Cobblers boss Rob Page has stressed the importance for his side to show their flexibility and be able to adapt to different styles of play this season as they adjust to League One football following promotion.
Page raised a few eyebrows with his team selection in Saturday’s season-opener against Fleetwood Town when he named both Marc Richards and Alex Revell up front in a 4-4-2 despite previously stating that 4-3-3 would be his preferred system.
But the Northampton manager, who led Port Vale to an impressive 12th-placed finish last season, believes the ability to be flexible and play different formations in certain games is a vital attribute in League One.
“One thing I learn from last season is that you have to be adaptable,” explained Page after Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
“At Port Vale I played 4-3-3 with one sitting and two advanced, I played 4-3-3 with two sitting and one advanced, and I finished the season playing 3-5-2 and we won three or four of the final six games.
“So we’ve got to be adaptable and you can’t only have one idea of how you want to play, so we might change it again for Tuesday.
“On Saturday, I brought Sam (Hoskins) on the right because I just wanted his pace and energy.
“He was out of position but we’ve done it in pre-season and in the training sessions I’ve put him on the right and with his pace, he doesn’t need a trick and he’ll hurt teams.
“It’s good when you have players like Sam and Alfie (Potter) and Lawson (D’Ath) who can play in more than one position, just by having pace in the team and they can come on and hopefully they’ll have more of an impact in other games.”
Revell played a key part in Northampton’s opening goal on Saturday when his shot cannoned back off the post, onto Fleetwood keeper Chris Neal and back into the net, while Richards fluffed his lines when presented with one golden late chance to earn the Cobblers all three points.
Assessing their performance, Page said: “When you work with two strikers like Rico and Revs, you can’t not play them because they pick themselves.
“It’s all right having a philosophy and an idea of how we want to play and a formation but the lads can always influence that and sometimes I’m not sure they realise that.
“They can have an influence on team selection every single day they turn up for training and those two (Richards and Revell) have worked ever so well.
“I thought some of their link play on Saturday was outstanding. The delivery into the box could have been better but you have to be adaptable.
“There’s room for improvement and that’s exciting for me.”