Cobblers making steady progress - but Curle sees 'massive' room for improvement
It was at this stage last season – 10 league games in – when Dean Austin met his downfall as Cobblers manager.
Twelve months later and current boss Keith Curle, having managed seven more points, overseen three more wins and guided his side nine places higher in the Sky Bet League Two table, can rest assured he will not suffer the same fate.
Curle, in fact, has now overseen 46 league games during his 12 months in charge, the equivalent of a full season, and his return of 68 points from those matches would, in a typical year, place Town just outside the play-off places.
That undoubtedly represents an improvement on recent campaigns. Curle, in a not-too-dissimilar way to Chris Wilder a few years back, has cleaned up the mess he inherited, rejuvenated the squad and is gradually turning things around.
But he openly admits the Cobblers are a long way from where they ultimately want to be and if he is to see the job through like Wilder, improvements need to be made in the coming weeks and months.
“The players are adhering and getting an understanding of how to gain points,” reflected Curle this week.
“There’s still room for us to develop – massively – and there’s still personnel we have missing from the squad that will add extra dynamics to us.
“But there’s players that are performing and emerging. As a squad we’re still developing and there’s more to come from personnel within it and that’s the pleasing thing for me.
“By no means are we finished article – there’s still more to come from us.”
Although 12th place and 14 points from 10 games represents a solid start, in an ideal world the Cobblers would be a little closer to the play-off positions.
But with their next three fixtures all against teams currently in the bottom four, starting at 22nd-placed Morecambe on Saturday, Curle knows a couple of quick wins will propel his side towards the business end.
Interestingly, Wilder’s team were only two places and one point better off at the same stage of their title-winning season four years ago.
“Ideally I’d like to be top of the table about eight points clear! We know where we are and we have an understanding of what we need to do in games and the challenges that we’ll face throughout the season,” added Curle, whose team are three points off seventh spot:
“We’re creating a culture within the changing room that we don’t fear any challenge and we don’t fear any opposition.”
Harry Smith is available for selection again following suspension while Alan McCormack and Reece Hall-Johnson could return to the squad, but Ryan Watson and Steve Arnold remain out.