Tom Reed breathes a sigh of relief over the steadying of the ship and asks if the long term future can be secured today…
Few Cobblers fans would have expected Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to get off to such a flying start with the Dutchman claiming 7 points from his first 3 games. Contrast that to the zero points outgoing gaffer Justin Edinburgh clawed together and the contrast is stark. Yet, Hasselbaink still has work to do after Cobblers threw away a win at Southend United by conceding a second half brace to draw 2-2.
Hasselbaink’s first game in charge after Edinburgh’s sacking saw his side foil Doncaster Rovers, manager by hated ex-Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson. Rovers’ front line was led by former Cobbler John Marquis but it was Matt Crooks who proved goal king by notching after 21 seconds at Sixfields in a 1-0 win. Crooks again proved the star man the following Tuesday when Northampton saw off sleeping giants Portsmouth in an enthralling 3-1 win. Agile striker Chris Long bagged a double while the elegant Crooks flicked home a header for the Cobblers’ third.
Those of the shoe army heading to the Essex coast went home disappointed after Northampton suffered a nightmare second-half despite going into the break 2-0 to the good. In thruth, Town have lagged in the latter periods in all Hasselbaink’s games and the Town boss is suffering from a lack of attacking midfield options on the bench to make the ball stick in opposition territory.
Crooks is undoubtedly Town’s best offensive midfielder but the 6ft 4” former Rangers man proved offensive to the referee in a different way by refusing to let a quick Southend free-kick be taken and being shown a second yellow card and hence his marching orders.
If anything, the dismissal shows that Hasselbaink has more of a job on his hands than the first two victories suggested. It was never going to be easy taking over from the inept Edinburgh and now the Cobblers boss will have to reinforce his ideas on stamina and agression off the ball.
With the live wire Sam Hoskins some way off full fitness, Daniel Powell flattering to deceive and Leon Lobjoit considered too raw for first team action, Hasselbaink may have to raid the out of contract market for creative options in attack. With his own links to Holland and Associate Director Graham Carr’s extensive continental scouting connections it would be no surprise to see a couple of rough diamonds come in from abroad. Hasselbaink bought slinky midfielder Nasser El Khayati to former club Burton Albion and such a ball-carrying attacker may be on the cards again.
Despite the teething problems, Hasselbaink looks the real deal and has impressed with his meticulous attitude to training and match preparation. Town finally look to have a manager to carry on the great work of Chris Wilder who is now at Sheffield United. Yet, therein lies the problem as Cobblers will continue to struggle to keep hold of managers who show any sign of ability.
It seems as if Town have spent as much money on hiring and firing managers in the past few years as they have on signing players and so in this light it makes sense to invest in bosses for the future. That may take the form of having a whole production line throughout the youth ranks who are qualified up to the eyeballs with all the top level coaching and managerial qualifications as is common in Germany.
Hopefully, Hasselbaink will take Cobblers to the (recently) uncharted waters of the Championship or even the Premier League before he leaves for another club. Then, Town should be looking to promote from within rather than gambling on an outside chance from the existing managers’ circuit as they have to their disadvantage on too many occasions.
For all your Cobblers needs check out our new Twitter page @NQNTFC.