Northampton Town Season Preview

northamptonThe Football Lab interviewed Northampton Town fan Luke Toresen, ahead of the new season. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeToresen4. Here, Luke discusses the progress of youngster Ivan Toney, the signings made in the fullback area, and the factors behind last season’s upturn in form under Chris Wilder.

With just 3 defeats after mid-February, Northampton stayed up under Chris Wilder. Was it only a matter of time before the squad you had started getting results?

I think it was, we brought in some real quality in January and got rid of some lesser players, and of course it took a bit of time for it to gel together but that’s natural, once they did we were one of the top form sides in the league, and I’m hoping that can now continue into next season.

The loan of Zander Diamond from Burton seemed to have been a factor in that run of form. Are you pleased to have signed him on a permanent basis?

Definitely, he was a rock at the back and we really needed him, due to the fact we lost Langmead and Collins through injury. He has to be one of the first names on the team sheet each week and I’m pleased we’ve got him tied up on a 3 year deal.

Daniel Alfei joins on loan from Premier League Swansea, while Evan Horwood returns to Sixfields. Was it important to strengthen at fullback?

I think it was. We had Leon McSweeney for the second half of last season and I thought he was a good right back but things happen and he didn’t stay, so I’m pleased we’ve got a right back and from what I’ve seen in pre season, he’s a good, promising right back. We’ve also got Gregor Robertson as a left back who will be competition for Horwood, which will hopefully bring the best out of whoever plays to become number 1 left back.

New boy John Joe-O’Toole is a goalscoring midfielder, who has at times been criticized for a lack of defensive discipline. Will he be given the licence to focus on attacking play?

Yes, we’ve brought him in as someone to play in the number 10 role behind the strikers. Based on the formation we play, there should be a central midfielder behind them, whether it’s Carter or Ravenhill, to focus on helping out the defence, so I think he will be given a licence to focus on attacking as that’s what he’s been brought in for.

Academy graduate Ivan Toney was quick to make an impact on the first team. Are you excited about his progress?

I’m excited about his progress, but I’m also wary about him getting ahead of himself. He’s got a lot of potential but he is still only 18, I’m presuming after the impact he had in our last 2 games last season he’ll be given more chances, but these next two seasons are the ones vital for his career, and I’d hate for him to ruin it.

Since he last left Sixfields, striker Marc Richards has averaged 12 goals per season over 9 years. Are you happy to have him back?

I am happy, when he was first at Northampton I didn’t see him play but I’ve heard a lot about what he did. If he can hit 15-20 goals this season it’d be great!

Striker Alex Nicholls had been sidelined for some 20 months due to injury. Are you pleased to see him back in the squad?

I am really pleased. He’s worked so hard on rehab and trying to get back to match fitness, and all Cobblers fans would love to see him get offered a contract after all his effort, before his injury he had a decent record for us and I’d love to see that Nicholls back again. (So get on it and sign him up Wilder!)

So far this summer, Chris Wilder has been able to offer contracts that are relatively long-term. Will this be an advantage?

It will be an advantage. Wilder’s signing players on these long deals because as he’s said, he wants a set squad for a longer period, rather than worrying about trying to get players to sign new deals after each year. This will cause less distraction for him, as he can just focus on getting us playing better football and finishing higher in leagues!

With most bookmakers, Northampton are at around 9/2 for another promotion. Where will you finish?

I’d like to think with the form we showed towards the end of last season, we could push for a play off place, or maybe sneak into an automatic promotion spot, that would be brilliant!

 

TFL Verdict

Northampton completely underachieved last season, but given the improvement in form under Chris Wilder, they could now be League Two’s dark horses. 6th

(Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northampton_Town_F.C.)