Cobblers' mentality '˜must change' as Page seeks answers to poor form

Rob Page believes his players must change their mentality if they are to turn around their dismal run of form, with the Cobblers boss prepared to accept any criticism which comes his way.

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017, 6:29 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:02 pm
PROBLEMS MOUNTING: Rob Page has work to do to turn around his side's awful form. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

Northampton produced a woeful performance against Bradford City on Monday, despite Alex Revell heading them into a first-half lead, to suffer yet another defeat; their eighth in 10 games and fourth in a row at home.

All eight of those defeats have come by the odd goal, most conceded in the late five minutes of games, but it’s the negative nature of many of the performances which have caused concern, particularly the latest one against Bradford.

That has frustrated Cobblers fans who let their feelings known on Monday by chanting ‘attack, attack, attack’ at times during the 90 minutes before greeting the full-time whistle with loud boos.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Page understands and shares their frustration but also insists the passive nature of his side’s performances is not a deliberate ploy.

“Of course I can understand it,” he said. “That’s my frustration as well.

“We don’t work on that all week. We don’t have a game plan of taking the lead and then camping on the edge of our box.

“The game plan doesn’t change - we still want to get the second goal.

“Perhaps our players are too honest and too willing to go back and help the defence, and the flip side of that is when we clear our lines, it keeps coming back because we don’t have the bodies to get us up the pitch.

“We’ll address it, we have done in the changing room, and we’ll work hard to put it right.

“We have to change our mentality. We’re at home and we should take the game to them. In the first-half I thought we did but second-half we didn’t.

“From the first minute of the second-half we invited pressure and we allowed (James) Hanson to make a difference and that’s what we’ve got to put right.”

There were more boos on Monday when Page opted to withdraw John-Joe O’Toole and introduce Jak McCourt midway through the second-half, a move which did little to halt Bradford’s momentum.

On his reasoning for that decision, Page explained: “We needed to keep the ball. John-Joe had a good game first-half, one of the best he’s had in a long while, but I didn’t see that from him in the second-half.

“He just sat on the edge of the box and we invited pressure. It wasn’t just him - Matty Taylor and as a back four we allowed it to happen.

“Having played in defence myself, when you clear the ball and it comes straight back to you, you can’t get up the pitch and you can’t squeeze up.

“I knew Jak would get on the ball and try to keep it for us. I put Greg (Wylde) in for his pace to be an outlet and he showed glimpses of it on the counter when he broke.

“But chances like that were too few and far between so it was a real disappointing afternoon.”

The reaction of fans inside Sixfields as well as those on social media suggest an increasing number have doubts over Page, whose side are now 16th in Sky Bet League One.

And the Town manager understands their anger and is prepared to accept any criticism.

“I’ll take the criticism from the supporters, no problem with that,” he said. “We’ve lost a home game that we were leading and that is hard to take.

“I took criticism during the game and I’ve got broad enough shoulders to take that. It hurts me as much as them, believe me.

“I’ve only been here since the summer and it is hurting when losing games of football. I hated it as a player and I hate it as a manager and we’ll work ever so hard to put it right.”

On Aaron Phillips’ injury, Page added: “Aaron has pulled his hamstring so we were forced into bringing Zander on and that’s disappointing because it’s two right-backs injured now.

“That’s an area now that we’ve got to address.”