No, this isn’t going to be a blog slating the England football team after another penalty shoot-out defeat and exit from a major competition. I’m not about to say how the Cobblers should learn lessons from anything that the national side did wrong. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as we now head full throttle into the pre-season schedule that lasts that little bit longer this year because of the Olympics.
We should actually be taking some of the attitudes and lessons from this summer’s campaign into our outlook for our own club as we look towards another nine month haul of what’s likely to include as much nerve jangling and bitten nails as ever before. The low expectation from the general Englishman was, in my eyes, a refreshing change and made us all go into this tournament with a feeling of the underdog about us rather than proclaiming that this was definitely to be our year. It struck me in its familiarity with Cobblers supporters during most months of July when bookies, managers and fans start building us up like it’s about to be 1987 all over again (Google it, kids!).
What happened over the last couple of weeks with England was that the players seemed to play with more focus than ever before. No, it’s not been free flowing or even slightly attack minded but to me that’s not what makes a great team. We watched Ian Atkins build a team of misfits in the nineties that gave us all one of the greatest days of our lives on the back of spirit, whole heartedness and a sheer desire to win at any cost. What everyone remembers is the score line from May 24th 1997 – Northampton Town 1-0 Swansea City. What everyone remembers is John Frain’s 93rd minute goal…at a push they’ll remember Woody’s fingertip save from Carl Heggs and the fact that Shaun Parrish almost snuck on in mid-way through the first half.
The point being, in the history books, a lot of the great Cobblers sides have been built on low expectation, backs to the walls battling and pride. Sound familiar? Of course England bowed out last night but compare that to the dreadful feelings from 2010 after Germany demolished our hopes. I know which one I would prefer.
The Cobblers are, in many ways, going about their business quietly this summer and long may that continue. Once Michael Jacobs completes his expected move to Derby that might well change a bit but Aidy Boothroyd isn’t shouting anything from the roof tops which is great to see.
The quiet and dignified manner that took England to Euro 2012 and the way that we played would be very welcome in my eyes in our League Two campaign. I honestly would prefer us to be scoring goals, making progress and showing spirit rather than try to pass the ball around the back four, play ‘attractive football’ and go nowhere. Going alongside that, we need to be patient in expectations and not let a bad start to the season get us down or shouting abuse.
Unfortunately we’re not the big fish in a small pond like perhaps we were when we were splashing a bit of cash in the 2003-2006 period. We need to understand that as supporters, embrace it and then if something comes of the season that feeling of elation will be ten times what it would have been if we simply went into the season with arrogance.
The players come back for pre-season very soon and I can’t wait to get stuck into it again. Things are likely to start picking up transfer wise soon and hopefully you’ll hear more from me too with previews and all sorts shaping up for July!