Cobblers assistant manager Alan Knill admits John-Joe O’Toole is a one of a kind – and is delighted the club’s supporters have done ‘everything they can to help him’.
Town fans will travel to Mansfield this weekend in special O’Toole-themed fancy dress – mainly wigs and headbands – to pay tribute to the recent good form of the unique midfielder.
O’Toole struggled for form and fitness when he first arrived at Northampton and was even sent out on loan to Southend in November with his career in claret and white seemingly over before it had barely begun.
But he has turned his form around and Knill feels the supporters have shown a patience with the player which might not have been present at other clubs.
“We haven’t got enough time to talk about what a character he is, but things like this can only be positive,” he said.
“It was a difficult start for him because he came here with great expectations and having had a fantastic season at Bristol Rovers.
“He really never got going and and so we sent him out on loan; he looks a far better player for that experience.
“I’ve been at clubs where supporters haven’t gone that way with a player, but here they recognise that he’s a big signing and with a lot of expectation on him.
“They’re doing everything they possibly can to help him which is refreshing really.
“It’s up to him now to do it on the pitch but he looks like he’s enjoying his football a lot more now.
“So, really, it’s a big thank you to the supporters for embracing him and recognising that this player needs help.
“They’ve done everything they possibly can to help him. Now it’s up to him to take that and put it into his performances on the pitch.”
Knill feels the club are now getting the best out of a player who has proved a challenge to coach, at least in his first few months as a Cobbler.
The 26-year-old stands out from the footballing crowd not just because of his hair but for several other reasons, as Knill explains.
“The fans have got some dressing up to do if they’re going to the game dressed like him,” he said.
“You want to see some of the stuff he turns up in.
“I think it’s great. He’s come back really strong and he’s definitely a character and a bit of a maverick.
“He takes his guitar on overnight trips and the other day he was reading Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ autobiography.
“The bottom line is we hope it’s going to be John-Joe O’Toole day on the pitch as well as off it.”