League Two Season Preview 2011/12: Northampton Town

The third day of the combined League Two Season Preview brought to you by @maxihobbs, @greenwichgull and myself brings you six more teams, one of which is the Cobblers!  I apologise for any harm this preview does to our season in terms of a kiss of death prediction.

More links to our other previews can be found at the foot of the page.

Recap of last season

Frustrating, disappointing and, finally, tense. After beating Liverpool at Anfield in the Carling Cup on penalties the Cobblers thought that a poor start to the league season would be over but a run of six defeats in October had them in real trouble. A brief resurgence through November and December was halted by six draws on the bounce in early 2010 and cost Ian Sampson his job. Gary Johnson came in and couldn’t stop the rot, with Town falling towards the drop zone. His first win in charge didn’t come until the penultimate game of the season but when it did arrive it sealed their Football League status.

Personnel in

The return of big Bayo Akinfenwa is the big news from Sixfields this summer after the iconic front man re-signed for Town after just one year at Gillingham.

Arron Davies is a shrewd signing for the Cobblers at this level as he follows Gary Johnson from Peterborough to Sixfields. The midfielder has creativity in abundance and could be the creative spark for the front me.

Paul Turnbull should provide some much needed steel to midfield after deciding to leave Stockport County following their relegation to the Conference.

Byron Webster (Doncaster, free)

Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi (Peterborough, free)

Jake Robinson (Shrewsbury, free)

Ben Tozer (Newcastle, free)

Freddy Hall (Unattached)

Nick McKoy (Unattached)

Lewis Young (Burton, free)

Sam Walker (Chelsea, loan)

Ashley Corker (Unattached)

Marin Pozgain (Unattached)

Lumbardh Salihu (Unattached)

Personnel out

Leon McKenzie left the club despite an excellent goals to games ratio last season. Ultimately his fitness wasn’t up to playing week in week out and Gary Johnson decided not to renew the striker’s contract.

Abdul Osman (released)

Paul Rodgers (released)

Courtney Herbert (released)

Alex Konstantinou (released)

Marcus Hall (released)

Seb Harris (released)

Francis Laurent (released)

Dean Beckwith (released)

Strengths

The Cobblers converted a goal in every 6.5 shots last season but they will and will be hoping for more of the same from a new strike force that include Akinfenwa, Jake Robinson and Shaun Harrad.

Weaknesses

Despite the above stat, Town also recorded the fourth fewest shots per game last season with an average of nine. Nobody in the division took fewer points from matches in which they scored first than the Cobblers.

A shaky defence in pre-season has also led to one or two early nerves from Cobblers fans.

Key man

Adebayo Akinfenwa – The big man returned to Sixfields this summer after a year with Gilligham and could be key to any success. A mammoth of a striker, his sheer presence is unnerving for the sternest of defences and his goal scoring record at this level should end any doubts about another relegation dog fight.

One to watch

Michael Jacobs – The youngster burst onto the scene in the pre-season of 2010 and went on to become last season’s Player of the Year in his first fulll campaign. A tricky left winger, Jacobs has attracted the attention of teams from higher divisions and will be tough to keep hold of.

Outlook

There’s real anticipation around Sixfields about the coming season with some impressive summer signings that have included Akinfenwa, Jake Robinson and former Forest man Arron Davies. They will surely not be dragged into a second successive relegation battle and should be looking at a place in the top seven come next May.

Predictions Ben: Like Bradford, perhaps too many personnel changes to hit the ground running – a strong finish falling just short of the playoffs.
Danny: Playoffs have to be the aim for the Cobblers.
Maxi: A definite improvement on last seasons shambles but not enough for the top 7.

Other League Two Previews (so far)

AFC Wimbledon: http://bit.ly/nNEGfl

Accrington Stanley: http://bit.ly/rex3dt

Aldershot Town: http://bit.ly/pRYATg

Barnet: http://bit.ly/pROnxq

Bradford City: http://bit.ly/mSLoFU

Bristol Rovers: http://bit.ly/ncn3LD

Burton Albion: http://bit.ly/rknJOQ

Cheltenham Town: http://bit.ly/ng6urV

Crawley Town: http://bit.ly/nJyS0B

Crewe Alexandra: http://bit.ly/pyTBTE

Dagenham and Redbridge: http://bit.ly/nMv5Un

Hereford United: http://bit.ly/nCxyFI

Gillingham: http://bit.ly/qfrw7v

Macclesfield Town: http://bit.ly/nX1xrp

Morecambe: http://bit.ly/plqkeF

Northampton Town: http://bit.ly/nlehBF

Plymouth Argyle: http://bit.ly/nGEZCY

Rotherham United: http://bit.ly/ovben9


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