If Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had the weight of the world on his shoulders after last Saturday’s Sixfields horror show, he was shouldering it well.
The Cobblers boss donned a broad smile as he welcomed the media to his club’s Moulton College training base this week.
After aplogising sincerely for the session running late, Hasselbaink proceeded to field a plethora of questions with trademark enthusiasm.
Recognising the need for carrot and stick, he called on his players to ‘stand up and be counted’ against AFC Wimbledon in another Sixfields date this Saturday while expressing his ‘love’ for the squad he inherited from Justin Edinburgh in September.
Hasselbaink knows adding to the negativity that surrounds the situation after last Saturday’s 6-0 home humbling at the hands of Bristol Rovers would be counter-productive.
And instead, he opted for a balance in the way he reflected on last weekend and looked ahead to the challenge of AFC Wimbledon.
“It was a difficult few days, especially the evening after the event,” Hasselbaink said.
“Sunday was certainly not easy.
“We had good sessions earlier in this week, we spoke together and it’s important that we are truthful with each other in knowing there is a lot of work to be done.
“I hope this is when I see the character. It’s a difficult moment.”
But Hasselbaink, who has seen his side fail to win any of their past seven games in all competitions, failing to score in the past five league matches, knows it is not just his players who have been questioned since the Bristol Rovers battering.
“It’s for us all to step up,” he added. “The performance was not acceptable.
“I’ve always been very positive since I’ve been here because the performances were good, even if we lost, but last Saturday’s performance was not us and the way I want to go forward.
“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.
“You have to take responsiblity and I take responsilibility.
“For the fans who came to support us, that’s not good enough and they don’t deserve that.
“We need to stand up and be counted and see and show that we care and that we want to put this right for the whole season.
“Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done, but we need to go back to how we were when I came in.
And of the threat this Saturday’s equally out-of-form opponents will pose, Hasselbaink said: “Wimbledon do play good football and try to put the ball down and pass, but we have to look at us.”