On the Case... a look back on the sporting weekend with Jeremy Casey

So, Cobblers fans... is your glass half full or half empty today?

Monday, 30th September 2019, 12:50 pm
Jordan Turnbull scored twice for the Cobblers at Morecambe, but was left frustrated as the match ended 2-2

Is Keith Curle doing a good job? Has the manager got the team heading in the right direction?

Or is it a case of the same old, same old, and that the Cobblers are going nowhere fast?

There is no doubt that the fanbase is pretty split over the progess being made at the PTS Academy Stadium.

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Northants head coach David Ripley

Those who think things are on the up will point to the team's current four-match unbeaten run.

They will point to the fact the team is playing much more entertaining football than any Town team since the Chris Wilder glory years.

They will point to the fact the Cobblers are scoring goals, and the eye-opening stat unearthed by my colleague James Heneghan this week that the team has spent more time in the lead this season, than any other side in Sky Bet League Two - and by a long way too.

Those fans with a positive slant on things will point to the fact the Cobblers are only three points off the play-offs, and six off the top three, with less than a quarter of the season played.

The Ladies Marathon in the World Championships in Qatar was staged at midnight

But not all Cobblers fans are feeling that positivity, and for whatever reason, there are lot who are yet to be convinced that Curle, who celebrates a year in the job this week, is the right man for the job.

Those who are staring at a half empty glass of their favourite tipple will mainly point to what they deem to be the manager's safety first, negative approach.

The past two games have seen the Cobblers leading 2-0 going into the final quarter, and they have found a way to squander those commanding positions, drawing 2-2 with both Crawley Town and Morecambe.

Curle insists the team's tendency to sit back and hold on to what they have does not come from him, that he wants the team to continue to attack and to 'get on the front foot'.

But it has to be pointed out that some of the substitutions he makes do fly in the face of that argument.

As an example, at Bradford earlier this month, Town were leading 1-0 and under increasing pressure.

Curle's response was to take off both Nicky Adams and Matty Warburton, as well as striker Andy Williams, and bring on an extra central defender with the team still leading, and he then bemoaned the fact his team couldn't retain possession up the pitch as the Cobblers conceded two late goals to lose.

Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, and no manager makes changes to ensure his team throw away leads to draw or lose a game, why on earth would they ever do that?

But Town's habit of conceding late to throw away points is becoming a worrying trend that needs to be halted.

And it is the manager's job to find the solution to that.

Those who don't think Curle is the right man will see the Cobblers' 13th place in the league two table as not good enough, that with the summer's substantial investment and overhaul of the squad they should be doing better.

So, who is right? The positive posse or the gloomy group?

Only time will tell of course, but I for one am still in the optimistic camp.

It hasn't been a perfect, seamless start to the season, but I think there is plenty to be encouraged about.

The football that has been served up has been a big improvement on recent seasons, there are some exciting players in the squad, and I think this team is not far away from clicking into top gear.

I could be wrong of course - I very often am - but for now, that glass sitting in front of me is still looking pretty full.

Huge congratulations to Northants on their promotion to the Specsavers County Championship Division One.

David Ripley's men's elevation was confirmed when division two rivals Glamorgan's clash at Durham was abandoned as a draw last Thursday, leaving the County and hosts Gloucestershire to celebrate claiming the final two promotion slots for finishing second and third respectively.

It has been a remarkable turnaround and a remarkable second half of the season for Northants.

Adam Rossington took over as skipper from Alex Wakely in June, with the team without a red-ball win and bottom of the division two table.

He oversaw a dramatic shift in results, and a run of five wins from their final seven matches sealed the runners-up spot behind Lancashire.

So the County can now start preparing for their first season in the top flight since 2014, when they were relegated without winning a game - indeed, they lost 12 of their 16 matches.

Ripley has already stated that he is confident he has the squad to compete better than that next year, but it is also down to the powers-that-be at the club to back a coach who has regularly worked miracles for them since he has been in the job, whether it be red or white ball cricket.

Extra quality is needed to bolster a competitive squad if the County are to hold their own at the top table of English cricket, and the acquisition this week of Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf is a very encouraging start.

Ripley will know exactly what is required, and will have the players in mind to do the job, and although I would not want the club to start splashing the cash irresponsibly, it is crucial that the Northants board do all they can to back their man.

Ripley and his players have worked so hard to earn their place among the elite, now they just need that extra support to help them stay there.

There were deeply concerning scenes at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in Qatar at the weekend.

The ladies' Marathon was held on Saturday, and despite the fact the race started at midnight, nearly half of the runners failed to finish due to the 32c temperatures and high humidity.

As early as the 10km mark, runners were dropping out, and in all, 28 of the 68 starters didn't finish the course.

There has been no such issue for the track and field events as the Khalifa International Stadium is air conditioned, but with the World Cup due to be staged in the country in 2022, it will be a concern for all the nations set to compete.

The tournament is going to be played in November and December, so temperatures won't be as high, but it will still be pretty toasty!

Again, the World Cup matches will be okay as all of the stadia will be air conditioned, but what is going to happen for training?

I can't imagine all of the training bases are going to be air conditioned, so what will happen? Are the players going to have to train at midnight? Or at 5am?

This is just another reason why it is nonsense that the World Cup is being staged in Qatar...