Justin Edinburgh says the Cobblers’ defensive problems are a ‘collective’ issue, and that the whole team has to ‘be more determined’ to keep the ball out of the net.
In the past 10 games in Sky bet League One, Town have conceded an unacceptable 23 goals, conceding five on two occasions, and in Edinburgh’s eight games at the helm they have let in 16.
The past three games have seen the Cobblers concede seven times in the 2-2 draw at Southend, 3-0 loss at Fleetwood and Tuesday night’s 2-1 reverse at the hands of Oldham Athletic, with the majority of the goals avoidable.
The only clean sheet the team has managed in 2017 came in the 3-0 win over a hapless Coventry City side, but Edinburgh isn’t going to start pointing the fingers at individuals, instead making it clear it is something every member of the team is responsible for.
The Town boss was extremely disappointed with how his team conceded the three goals at Fleetwood, and particularly Oldham’s stoppage time winner through Lee Erwin in midweek, and suggested his players need to be braver.
“It is a collective,” said the Cobblers boss. “If you look at the second goal against Oldham on Tuesday, there are little segments that all lead to it. It’s not a defensive issue, it’s not the midfield.
“It comes from a kick that I think can be a better distributed kick, I think we can challenge for the ball better, I think we can do better on the seconds.
“Could we have been a bit more cute and made a foul on the halfway line?
“I think if you dissect it, when goals are being conceded, everybody says ‘is it the goalkeeper?’, ‘is it the defence?’, ‘is it the strikers’?.
“But it is a collective, and we need to be better collectively.
“On Tuesday we have got good bodies around the shot, and somebody has go to take the ball in a place where maybe it might hurt. I mean, is it really going to hurt? It’s only a ball, it’s only going to sting you.
“That is my focal point, in the build up to that second goal we have more than enough numbers to stop the ball going in, but we aren’t doing enough to make sure it hits us, rather than our net.
“So we have to be a bit more determined to stop those goals going in.”
Edinburgh made one change to his defence on Tuesday with Gaby Zakuani replacing Zander Diamond, but to many observers the problem lies with the players in front of the defence rather than the back four unit.
The Town boss has tinkered with his midfield formation virtually every game to try and find the right blend, but he admits his hands are tied as to what he can do.
Matt Taylor and John-Joe O’Toole have been mainstays, with the likes of Hiram Boateng, Gregg Wylde, Jak McCourt, Keshi Anderson and Harry Beautyman in and out of the frame.
Edinburgh accepts he is still striving for the midfield formula that offers the right balance between defence and attack, but believes whoever he selects is good enough to do the job.
“I would like to have a little bit more option to change it, but I haven’t,” admitted the Cobblers boss.
“I am not going to sit here and moan about that, I have a team that I put out there that I feel is capable of winning a football match that’s for sure.”