Page unveiled as the new man for Cobblers

523390419TM00005_PORT_VALE_The usual time scale for naming a new manager – particularly at the end of a season and before playoffs are complete – is pretty lengthy and drawn out but Kelvin Thomas and the Cobblers have worked fast to get their man as Port Vale’s Rob Page was unveiled this afternoon at a Sixfields news conference. It was clear from the start of the process last week that Thomas had some ideas in mind as to the type of profile he wants for the new boss and Page is likely to have been one of the candidates identified early on.

He’s by no means a high profile appointment but after plenty of recent appointments before Chris Wilder that have flattered to deceive in terms of coming with a load of hype and expectation it’s maybe for the best that we’ve gone for a young manager who has already done a decent job at League One level. Vale was Page’s first managerial position and having led them to safety in his first few months in charge at Vale Park, it’s notable that he helped them to defy last season’s relegation odds (Vale were second favourites for the drop at the start of the campaign) to finish in the top half of the table.

To me, that’s a key point of the whole appointment. He’s worked on limited resources to stabilise Vale and has worked above and beyond the goals that would have been set for him a year ago. Though his experience as a manager isn’t as vast as many on the list, he’s preferable to me to the likes of Gary Bowyer for his knowledge of the division both as a player and during his couple of years as a manager. He’s proved to be a good communicator and man manager and obviously has motivational skills to get players to play above their potential – particularly the likes of JJ Hooper who the Cobblers released in 2014 but reappeared for the Valiants with goals and performances of some maturity this season.

Vale fans were disappointed at the news of Page leaving too, which is a pretty good indicator, though some of their reasons for why he shouldn’t choose Northampton are questionable to say the least!

The appointment is early enough now for the Cobblers to move on and Page will have the entire summer to prepare for life in League One with his new charges. The key tasks will be retaining the likes of Adam Smith, Ricky Holmes and John-Joe O’Toole and dipping into his contact book to bring in the right players that won’t disrupt the team spirit of a club that went through every emotion possible together this season.

With all of this in mind, here are a couple of key points from this afternoon’s press conference where Page was formerly announced as the new Cobblers boss..

Kelvin Thomas welcomes his man…

Thomas welcomed Page to the club and emphasised his delight at bringing in an “outstanding young manager” who is “energetic,  young and ambitious.” He was looking for a manager to come in and continue the work done by Chris Wilder and Alan Knill.

John Harbin joins as Performance Coach…

Joining Page at the club is Performance Coach John Harbin who has a background in Rugby League and football and has previously held similar posts at Oldham, Crystal Palace, Charlton, Coventry, QPR, Swansea, Plymouth and with Page at Port Vale.

Further announcements to come…

More backroom staff appointments will be made “in due course” with the assistant manager position still open at the time of writing. Rumours of Marc Richards agreeing to become a player/assistant are rife but that’s yet to be confirmed.

The first words…

Page was immediately interviewed by Sky Sports News this afternoon and gave a steady, confident interview and emphasised the need to manage expectations. He mentioned that he’s not met the players because they’ve already gone off on their holidays but is already looking forward to pre-season. Page acknowledged Chris Wilder’s work and said that he’s spoken to the former Town boss, who was hugely complimentary about the squad.

He also gave his first Cobblers Player interview and said it was a “no brainer” to join the Cobblers after speaking with Kelvin Thomas, who he seems to credit a lot to in terms of the decision to leave Vale Park for Sixfields. He again praised the efforts of the players last season and expressed it as a “great opportunity” to work with them.

Overall, Page seems in a very calm mood on his first day in the job.

Let the new era officially begin!

Thursday Headlines…

Kitson...Cobblers chance

Aidy Boothroyd is targeting two more signings after missing out on one or two late deals on Tuesday evening. Late in the day, Boothroyd did complete a permanent signing of Ben Harding which now frees up a loan space when the loan window opens up again next week. That could well see us inherit a couple of final new faces to help out with the final push of the season with a winger thought to be the priority.

Two other new signings were completed ahead of the shutting of the window with youngsters Neal Kitson, a goalkeeper from the States, and local non league striker Lewis Wilson joining the ranks but both are expected to be more development moves with a view to extended deals come the summer time.

So a busy week for the Town boss who didn’t receive any solid bids for Michael Jacobs. Jacobs’ contract is up in the summer so we’re a little bit in limbo with that one with only a tribunal fee likely if he does move on at the end of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s opponents Macclesfield Town are sunning it up in the Canary Islands on a winter training camp ahead of the trip back to drizzly Northampton!

Tuesday Headlines…

Cobblers chairman David Cardoza answered fans’ questions this afternoon on a live web chat. He discussed topics such as new signings, his commitment to the club, Gary Johnson, Aidy Boothroyd and the ongoing issues with stadium development. You can see the entire web chat replayed here.

Paul Turnbull has returned to former employees Stockport County on an initial one month loan deal. It’s fair to say that the midfielder hasn’t lived up to the hype afforded to him by Gary Johnson on completing his pursuit of him in the summer and it makes sense for both parties to make this move. Turnbull could make his second début with the club this evening as the Hatters meet AFC Telford.

Meanwhile, Aidy Boothroyd expects it to be a busy last few days of the transfer window. I’m guessing that means more exits than new blood with the manager needing to cut down on the size of the squad which is still well too high. The problems then become bringing in the right replacements and I personally would prefer to see long term contracts than short term loans after the problems Stuart Gray had during his fateful relegation season.

Bayo Akinfenwa has once again sparked discussion over his future by being non committal about his future. “Whatever happens, happens,” is a little vague but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the big man is no longer a Cobbler come the end of the month despite him starting and scoring on Saturday against Barnet.

Former two time Cobbler Ashley Westwood has popped up as the new interim manager at Kettering Town following Mark Cooper’s decision to take a step back from the role. Westwood has taken a player/manager role with the Poppies struggling for players. If they’re that desperate for numbers maybe Westy can give his old defensive buddy Ashley Corker a call…

League Two transfer window update…

Former Norwich City striker Oli Johnson has signed for promotion hunters Oxford United on a deal until the end of the season. Johnson was released by the Canaries earlier this month.

Guy Madjo is the latest striker to attempt to solve Aldershot’s problems in front of goal. Madjo signed for an undisclosed, five figure fee from League One Stevenage having scored a hat-trick against the Shots whilst on loan at Port Vale in December. He made his debut on Saturday but couldn’t prevent his new side’s run without scoring to six games after a 0-0 draw against Accrington Stanley.

Heading out of the EBB Stadium though is midfielder Jermaine McGlashan who joined League Two rivals Cheltenham Town for an undisclosed fee.

Macclesfield Town have signed Chesterfield’s 30 year old midfielder Dwayne Mattis on a free transfer. Mattis struggled to get back into the Spireites’ side after suffering an ankle injury earlier in the season and agreed to cancel his contract at the club in order to make the move to Moss Rose.

And Morecambe have snapped up ex Man City and Rochdale striker Jack Redshaw on an 18 month contract after impressing during a recent trial.