Alexander wary of '˜wounded animal' as Scunthorpe prepare for Cobblers trip
Scunthorpe United boss Graham Alexander has warned his players to be wary of the '˜wounded animal' that is the Cobblers following a dramatic week at Sixfields.
Following last Saturday’s 5-0 beating at the hands of Bristol Rovers, Town boss Rob Page was sacked on Monday morning, and Alexander is expecting the Cobblers players to be out to prove a point when the Iron travel to Northampton on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Second in Sky Bet League One, Scunthorpe have enjoyed a great season so far and go into the weekend fixture as big favourites to claim the three points, but Alexander will be stressing to his players not to take managerless Cobblers lightly.
“Northampton are a wounded animal but they have still got good players,” said the United boss.
“There is lots of experience in there and these players tend to know how to compete even if the team is not playing particularly well.
“Last week’s result and the subsequent results of that have hit them hard and as a professional you usually react to that sort of thing.”
Scunthorpe entertained another side without a manager last weekend when they took on struggling Bury, and were made to battle for a 3-2 win at Glanford Park.
And Alexander says that encounter should act as an example to his players of what they can expect at Sixfields on Saturday, with Paul Wilkinson set to be in caretaker charge of Town.
“We saw last weekend that Bury had a caretaker manager in charge of a team that hadn’t won for a long time and we saw what a tough challenge that was,” said the former Fleetwood manager.
“We need to make sure we put any thoughts out of our mind about this being an easy game because it certainly won’t be.
“Northampton will compete at the right level from minute one and we need to make sure we are as good as we have been all season to get a positive result out of the game.”
Although flying high in the league table, Scunthorpe are on a run of patchy form, and they go into the clash against the Cobblers off the back of a heavy defeat of their own, as they were beaten 4-1 at Oxford United in the EFL Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.
Alexander made six changes for that encounter but was left hugely disappointed by his team’s performance, and he wants them to put it right this weekend.
“You have to take whatever you can out the game to make sure you play better next time,” he said.
“I include myself in that on Tuesday night because I am part of the team. I am not chucking everything on top of the players because I am the manager of that team and I take responsibility for it as well.
“You don’t want to be involved in results or performances like that but if you react in the right way those performances will happen minimally and not every week and that is what we have to do at the weekend.
“The players are a great group to work with and are very honest. Nobody is kidding themselves in the training room after the game but we need to make sure we are better on Saturday.
“We won’t look too deeply into one performance but you can’t hide away from it or make out it didn’t happen because it did.
“I certainly expect a reaction and I know the players do as well.”
Scunthorpe are expected to include former Cobblers striker Ivan Toney in their squad, after they signed the 20-year-old on loan until the end of the season from Newcastle United.
Toney had been a target of the Cobblers to take on loan as well, but he perhaps unsurprisingly opted for a stint with title challengers, and Alexander is delighted to have signed a player he admires greatly.
“Ivan’s someone that we’ve kept an eye on since he played against us here for Shrewsbury, where I thought he was excellent,” said Alexander.
“I spoke to him ten days ago or so, and had a great chat with him.
“He’s a player with a bright future in front of him, but he’s already made his mark in the game at a young age.
“He’s coming here to add to the competition. He wants to play games and score goals.
“We’ve got an ambitious young player who wants to come here and join a good footballing team that creates chances.
“It’s down to Ivan how successful he is in that period, but he has the talent to be a great addition for us. He enjoyed his time with Shrewsbury and they were great for him.
“There was interest from other clubs but we’re delighted Newcastle chose us to have him on board and hopefully he can do a great job for us.”
Scunthorpe have also signed former Accrington midfielder Matt Crooks on loan from Rangers.