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Gripped by the Cobblers: Another day to forget, Curle under pressure & the structural debate rumbles on

Poor old mysterious Curle is having a tough time of it at the moment, not quite as bad as the Cobblers fans who had to endure the 3-0 rout at Scunthorpe but a tough time nonetheless.

The Northampton manager, who has said he sets his teams up to stop the opposition, had to watch on as cobblers played in Matrix style slow motion when a previously struggling Scunthorpe side were just running through and slapping them silly.

It was a day to forget for Town to join the various other days to forget we have thankfully forgotten but are definitely in the hundreds. Kevin Van Veen put the tin hat on it by curling home a deliciously bitter third for the Iron and celebrating in front of the Northampton away faithful.

Meanwhile, Curle’s perplexing tactics continue with players played out of position left, right and centre. If Curle was given mince, tomato sauce and pasta right now he’d try and make an omelette.

Cobblers find themselves in 18th place in League 2, 6 points off the playoffs and 8 points off the single drop zone to non-league. It’s a place no-one wants to be, particularly Curle who has made no secret of his desire to finally get a promotion on his CV. Cobblers drew with bottom placed Morecambe before anyone says we are too good to go down.

18th place is pretty poor but can perhaps be considered about right, not for where the club could be but for where it actually is. Curle was out of work for a fair while before being offered the Northampton job, hardly a manager at the top of his game. At board level, Kelvin Thomas has divided his time between the UK and the USA. Nothing wrong with that particularly but not a Andy Holt at Accrington type, on the ground every day directing the minute details to drive a small club forward. As the Love Island lot say, it is what it is. 

Thomas has said the club needs extra investment to move forward and the aborted 5USports involvement aside that has yet not arrived yet. Obviously the ongoing rigamarole of the basic fit out of a poor East Stand has sucked much of the life out of the fans.

The issue for some critics is whether the £3.8 million in loans from companies associated with the club owners, as of 2018, is worth the footballing return on the pitch?

The Supporters Trust have and continue to argue to that the club needs a modern hybrid community ownership vision, with planned infrastructure investment, an increased sporting link up in the town and more joined up thinking between the youth structure and first team, all imminently sensible.

Those in the “Curle Out” camp are becoming more vocal and if they want him gone, it’s only polite to have capable replacements in mind. The talent pool isn’t particularly deep when you have a look at available managers. Sol Campbell looks the standout having Premier League pedigree and doing a good job under difficult circumstances at Macclesfield.

Jon Brady is an obvious suggestion for promotion from within, working wonders with the under-18 side who are consistently at the summit of their league and who acquitted themselves well against Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup last term. Whether Brady wants the stress and job insecurity of the top job is anyone’s guess.

Kevin Wilkin at Brackley is a name that won’t go away, having been linked to the job in the past 3 recruitment rounds. Wilkin, a former Hotel End favourite has done a sterling job at the Saints, winning the FA Trophy in 2018. 

The one thing that all managers worth their salt have in common though is ambition and it is questionable whether bosses, looking to assault League 1 will see Northampton as the right place right now. That may rule out such out of work, experienced bosses as Steve Cotterill who may bide their time to join a club on an upward trajectory.

For Curle though, these are uneasy times having signed a contract to the end of this term and there may be a temptation to make the change now and salvage a season going fast down the khazi. The arguments about the structure of the club will begin again, joining other forgotten and resurrected debates that have gone on since about 1897. 

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