Justin Edinburgh is under no illusions. As manager of a team who have floundered and stumbled their way to safety this season, he is all too aware of the major rebuilding job he has on his hands over the next few months.
If ever there was a game and result that highlighted the shortcomings in Edinburgh’s squad and left him in no doubt as to the overhaul that is required, Saturday’s error-strewn and seriously out-of-sorts display against Bury at Gigg Lane was it.
After below-par showings against Millwall and Shrewsbury in their previous two outings, Northampton once again toiled and struggled on Saturday, right from the moment of James Vaughan’s third-minute opener which set the tone for a torrid afternoon.
Vaughan, now up to 24 for the season, is the last person you want to gift a clear sight of goal to and he duly capitalised on static, hesitant defending before George Miller did likewise in the second-half.
Even in the intervening period between those goals, when the Cobblers bossed most of the play, Shakers goalkeeper Joe Murphy was only once brought into strenuous action – and that from a set-piece – as the visitors lacked fluency and creativity.
It was conclusive proof, if it was needed, that this summer’s transfer business will prove absolutely crucial in Edinburgh’s attempts to transform the Cobblers from relegation battlers to stable League One club.
“We’ll get through to the summer now and we have to make sure the recruitment we bring in produces better performances over the full duration of the season and not for glimpses and that’s the job we have on our hands,” admitted the Town boss.
“There’s huge amounts to do. I wouldn’t have been brought here if this club didn’t need changes.
“I had to buck a trend after nine defeats in 11 games and it doesn’t happen instantly.
“I think we got there and got a good run together and I think we’ve been hurt by injuries and suspensions over the last couple of weeks.
We’ll get through to the summer now and we have to make sure the recruitment we bring in produces better performances over the full duration of the season and not for glimpses and that’s the job we have on our hands.Justin Edinburgh
“Would that be my team (against Bury) if I had everyone fit? No. So we’ve been weakened in the last couple of weeks but that’s no excuse.
“There are certainly changes to be made and they will be made. Some will come, some will stay and a lot will go.
“Then, when we come back for the summer, I can put my own stamp on it and move the club forward and make sure we’re not in this position next year.”
As an experienced campaigner and a veteran of 13 clubs, Alex Revell has seen plenty during his 16-year career and he too admits the Cobblers have no option but to improve for what will surely be a tougher, more competitive division next season.
He commented: “Like the manager said there’s going to be people at the end of the season going back to their clubs or out of contract and the gaffer’s got to make decisions because this year was tough but next year’s League One is going to be tougher.
“We need to be ready and performances like the one at Bury are going to stick in the gaffer’s mind and he’ll know full well we need to improve.
“We’ve put in performances like Saturday and that’s not down to the gaffer – that’s down to us when we go on the pitch.
“This year we’ve stayed up but we’ve stayed up because unfortunately other people have lost, whereas we wanted to win and finish on a positive.
“It’s great that we’re here for another year but we don’t want to be thinking like that, not with the players that we have in the squad.
“We have to improve and everyone needs to go back and have a look at how they performed this year and try to improve for next season.”
Revell’s own Sixfields future should be relatively secure having signed a two-year deal last summer but that is a rarity in the context of Northampton’s current squad with many players unlikely to be around next season.
“Pressure’s not nice,” added the striker. “There are a lot of players out of contract and sometimes you try a bit too hard but I think the lads who are out of contract this year, most of them have performed well throughout the whole season if I’m completely honest.
“But it’s down to gaffer – even if you’ve played well you might not be the one he wants to keep.
“But when you do play you’ve got to put it into the gaffer’s mind that you want to be here and you want to play and you have to play well.
“Losing 3-0 to a team fighting for their lives doesn’t look good on the lads.
“The manager’s going to want his own players and he’ll want to put his own stamp on it.
“He’ll have a pre-season and work with new players to get to get to the standard we need to be at.”