It’s usually irritating going out of the FA Cup in the First Round not to mention the lost financial implications that come from being dumped out at the first attempt but this year I found myself a little grateful, if still far from happy at being eliminated while others prospered, of a weekend off from seeing the Cobblers come up on the receiving end of another beating.
The weekend off has fallen at the perfect time for us all to take a breather. The catastrophic run of 3-4 at Gillingham, 0-1 at Luton, 2-7 at home to Shrewsbury and 1-4 at Plymouth in November gave the Northampton branch of the Samaritans a busy time. They too will be happy that this Saturday gave the Cobblers supporting public of the town and those around the country a chance to sit back and watch the scores roll in safe in the knowledge that we couldn’t possibly lose!
It was the perfect time as well for new man Aidy Boothroyd who has had the chance to fully get to know his squad and vice versa. It’s a vital bedding in period for both parties and it can only help that we had a kind of mini ‘pre-season’ this weekend in preparation for what should be a start of a new era feel against Crewe on Saturday. The last two games have been dreadful on the eyes but if I’ve picked up anything from supporting the Cobblers then it’s that when the good times roll around again – and they will, eventually – they will taste that much sweeter.
Boothroyd has a hell of a job on his hands and while sorting out the ailing defence is the obvious starting point, the whole mentality of the team is also in major need of repair. Defending, as bad as it has been at the back, begins up with the strikers and the desire needs to be instilled in those further up the pitch to stop the initial balls that are causing the defence to be under so much pressure in the first place. A prime example from the highest level came yesterday when Scott Parker ran his little legs off to try and win a ball back which led to Gary Cahill’s dubious red card for Bolton. Parker, playing in a winning and confident team, even inspired the usually less mobile Emmanuel Adebayor to do exactly the same. When you see that sort of commitment from one, others tend to follow and if Mr Boothroyd can get that sort of hunger back in this Cobblers side then the fans will care a lot less about the quality being produced.
We desperately hope that it can all come together in a week’s time against Crewe but patience is vital and there’s no point in us throwing the toys out the pram again if we come up short from a tricky Christmas period. What will be more important to see is if there’s any change of attitude built up over a couple of weeks work that could at least inspire the hurt Cobblers faithful as we head into the New Year.
Keep The Faith!