for maybe some elements of next season with the permanent signings,” added Turnbull.

“Once you’ve got them in for three or four months hopefully with Mark and Conor, you’re not having a total rebuild.

“I’ve been through that a few times at clubs and it takes time. That’s one commodity you don’t have in football because the pressures are enormous – whether that’s from supporters, owners, everywhere.

“It’s a lot better to go into a pre-season in my opinion having 15 of your 22-man squad already in place.”

As it stands, 11 of their present squad will still be under contract in the summer – including recent signings Rowe, Charles Vernam, Niall Canavan and Ollie Crankshaw.

“It was important to secure them on permanent deals because they are key areas of the pitch. Danny and Niall fall into that experienced bracket while Charles and Ollie are in the progressive one.

“I’ve always got one eye on player trading. We know where we want to get to, but equally we want players to come to this club and be successful for their own careers.

“It’s very difficult to be self-sufficient in football but equally you should also look at your player trading model.

“Purchasing players as we have done for relatively low fees and moving them on hopefully for 10 or 20 times that value in the future is a benefit to everyone.”