A new era was dawning in December for the Cobblers with Gary Johnson’s departure a month before sparking the usual clamour of names being linked to the club. After back to back hammerings at the end of November it was perhaps good timing that we had a couple of weeks break to name the new man and to recover with a free weekend thanks to our exit from the FA Cup.
After much debate and speculation it was with great pleasure that we welcomed Aidy Boothroyd to Sixfields and immediately set his stall out with positive interviews that were as honest and passionate as Johnson’s were strange and disconnected. Boothroyd, quite rightly, said that things would get worse before they got better as he attempted to transform a squad that were, at that point, completely demoralised.
The first assignment for the new boss was a home game with Crewe Alexandra and a creditable 1-1 draw kicked off the Boothroyd era. Bayo Akinfenwa put the Cobblers in front early on and looked like giving the team a perfect start but Byron Moore’s equaliser meant that we had to settle for a point. After the last couple of results, though, that was more than enough!
Next up was a trip to the most local side in the league, Oxford United, and after a tight first half, the U’s took charge and after Tom Craddock had put them in front, Deane Smalley finished us off with three minutes to go.
Boxing Day saw another chance for the home fans to witness the start of the new chapter as Burton Albion came to town. An extraordinary start saw Saido Berahino give the Cobblers the lead inside the first minute and Cleveland Taylor level it up just seconds later. A Michael Jacobs penalty put the Cobblers back in front in a frantic opening that eased off towards the break. Chris Palmer turned the scales back in the Brewer’s favour and the visitors went on to nick all the points with two minutes to go thanks to a Justin Richards penalty.
Boothroyd and the Cobblers needed desperately to see the end of 2011 but there was one more game left in the calendar year as Paulo Di Canio’s Swindon came to town. Michael Jacobs continued to make his mark under the new manager with a first half penalty but Alan Connell made it yet another game that was turned on its head. Di Canio would become the centre of controversy in stoppage time when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate Alan McCormack’s winner in front of the South Stand.
So one draw and three defeats to start with for Aidy Boothroyd but though it did get worse as the new boss said, the New Year and transfer window would sow the seeds for what would be the saving grace of the season.
Highlight of the month: Aidy Boothroyd signs on and starts with a home draw with Crewe.
Lowlight of the month: Three out of four games saw Town in winning positions only to drop points. The most irritating was Swindon’s victory and subsequent Di Canio celebration that was completely over the top.
Player of the month: Michael Jacobs continued to impress his new boss in his first month in charge.