As 2011 comes to a close we’re still looking for that first win under Aidy Boothroyd. Following the 3-2 reverse at home to Burton Albion on Boxing Day there’s just one more chance to pick up the illusive three points with a visit from Swindon Town on Saturday. While we look back on a tumultuous calendar year we should also look forward to 2012 with an undercurrent of optimism beneath a cloud of uncertainty.
2011 has seen the Cobblers go through six management teams, pick up just nine league victories from forty eight games and face the possibility of going into the New Year in the relegation zone or even bottom of the entire Football League. We’ve also conceded the most goals of any of the top four divisions in the country after the Boxing Day defeat against Burton who repeated the score line from last season’s encounter between the sides that ended with Ian Sampson being shown the door.
So we have a situation now where the only way it could possibly get worse is if we drop through the relegation trap door come May. The job is massive for Aidy Boothroyd and the upcoming month and transfer window is one of the most important periods in the club’s history. Boothroyd has already made a mark with four departures and one new signing in the last couple of weeks and rumour has it that he already has three or four solid targets in mind for the mid-season window.
One of those targets, veteran defender Christian Dailly, looks set to join Southend United before the turn of the year so it could be that Boothroyd is already being forced into back up plans.
On the pitch there’s been improvements, though. Passion and pride has at least been restored even if that leaky defence is still in dire need of being sorted out. Work rate has increased and we’ve ‘won a half’ having led at the break on Monday. Clutching at straws maybe but baby steps are important.
Swindon are up next and they will provide a steely test. Despite a Boxing Day defeat at Torquay, the Robins have steadily improved after a rocky start and Paulo Di Canio has steered them into a playoff position. They will be unlikely to give us anything of a respite from a run of twelve games without a win but as the window creaks open there’s a big chance for the players to get the stage one more time before the New Year. 2012 kicks off with a visit to Shrewsbury Town – the less said about the reverse fixture in November the better – so there’s absolutely no let up!
The overriding feeling now is that we need to kick on. There’s no real honeymoon period for Boothroyd and with some tough decisions coming up for the new manager, the turning of the calendar needs to be the turning of a completely new page for our beloved club.