“What’s that groan for darling, is Boris Johnson on the telly again?”
“No, it’s worse, Keith Curle’s gone back to the 3-5-2”.
The Summer of Love was a fleeting sun-kissed season in 1967 but Northampton Town’s sexy football was even shorter, lasting 47 minutes of the first half v Lincoln.
Cobblers players passed and moved at Sincil Bank, they caressed the ball, they canoodled between lines in an Amsterdam red light district performance that ended with the half-time whistle.
“It won’t last” scoffed some, “he’ll go back to hoofball” and it wasn’t looking good when Keith Curle hinted on Monday that sexy time was over and that the move to a 4-3-3 at Lincoln was temporary.
Up in Fleetwood, the mood wasn’t kiss me quick but bore me slowly as Curle reverted back to the wing-back system, the football amour equivalent of a first date with your parents as chaperones. Controlled, clinical, hands above the waist soccer.
What 3-5-2 brings in terms of an extra centre-back you lose in verve through the central midfield and Town went back to the familiar first-half 36% possession and passing accuracy approaching half of all balls going astray. Fleetwood were woeful thankfully, meaning Cobblers went into the break at 0-0 with the BBC stats registering zero shots on target.
At one point in the first-half a man could be seen in the houses behind the goal, looking in his fridge. You can imagine him watching a bit of this turgid game and banging his head on the window pane, mumbling the words to Another Night by the Real McKoy before going back to rifling the fridge for Pepperamis.
Another night, another dream, but always you
In the night, I dream of love so true
Just another night, another vision of love
You feel joy, you feel pain, ’cause nothing will be the same
With the game heading to an inevitable 0-0, Curle bought on Ryan Watson, out of the team for a while but a capable link man and, for a 10-minute period, the ex-Leicester man brought a bit of sexy back, like a glimpse of page 3 when looking through the paper. Luton loanee Peter Kioso grew into the game after an early bash to the head and placed a few purposeful passes to his team-mates.
That was it though as the game ended goalless and the pay what you think the match deserved IFollow price hovered at around 89p.
Cobblers fan Phil Garlick (@pgntc) on Twitter offered some context, to the buzz of people fed on a diet of Dairylea sandwiches briefly having a Findus Crispy Pancake wafted in from of their noses by pointing out that Cobblers have failed to score in 52% of League games this season.
Marvo (@marvo5marvo) went one further by adding that Town had “one win in 8 matches, just 5 points from a possible 24. This is our worse run of form in the League since February 2018 that culminated in the sacking of Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink.”
Out of the Cobblers last 30 regular EFL matches they have won 8, drawn 5 and lost 17.
And yet Keith Curle manages to pull more rabbits out of hats than Paul Daniels’ first date with Debbie McGee when it comes to picking up points at crucial times. The draw at Fleetwood kept Northampton a point above the relegation zone, with Cobblers performing less badly then the mini-league around them including Wimbledon and Swindon.
“Some coaches may start from the front but I start from a platform of I back my goalkeeper and I back my back three,” said Curle after the game. You maverick you, enough with the wild child stuff Keith.
The 4-3-3 at Lincoln gave us a taste of football lust but with Curle’s 3-5-2 it feels like Cobblers will never get past first base.
Town may stay up this season but if they go down, it could be playing within themselves.