FEATURE: Curle's ambition sealed the Cobblers deal for new signing Lines
Chris Lines says it was the ‘philosophy’ and ‘ambition’ of boss Keith Curle that persuaded him to commit the next two years of his career to the Cobblers cause.
The 33-year-old was not short of offers once it was announced he was being released by Sky Bet League One outfit Bristol Rovers at the end of the season.
But there was only ever going to be one destination for the central midfielder, as he had made his mind up he was heading for the PTS Academy Stadium following a series of face-to-face meetings with Curle.
Indeed, Lines had been close to a move to the Cobblers in the January transfer window, only for an injury to scupper that loan switch, but he is now looking forward to starting the next chapter of his footballing career.
And he is excited at the prospect of playing under Curle.
Asked about what impressed him about the Cobblers boss, Lines said: “It was his football philosophy that impressed me.
“He is from Bristol as well as me, so I have obviously known about his history with Bristol Rovers and stuff.
“But it is really just his passion about trying to win games, which to me is the most important thing in football - it doesn’t matter how you play.
“If you go out and play well and lose, then everybody goes home unhappy.
“If we can fit playing well and winning games together then obviously you have got everything mixed in, and that would be great.
“But it was just the way he spoke about wanting to move this club forward, and you have to be ambitious.
“There is no point in cruising along in football, and trying to be successful is something I have always thrived on.
“It is all about getting promotions, and I have been lucky enough to win four and if I can get another one here that would be great.”
Looking back on the move that didn’t materialise in January, Lines added: “It was difficult in January, because it was a loan move and it just didn’t go through in the end due to various things.
“That might not be a bad thing in the end, because it has all worked out with this now.
“I am glad to finally get it all sorted now though, and I can go off and enjoy the summer and then make sure I come back fit and healthy for pre-season.”
The Cobblers players will be reporting back at the end of next month, and it is set to be a new-look squad that will convene ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
Lines is one of four new signings to have been confirmed, along with Matty Warburton, Joe Martin and Harry Smith.
Curle spoke of Lines as being a ‘cultured midfielder’, and he is certainly very well regarded at the Memorial Stadium, where he spent two spells and won promotion on three separate occasions.
So what sort of player can the Cobblers fans expect to see when he dons the claret and white next season?
“I like getting on the ball and playing really, which is something the gaffer has spoken about,” said Lines, who was part of the Rovers team that won 6-0 at the PTS two seasons ago.
“Eventually he wants to be playing out from the back, getting the midfield on the ball and creating chances, and hopefully I can fit into that perfectly.
“I like to get on the ball and play, I like to drive forward with the ball from midfield, which is also something that is going to help, and I have always played a big part in set-pieces as well.
“Hopefully my delivery can create some chances, get some assists, and I just want to add creativity from midfield.
“If you get that, and help with the assists, then the strikers will be happy as well.”
Lines has enjoyed a successful career, and as well as playing for Rovers, he also enjoyed spells with Sheffield Wednesday, where he played in the Championship, and with Port Vale, where he played under former Cobblers boss Rob Page.
It means he has spent the majority of his career playing at league one level, although back in 2014 he did take the bold step of dropping down to the National League to try to help Rovers return to the Football League at the first attempt following their shock relegation the season before.
That paid dividends as the Gas did go up, and then the following season they were promoted again, finishing third as the Cobblers ran away with the Sky Bet League Two title.
So after all that hard work to get back up to league one, was it a tough decision to join the Cobblers and drop back down to the fourth tier of English football again?
“No, not really because I have been there before,” he said.
“I have probably spent 80 per cent of my career in league one, but league two is a league I have played in before, and had success in.
“We had a very successful season when both Rovers and Northampton went up, so it is a league I know, and a league I know I can do well in.
“I didn’t play as many games as I wanted to at Bristol Rovers last season for various reasons, so if it means dropping down and then going back up again, well I have done it once so let’s do it again.”