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JEREMY CASEY COLUMN: Johnson has selective memory over time at Northampton Town

TOUGH TIME AT NORTHAMPTON - Gary Johnson

TOUGH TIME AT NORTHAMPTON - Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson is seemingly doing a great job back at Yeovil. The Somerset club are in with a genuine shout of promotion to the npower Championship, and the former Cobblers boss is seemingly in the process of rebuilding a reputation damaged by his troubled spell at Sixfields.

Most Cobblers fans who saw Johnson make such a pig’s ear of his time at their club will be somewhat surprised at his success at Huish Park, and most won’t be overly happy with his career’s upward curve, mainly because what he is doing at Yeovil is exactly what they wanted him to do at Sixfields!

But most Town fans will also have been content to let bygones be bygones, and just let Johnson get on with his job and his life, while Aidy Boothroyd gets on with rebuilding the club that was left in such a mess by the current Glovers gaffer.

So quite what possessed Johnson to talk about his time as Cobblers boss being some kind of success in The League Paper last weekend is beyond me.

In a nutshell, in an interview with the paper, Johnson claimed that he had saved the club from relegation, and hinted that the current team is doing so well as it is still sprinkled with gems that he brought to Sixfields, the men in question being Adebayo Akinfenwa, Kelvin Langmead and Ben Tozer.

He said that people see his time at Sixfields as a failure (which it was), but he says he doesn’t see it like that’.

Well, let’s get things straight here.

Gary Johnson did not save the Cobblers from relegation, he was the main reason they were almost relegated in the spring of 2011.

The team he inherited from Ian Sampson had admittedly not won in seven games, but was sitting in mid-table and still eyeing the play-offs.

Two months and 11 more games without a win later they were staring the trap door to the non-League in the face, and needed a 2-0 win over nine-man Stevenage in the penultimate game of the season to secure their safety.

It was not exactly what chairman David Cardoza had in mind when he gave Johnson the job.

The summer and start of the following season was even more of a disaster, with Johnson overseeing the formation of a sub-standard, spiritless team that was an easy touch defensively and powder-puff up front.

When Johnson was sacked in November 2011, Town were spiralling down the league two table and in a mess.

Many an observer, including me, are convinced the team would have been relegated had Johnson stayed in charge.

The club was in a mess.

Johnson is correct that he signed Akinfenwa (for a second Sixfields spell, hardly the work of a scouting genius), Langmead (twice the player under Boothroyd that he was under Johnson) and Tozer (who was already at the club on loan, brought in by Sampson), but he also signed the likes of Ashley Corker, Ashley Westwood, Chris Arthur, Nick McKoy, Aaron Davies, Paul Turnbull, Bas Savage and other players who struggled in the claret and white, while allowing solid players such as Billy McKay (currently one of the top scorers in the SPL), Abdul Osman (playing for Crewe) and Shaun Harrad (a regular scorer for Cheltenham) to leave the club and go on to prosper elsewhere

The bottom line is, no matter what he may say or what picture he might try to paint, Johnson had a nightmare at Sixfields.

He was a terrible manager of the Cobblers, none of his methods worked, and he should acknowledge that fact.

To spout off and claim that his time at Northampton wasn’t a failure is just ridiculous, is basically a lie, and has managed to once again rile every Cobblers supporter.

Johnson is now enjoying his time back at Yeovil, he is doing well, and good luck to him.

But his comments about his time at Northampton have ensured he is going to be in for a very, very warm welcome if he ever has to bring that Yeovil team to Sixfields.

And for that, he only has himself to blame.

Bradford do have a chance of Wembley glory

I’m off to Wembley on Sunday with the west Yorkshire branch of the family tree to take in the Captial One Cup final between Bradford City and Swansea City.

The fact a league two team has reached Wembley for an English showpiece final is worthy of celebration alone, but there is a chance, even if it is a slim one, the Bantams could go one step further and actually win the thing.

No team from the fourth tier of English football has claimed a major honour, and Bradford are just 90 minutes away from doing just that.

Swansea will rightly be hot favourites, and they should win the game, but then again, Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa ‘should’ have beaten Bradford in previous rounds as well - but they didn’t.

They were all beaten, and deservedly so in all cases.

Swansea’s patient passing style may well suit a Bradford side who will be extremely well drilled defensively, will sit deep, and try to hit the Swans on the break through the impressive Nahki Wells, or via a set-piece.

There is also huge pressure on the Welsh side, who are massive favourites but also trying to claim the first major honour in their history.

It’s not as if they are a Chelsea or Manchester United and used to winning on the big stage, they will probably be as nervous as the Bradford players. This is all new territory to them as well.

So if things don’t go to plan for them early on, and Bradford, with former Cobblers shot-stopper Matt Duke between the sticks, can keep the scores level for a lengthy period, then Swansea will feel that pressure.

It will then be up to Bradford to capitalise on any nervousness.

But whether Bradford end up as winners or not, their supporters are going to have a great day at Wembley.

And I might even be a bit of a lucky charm for the Bantams followers, as the last time I went to Wembley to see Swansea City was the Nationwide League Division Three play-off final in 1997, when John Frain smashed home that late, late winner to seal a 1-0 win for the Cobblers.

Will history repeat itself and Swansea leave Wembley empty-handed again? Who knows? But let’s hope it’s a cracking game.

 

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