Northampton fan Ben Trasler gives us the lowdown on Saturday’s visitors, who are currently sat in the play off spots following a good start to the season.
It’s been a decent start for you and you seem to have kicked on from your runaway success last year. How far can you go and is promotion a possibility?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the start we have made as I thought the post-Chris Wilder era was going to be a tough one especially as we also lost our best player Ricky Holmes to Charlton during the summer.
However, Wilder’s replacement Rob Page has made some shrewd and experienced additions in the early stages of his tenure which have bared fruit early on. That said, I think we’ve had a favourable opening set of games which is backed up by the fact we have played pretty much all of the teams in the bottom 8 so far.
We have a tough run of fixtures coming up, beginning at Scunny, where I think you’ll begin to start seeing us fall down the table. Anything around mid table for us would be a great achievement this season given the off field turmoil the club was in as recently as the end of 2015.
How well do you feel you strengthened in the summer?
All in all, really well. Well established names such as Zakuani, Taylor, Revell, Nyatanga, Anderson and Beautyman joined to give us extra depth in key areas whilst we also appeared to have uncovered a gem in Jak McCourt, a young, aggressive central midfielder from Barnsley.
I think if we were being greedy we’d have liked another centre forward in as a different option to Revell/Richards or a like for like replacement for the maverick Holmes but sadly it wasn’t to be (although the club did agree terms with Dean Cox from Leyton Orient on transfer deadline day only for him to fail to agree an acceptable termination package with the Londoners).
Rob Page has come in and from the outside seems to be doing a good job. He was thought to have done a decent job at Port Vale with limited funds. How is he doing in your opinion?
Despite a run of positive results and an elevated league standing, I don’t think Page has quite won over every Cobblers supporter just yet. I personally think he’s done a sterling job so far to build on the momentum of the previous management team whilst creating his own style and winning ethos.
However, there was always going to be the danger that he would always be ‘following the Lord Mayors show’ no matter how he fared after Wilder’s unparalleled success. There has been a few grumblings at team selections, substitutions and even a couple of the signings (the effectiveness of Beautyman and young loanee from Swansea Kenji Gorre two to mention) being called into question. I hope he proves the doubters wrong though – from what I’ve seen, I’m very happy that our owner (Kelvin Thomas) saw Page fit to take us forwards.
Matty Taylor seems to be rolling back the years and chipping in with a few goals. Aside from him, who should we look out for in the Cobblers side?
Taylor has started very well but John-Joe O’Toole remains as the current Cobblers cult hero and all-round midfield general. He chips in with plenty of goals and also has a steely side to his game which saw him be the first player in England to accumulate 5 bookings this season (in just 7 games). O’Toole didn’t have the greatest starts to his Cobblers career and was actually shipped out on loan to get game time before returning a new man who we have all fell in love with during last year’s title winning season.
I would also recommend looking out for our goalkeeper Adam Smith. Despite his recent howlers in the televised EFL Cup game against Manchester United, he really is a superb goalkeeper. The best I’ve seen in my 20-odd years of following the club.
Are there any weaknesses we could exploit?
It’s hard to put a finger on an obvious weakness but we have noted the odd flaw or two in our game plans so far this season. Last week, we were defeated 3-2 at home to Bristol Rovers and they completely overran us in the middle of the park in the later stages with younger, more mobile legs than that of O’Toole (28) and Taylor (34). That may be your in, especially if the previously mentioned McCourt doesn’t start the game.
Kelvin Thomas came in to rescue you last term following all sorts of off field issues, paying off a hefty tax bill. How pleasing is that stability following a difficult period and was there any danger you may end up in a similar situation to Charlton & Blackpool?
Pleasing isn’t the word – we are still f*cking ecstatic at being rid of that clown David Cardoza and into the safe hands of Kelvin Thomas. We were in real danger of going under at stages of last season and actually survived a liquidation hearing that was genuinely touch and go. The fact that we still have a club to support on a weekly basis means so much after what was an awful few weeks to be involved with the club.
Bad news was being reported by our local press every single day and supporters had actually started to plan for a Phoenix club in the event things did go south. Thankfully, we survived and we can only look at events going on at Charlton, Coventry and so with the upmost sympathy.
There should be more that the EFL can do to stop football clubs, which should be viewed as valuable community assets, falling into the hands of scumbags (for want of a better word!) as was our case!
Where will Saturday be won or lost and have you got a score prediction?
If we can stifle the likes of Morris and counter well (as we did in our last away game – a 3-1 win at Swindon), we might have half a chance. However, Zakuani is away on international duty with DR Congo and a big miss for us so that may be easier than it sounds on paper.
Sadly, there doesn’t look to be any stopping of you at the moment which is why I’ll be predicting a 2-1 win for you, Alex Revell scoring our consolation.