Jacobs finalises move to Derby

Jacobs…signs for Derby

So it’s all final and Crackers is no longer a Cobbler with Derby making their expected swoop to finalise the deal. It’s another one from the undisclosed fee bracket but it’s sounding likely to be somewhere around the £400,000-£500,000 mark which would be a reasonable return for a player who graduated from the youth system and who follows in the footsteps of Mark Bunn and Bradley Johnson who have left Sixfields for higher ground in the past few years.

It’s a farewell that’s in a similar mould to those two as well…young lads who want to test themselves at higher levels and want to take their careers to the next steps. We can’t stand in Jacob’s way, particularly with his contract expiring and though Aidy Boothroyd would love to hold onto him for another year it’s almost inevitable that he moved on.

Timing wise, it’s good for us and gives us the time to try and bring in firstly a replacement and then maybe even a player for another position if the funds are allowed to be brought back to squad building. There’s a good month and a half before the big kick off and I would imagine Aidy has options in mind having known about Jacobs’ decision for a few weeks now.

It’s a shame to lose a talented player but hopefully there’s some sort of sell on clause included in the deal so that any future move would give us a nice little earner. He will be back at Sixfields for a pre-season friendly with his new side on July 31st.

Good luck Crackers!

Time to move on as Jacobs signals intent

Jacobs…on his way

It’s been confirmed today that Michael Jacobs has rejected the new contract offered to him by the Cobblers and if he wasn’t odds on to leave Town already then he definitely is now. When the official website talks of rejected contracts there’s usually a sense that another offer would be forthcoming. In this case, the site confirms interest from the Premier League and the Championship and that can only mean that they’re not going to fight any more to keep their most prized asset.

It’s fair enough. Jacobs has to move on with his career and if this interest from that high up is genuine then who are we to stop him? Now is the right time for him to move on and now is also the time when we need to be trying to speed up the process if Jacobs is keen to do the same. The club needs to know exactly what sort of budget we’ll be working with and it would give Aidy Boothroyd a massive helping hand if he can have definite money on the table from any sale or compensation.

It remains to be seen as to what route Jacobs takes. Mark Bunn, starved of big opportunities since joining Blackburn Rovers from Town in 2008, will warn that it takes time to break into a first team having been loaned out twice since heading north. Jacobs is a slightly different case being an outfield player but he should be warned.

I just hope for the player that he gets a realistic move with a good manager to guide him through the rigours of what could be frustrating times initially. It’s unlikely to be a move where he goes straight into a first team and he will have a lot to prove. Having the right man in charge will be absolutely crucial to his progression.

I also hold no grudge at all against Jacobs. He’s leaving the club in the right way, has been completely honest and will be welcomed back one day if he ever returns for an opposing team. I’m hoping there’s a few sneaky clauses in the contract wherever he goes as well so that we can benefit a little should he ever become a full international, play 30 times a season or make a cup of tea for Arsene Wenger.

So good luck Mr Jacobs, always one of our own.

NTFC Season In Review 2011/12: December

The Boothroyd era began in December…

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.

Jacobs..top man in December

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.

Cobblers catch up!

Platt…first signing of the summer

After a week in sunny Birmingham, intensely locked away with a Post Graduate Certificate residential, I’m back and thought I needed to catch up on some of the news from Sixfields this week, including the first new signing of the summer!

I have to first mention the Richard Butcher Memorial match that took place at Sixfields last week and after a shaky start in terms of people not knowing where or when to pick up tickets that in turn led to a delayed kick off it sounded like a really positive evening that featured most of the Wembley ’97 team, led by Ian Atkins, taking on a mixed bag of opposition led by Kevin Wilson. I hear Atkins even brought himself on for the final ten minutes. How he must have wished he could have done that back in those glory days! All in all, a 1,500 attendance and some good old fashioned nostalgia was a fine show for a fine man.

The biggest debate this week comes from Clive Platt’s signing and whether or not he’s a ‘Bayo replacement’ with the big man, and last season’s leading scorer, thought to be available to offers this summer. I’m not necessarily in the camp that says just because we’ve signed another big striker that the other one is on his way out. Platt has a decent record at the lower levels but has never been known solely for goals, something that Bayo has always provided. One thing that is clear from the interviews with Aidy last week is that Platt was high on, if not top of, the ‘priority signing’ list this summer. Having seen his signings in the last few months then I have no doubt at all that a 34-year-old signing a two year deal is a bad thing. Experience is massive in League Two and time will tell as to whether Bayo will be working with or competing with Platt. I’m still not convinced that Bayo is going.

Michael Jacobs, meanwhile, most certainly is. There appears no doubt in anyone’s mind that the midfielder will be at least a Championship player come August. Derby are the hot favourites to net the Cobblers’ Player of the Year and, with their new emphasis on recruiting young, raw talent from the lower leagues, seem an ideal fit. It’s surely only a matter of time and I personally wish him well. Get some clauses in there, though, Aidy!

So that’s about it unless I’ve missed anything else?! There’s some more Season In Review parts on the way this week and then all eyes will be on the summer rumour mill et al as the blog rolls on towards 2012/13!

Pancake Day success as Cobblers record back to back wins!

Bayo...tenth goal of the season


3 x goals scored by Michael Jacobs, Luke Guttridge and Adebayo Akinfenwa  

Only 2 x conceded goals

3 x points

4484 x Northampton Town supporters

45 x Macclesfield supporters

A slice of good fortune

A sprinkle of hearts for the mouth

Mix all ingredients together to create the perfect ‘Cobblers Pancake’ and soon enough you will be to within touching distance of escaping the bottom two.

Last night all of the above came together to create one of the nervier and entertaining games of the season so far. It was crucial that we picked up maximum points by any means necessary and that’s exactly what happened with Macclesfield now suffering from eight defeats in a row. Indeed the Silkmen are now right in the thick of a relegation battle that can be argued to include anyone from Barnet in 18th down to bottom club Dagenham and Redbridge, who The Cobblers now sit three points clear of.

It was by no means silky, slick and overpowering as performances go but that’s not going to come into anyone’s minds this morning from a Cobblers persuasion as we look at the League Two table a lot happier. It’s a sign of how low things have got when we’re over the moon with being level on points with the team third from bottom but Aidy Boothroyd is putting his stamp on this team and looking upwards.

The signing of a player from one of the relegation rivals in Bradford keeper Matt Duke could be seen as an odd move but he started for the first time and became the fifth stopper to don the Cobblers gloves this season. His experience, if anything else, should come in very handy but I wonder if it came to it whether Bradford would quickly recall him should it come down to us and them for one of the final places in the drop zone?! That debate is for another day and after this tension filled game we are hopefully on the way to ensuring that the only thing we’re playing for at the end of the season is points and not the future of the club.

It’s become a rarity for Town to fall behind in games under Boothroyd but that we did on the fifteen minute mark with George Donnelly firing in from close range. The lead didn’t last long though and Michael Jacobs’ goal direct from a corner, whether he meant it or not, was crucial in getting us back on terms within eight minutes.

It would get better as a first half turn around was complete right on the whistle with Luke Guttridge continuing his terrific return to the club with a well taken header from a Ben Harding free kick. Just what the doctor ordered!

The next goal was always going to be the big one and it certainly turned out to be just that with Bayo Akinfenwa bringing the ball down for a crisp volley to net his tenth goal of the season. Anyone questioning the need for the big man in the team over the transfer window may be thinking again after Bayo’s impact in the last few weeks. The fact is that there is no other player like him in the league and I still think we would be foolish to have him leave. Akinfenwa would later depart as a substitute for Ben Tozer to a standing ovation.

The script wasn’t all to go to our plans though and while some of us were calculating that just one more goal was needed to escape the bottom two on goals scored, Macclesfield suddenly hit back for 3-2. Ben Tomlinson grabbed the opportunity after some shaky defending and reduced the deficit to start the nerves of final few minutes.

One more chance went begging for the visitors as a low cross was held well by Duke. Sixfields (minus 45 South Stand observers) exhaled, the whistle finally blew and the win was ours!

So not only is it two wins in a row but it’s two home wins in a row, an even rarer treat on a night where tickets were halved in price. The same initiative, with 40% going towards Macmillan Cancer Care.

The excellent venture is in place for Saturday’s home game with Port Vale and hopefully it will lead to a decent attendance once again…it’s a tougher game on paper so the support is greatly needed as we edge closer and closer to a great escape!

Rock Bottom

The worst fears have been confirmed and I guess pretty aptly the Cobblers finish 2011 and begin 2012 at the very bottom of the Football League. Despite an improvement of all aspects performance wise over the last few weeks as Aidy Boothroyd stamps his mark on the squad the results have still been on the negative side to push us to the foot of the table.

It’s a perilous place to begin a New Year with absolutely no luck seeming to come our way and another late goal conceded yesterday was coupled with the fact that visitors Swindon had earlier been reduced to ten men. Michael Jacobs could well have scored the final goal of his Cobblers career after slotting in a first half penalty to give us the lead against the promotion chasing Robins but Alan Connell levelled things mid-way through the second half.

Oliver Risser was given his marching orders for a challenge on John Johnson, sent off himself on Boxing Day, but Paulo Di Canio’s men wrapped up victory with an Alan McCormack strike that sent the Swindon manager into delirium as he ran all the way to the South Stand to celebrate. Whatever situation you’re in and however much emotion takes over there’s simply no excuse for that sort of conduct as far as I’m concerned. Di Canio showed no class and a complete lack of respect for the home support and players who were absolutely sunk by another dramatic defeat.

We’ve been through one hell of a year and when it’s capped off in this manner with such a late defeat the last thing we need is it being rubbed in our faces by the opposition number. Apparently he’s apologised to Aidy Boothroyd but he needs to do the same to the supporters of our club who he’s royally upset.

The aftermath, in which the realisation set in that we were bottom following Plymouth’s draw, was one of desperation. We know that there’s months to play – half the season in fact – but it’s going to take a monumental effort on and off the pitch to ensure ourselves of league status for next season. The Gary Johnson debacle needs to be sorted and while I trust wholeheartedly in Boothroyd to gets us out of it I can’t help but be overwhelmingly nervous about the months to come.

2012 begins with a transfer window which is a good start and I expect a lot of activity coming up. Ben Harding has already signed up loan from League One Wycombe Wanderers until the end of the season and there’s likely to be at least one more in tomorrow.

It’s a hell of a time to be visiting Shrewsbury Town tomorrow afternoon – the side that hammered us 7-2 in November – but we must stick behind the squad, new and old, to recover our proud club together.

A Happy New Year to you all!

***Since writing this blog, the Cobblers have signed Sunderland left back, yes LEFT BACK (at long last!), Blair Adams on a month’s loan ahead of the Shrewsbury game.

Described as an attacking defender, Adams has made his way through the ranks at Sunderland and has been close to breaking through so hopefully it’s another good spot from Mr Boothroyd.

Meanwhile, Boothroyd boarded the supporters’s coach this morning to thank fans for their support and to wish them a Happy New Year. Great stuff from the boss! ***