Joe Bunney admits it was ‘a big decision’ for him to quit Rochdale and head south to sign for the Cobblers.
The 24-year-old left-back had spent the past five years at Spotland, playing for the club that had plucked him from non-League football and gave him his big chance in professional football.
It was a difficult decision, but I was running out of contract and I felt I needed a new challenge, and Northampton appealed to me massively, so it is good to be here. I spoke with the manager and his ambition matched mineNew Cobblers signing Joe Bunney
But after 98 starts and 46 substiute appearances in the blue and white of Dale, and with his contract set to run out this summer, Bunney felt it was time for a fresh start.
And when the Cobblers came knocking, it was the ambition of manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink that persuaded him that new beginning should be at Sixfields.
“It was a big decision for me, because I have been at Rochdale a long time now, for five seasons,” said Bunney, who played non-League for the likes of Lancaster City, Stockport County and Northwich Victoria.
“So it was a difficult decision, but I was running out of contract and I felt I needed a new challenge, and Northampton appealed to me massively, so it is good to be here.”
So what was the massive appeal of the Cobblers?
“I spoke with the manager and his ambition matched mine,” said Bunney. “Obviously he wants to get to the next level, whether that be the Championship, or for this season staying in this league.
“His ambition and drive to sign me was rereshing.”
To an outsider, it may seem that Bunney is simply jumping out of the fire and into the frying as he has switched life with the team second bottom in Sky Bet League One, to the team fourth bottom.
But he believes he has moved to a club with greater potential.
That is outlined by the fact Bunney is the Cobblers’ sixth signing of the January transfer window to date, with more to come, and the player feels the future is bright with the Cobblers.
“I did look at the league positions, and I just felt that in the long term this was a better decision for me, ambition wise,” said the Manchester-born player, who is a big Manchester City supporter.
“To see Jimmy and the staff here, they obviously wanted to sign me, so it was a change for me, a fresh start and we’ll see how we can kick on from here.”
Bunney’s signing means there are now four left-backs in the Cobblers squad, with the new man joining Dave Buchanan, George Smith and Raheem Hanley, while another new face, Jordan Turnbull, played in the position in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Bradford City.
That means Bunney favces plenty of competition to force his way into the starting line-up, but he is happy to accept the challenge.
“There is competition for places wherever you go,” he said. “There was at Rochdale where I was playing games, but there is always some competition behind you and people keeping you on your toes.
“That is good for anybody, it brings the best out of you, and I am looking forward to it here.”
Bunney will be hoping to make his first Cobblers appearance in Saturday’s big league one clash against fellow strugglers Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday.
That is followed by a trip to high-flying Blackburn Rovers before another relegation six-pointer in the first weekend of February when Bunney’s former club Rochdale come to town.
It’s a testing run, but Bunney has been buoyed by Town’s recent upturn in form, and is looking forward to them.
“I looked at the fixtures when I spoke to Jimmy and decided I was going to come here,” said the full-back, who was a striker until a change of position at the start of last season.
“The first three are quite tough, with MK Dons being a local game, then a tough fixture at Blackburn, before obviously Rochdale come here, which will be difficult one.
“But we will try and take everything in our stride. We are on a bit of a run with two consecutive wins, so we’ll see where we go.”
And on that date with Dale?
“Rochdale has been home for five years, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me, and giving me my chance to be a professional footballer,” said Bunney.
“It will be difficult to play against them, mentally wise, but I am here now, I am playing for Northampton, and I have a job to do, and that’s what has to be done.”