With all the off-field talk of departures grabbing the attention, boss Keith Curle has revealed he challenged the Cobblers players to stand up and shine in Saturday’s clash with Carlisle United - and the players responded in style with that 3-0 victory.
The day before the showdown against the Cumbrians, the Cobblers sold key midfielder Matt Crooks to Sky Bet Championship side Rotherham United.
The message that I gave to the players was, ‘everybody is talking about what’s not in this changing room today... the important thing is the players who are in this changing room’Cobblers boss Keith Curle
That move followed quickly on the heels of Billy Waters departing for Cheltenham Town on loan, and a little over a week after top scorer Kevin van Veen had been sold to Scunthorpe United.
The reaction on social media to the players being allowed to leave and no replacements (left-sided defender George Cox aside) coming in was not exactly a positive one, but Curle used that to his advantage.
“The message that I gave to the players was, ‘everybody is talking about what’s not in this changing room today... the important thing is the players who are in this changing room’,” said the Cobblers boss, who relished the win against the club he left in the summer.
“I said ‘you are the players I back, that I select, and there is a reason why I have selected you, so go out and put in a performance that gets everybody talking about what is in this changing room’.
“I have to say they accepted the challenge, rose to the challenge and the end result was they enjoyed the outcome.”
Accept the challenge they certainly did, producing arguably the Cobblers’ best team performance of the season.
All the goals came in the second half, with Jack Bridge scoring two and creating the other for Junior Morias, and the former Southend United man was deservedly made man of the match for his efforts.
Curle was also delighted with Bridge, who took on Crooks’ creative role in central midfield and excelled, but added that he was just as pleased with many other aspects of the Town performance.
“I am still finding out about these players, but I think the indication from Saturday was very good,” said the Cobblers boss.
“Everybody will probably concentrate on the accolades for Jack Bridge and his performance and rightly so, but there were other things in my mind, within the structure of how we set the team up, that I was very pleased with.”
The Cobblers will be hoping to back up their win over Carlisle on Saturday when they travel to Cambridge United in Sky Bet League Two (ko 3pm).