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Jefferson Lake: Boothroyd pays for negativity on road

GRIM VIEWING - Aidy Boothroyd watches his Cobblers team get thrashed 4-1 by Wycombe on Saturday. He was sacked after the game (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

GRIM VIEWING - Aidy Boothroyd watches his Cobblers team get thrashed 4-1 by Wycombe on Saturday. He was sacked after the game (Pictures: Sharon Lucey)

 

From a Wembley final to the Job Centre in seven months - Aidy Boothroyd’s Sixfields fall was as rapid as his rise.

The latest incumbent of the Sixfields office lasted longer than both of the men that preceded him, although such a statistic is hardly surprising considering his immediate predecessor was the catastrophically bad Gary Johnson.

After Saturday’s dreadful 4-1 loss to Wycombe Wanderers at Sixfields, the board of directors decided enough was enough.

Boothroyd, who normally shakes hands with every player from both teams and all of the match officials at the end of the game, instead went straight down the tunnel.

Half an hour later he was being hauled over the coals in the boardroom.

Within an hour he was in his car, with his family, heading home to Worcestershire as an unemployed football manager.

It was somewhat bittersweet that David Cardoza, whose faith and trust in the manager was unwavering and who spoke in his programme notes about planning for the January transfer window, was not at the meeting when the deed was done, although his influence was obviously felt.

Cardoza deserves a lot of credit for giving Boothroyd every tool available to him to make a success of the Cobblers job.

When the first murmurings of discontent began (and really the play-off final itself was probably when the seed of such concerns was planted), he could have made the decision to change the manager.

Cardoza opted instead to stand by him.

When it became clear that the players signed in the summer were not up to the required standard, the chairman put his hand in his pocket and sanctioned the signing of several new ones.

In financial terms, he opted to stand by his manager.

People looking in from the outside will wonder what Boothroyd did to inspire such devotion from Cardoza, a man who it has to be said very rarely allows his heart to rule his head when it comes to difficult, business decisions.

Part of the reason will be the unwavering belief Boothroyd is able to generate in himself from others; whether it was in weekly press conferences or in the few fans’ forums he attended at Sixfields, everyone came away reassured that this was the man to lead Northampton Town forward.

That is why this publication never once came out in opposition to the manager and campaigned for his departure - the theory being that he was a man entirely capable of commanding the respect of his players, and of leading them in clear and decisive ways.

Everyone who met Boothroyd and listened to him speak with passion and conviction about his belief that he could improve the team’s situation, felt he could do it.

But the results did not lie.

This season has been a shambles and although there are factors (notably the injuries to the club captain, the unearthed diamond-in-the-rough goalscorer and the central midfield player widely believed to be one of the best ever produced by the youth system), it really has not been good enough.

Several of the close-season signings have been failures to this point and the policy of developing a side that could play in a number of different tactical ways was abandoned some time ago in pursuit of league points.

‘Back to basics’ was back.

It is ironic that it was a home game that got Boothroyd the sack because throughout his tenure it was the away form that was his biggest downfall.

He was too cautious away from home and he must now realise that was the case.

His natural positivity was betrayed by a negative mindset that all too often led to defeats, although they did occasionally pull off a big win on their travels in a big game - notably at Dagenham in his first season, and at Cheltenham in the play-offs last year.

When a team is not picking up points away from home it is vital that they do so on their own ground.

Draws are almost not acceptable.

Defeats are not acceptable at all and 4-1 defeats to limited sides like Wycombe are grossly unacceptable. As Aidy Boothroyd found out to his cost this week.

It will be interesting to see where his career goes from this point - a return to coaching, away from the pressures and expectation of being the main man, does not seem his cup of tea.

Nor does a place on the pundits’ sofa, which he will almost certainly now be offered.

In terms of his Northampton Town legacy, it is both a success and a failure.

He is responsible for some of the best moments of recent times (staving off relegation, the discovery of Alex Nicholls, a 10-game home winning streak) but also some of the worst (the constant poor away form, the last-minute defeats this season and, of course, the Wembley disaster).

Only time will tell if this was the right time to dispense with his services, and even if it is the correct decision at all.

Whether their rise or fall is as rapid as the man that preceded them… Well, it’s unlikely to be.

 

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