Rob Page understands the Cobblers supporters’ frustrations and doesn’t blame them for booing the team off following Tuesday night’s derby defeat at Peterborough United, saying they ‘have every right to voice their opinion’.
But the Town boss also made an impassioned plea for the fans and his team to put the 3-0 humbling at Posh behind them and ‘bounce back together’ in Saturday’s crucial Sky Bet League One trip to bottom-of-the-table Shrewsbury.
After a seven-year wait for the resumption of the big derby date, Tuesday’s trip to London Road quickly turned sour as Northampton were soundly beaten.
A significant section of the 2,200-strong travelling support showed their displeasure at the end by booing Page - who had caused a stir prior to kick-off by making four changes to the starting line-up - and the players off the pitch, and the Town manager was not surprised.
“I understand the fans’ frustrations, and I apologised straight after the game,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I had a good conversation with Kelvin (Thomas) after the game, and I reiterated that message to him as well, that I really felt for the fans.
The fans have every right, they pay their money to come and watch and they have every right to voice their opinion. I will never, ever have a supporter for doing that, it is fine. But what is important now is that we all stick together, we bounce back together.Cobblers boss Rob Page
“It is a local derby. I hate losing games of football anyway, but when it is in a derby like that and knowing what it means to the supporters, it really hurt me and the players and we did feel it at the end.
“If I felt it was a lack of effort or commitment from the players, then I would have let my feelings known to them, but it wasn’t that, it was a lack of concentration for the goals.
“But the fans have every right, they pay their money to come and watch and they have every right to voice their opinion. I will never, ever have a supporter for doing that, it is fine.
“But what is important now is that we all stick together, we bounce back together.
“We win games together and we lose games together, and we were hurting as much as the fans the other night.
“It is important now we get back together, get that support back together, and get back to winning ways.”
Some of the Cobblers players were visibly taken aback by the reaction of some of the Town fans to the loss at Posh, but Page says learning to take criticism is part and parcel of the profession they are in.
“This is football, and this is what happens,” said Page, speaking on Thursday morning at the club’s Moulton College training ground.
“If you score the winning goal and you are prepared to take the praise that goes with it, when you don’t have a great game and you lose a local derby, then you can expect criticism.
“That is football. If you are prepared to read the good things in the press, then you have to read the bad stuff as well, it is all part and parcel of it.
“The fans have every right to voice their opinion, we are all passionate about football, and that’s the supporters as well.
“We all want what is best for his football club, we all want to climb this division, we all want to get promoted to the Championship, whether it is this season or next or the season after.
“We all want that common goal, and everybody is entitled to get frustrated, but what is important now is that it’s done, it is finished, we move on to the next game and we are all back together as one family trying to achieve the same goal.”
Page is now hoping everybody will draw a line under the defeat to Posh, and that the fans will keep faith and turn out in numbers at Shrewsbury on Saturday as the team attempts to put an end to a run of form that has seen them claim just one point out of the past 12 available to them.
“It would be great is there is a big following (at Shrewsbury) on Saturday to get behind the boys,” said the Town boss.
“The boys will be ready for the game, we are after a positive reaction, and we will keep doing the things we believe in on the pitch.
“That has got us the start of the season we have had, so there is not a lot wrong.
“We will be tweaking a couple of things, and hopefully it is Saturday that we put things right.”