As transfer deadline days go, that was a busy one!
In recent seasons, the Cobblers have been a club that has done most of its business in good time, with deadline day itself usually pretty quiet.
That certainly wasn’t the case on Thursday.
On the face of it, Town making two loan signings from league one clubs doesn’t sound that enthralling or exciting, but the final tally of players in through the door doesn’t tell the full story.
Because throughout the day, the club were in discussions with a string of clubs and players, with some of those deals not quite getting over the line.
At various times they were close to signing player x and player y, before those talks stalled for whatever reason, and we moved on to player z, as well as a, b and c!
From first thing in the morning, my colleagues in the media and I were primed for activity, ready to break the news.
We were told to keep the phone close at hand and the laptop open, to be ready to go, but as the minutes and hours ticked by, they didn’t quite happen.
It became clear by mid-afternoon that we were going to be on duty long into the evening.
But it was was still a surprise the deals Town did get through happened so late in the day, with defender Charlie Goode being confirmed not long before 8pm.
But that he was an early bird compared to the loan landing of Marvin Sordell, who didn’t even arrive at the PTS to sign the contract until 10.45pm!
Not since Emile Sinclair was signed just five minutes before the close of the window back in 2014 have the Cobblers cut things so fine as they did with the capture of Sordell, but it was worth it in the end.
It meant I could finally turn my laptop off and call it a day at 11.45pm, but more importantly it meant it was a very satisfying end to the day for Keith Curle.
The Town boss spoke after the 1-1 draw with Morecambe last weekend of needing an attacking focal point for the team, and Sordell, a former England Under-21 international, ticks that box.
He also spoke of getting in ‘experience in key areas’, and although Goode is hardly a gnarled veteran, he does have four years of experence of plying his trade in league one, making 75 appearaces for the Iron, 25 of them this season.
In an ideal world, Curle wanted more, but he will be happy with his business on deadline day, and also the window as a whole.
Some supporters are concerned the Cobblers boss has only made loan signings, and that is understandable after the failure of such moves in recent seasons, but I can confirm Curle and the club did try to make permanent signings, with cash bids made for at least two players.
Those signings didn’t happen in the end, but Curle has made no secret of the fact that he wasn’t going to gamble with the club’s money, that he wasn’t going to pay over the odds for any player.
So he didn’t.
Curle has called his January business ‘housekeeping’, and he has certainly lessened the wage burden on the club having offloaded high earners Kevin van Veen and Matt Crooks, as well as allowing four other players to leave.
Those decisions led to fears among sections of the fans that the club was having something of a fire sale, that there are cashflow issues.
But I don’t believe that to be the case, and I am sure the club is still on a very sound financial footing under Kelvin Thomas and the board.
Yes, there has been a realignment and adjustment in the budget due to the loss of the Chinese cash input of 5USport, but Curle has confirmed he still has ‘a very healthy budget’ in league two.
And why would he lie about that?
The Town boss is more than happy with the budget he has been given, and in reality he is looking at the bigger picture, as he knows that in the summer he will have the opportunity to really get the squad together that he wants.
He has spoken of having to work with the pieces of somebody else’s jigsaw since taking over from Dean Austin, and it’s the regular changing of managers in recent seasons that has led to what Curle believes is an imbalanced squad.
The current group of players includes permanent signings made by Wilder, Rob Page, Justin Edinbrugh, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Austin.
They all had their own plans and their own ideas of how to take the club forward, but, Wilder aside, they never got the chance to implement them as they lost their jobs after a matter of months.
That has left the club with a mish-mash of a squad that lacks any identity and lacks balance.
Well, after his business over the past five weeks and his decision not to add permanent signings of his own just yet, Curle knows he will be able to create his own puzzle to piece together and complete.
Several members of the current squad will be out of contract at the end of the season, and that means Curle will be able to pick and choose which ones fit into his masterplan.
Players of other clubs he has his eye on will also be out of contract, or will be available at a better price than they were in the January window, a time when clubs always try and squeeze more money out of desperate buyers.
There will now be a lot of flexibility for Curle come the close season, and the manager will be able to really put his stamp on the squad, building a team in his own image.
Giving the club and team an identity it has lacked since Wilder left in the summer of 2016.
The only way we will be able to judge if this has been a good transfer window or not is by what happens on the pitch over the next three months, and there are no guarantees.
This time last year everybody was buzzing after Hasselbaink’s flurry of signings, with money being paid for van Veen, Shay Facey and Joe Bunney, others coming in on free transfers, and a clutch of loan deals as well.
But we all know how that ended up - in relegation to league two.
So there is no magic formula, and my gut feeling is that Curle has done decent business in January.
The 26-strong squad (listed below) still looks more than healthy, especially if the likes of Sam Foley, John-Joe O’Toole and Shaun McWilliams quickly regain fitness, and the team should have more than enough to play itself away from relegation danger.
If they can do that, then Curle knows he can really get down to work on putting together that jigsaw of his very own in the summer.
Cobblers January transfer window business
Ins: George Cox, Joe Powell, Timi Elsnik, Charlie Goode, Marvin Sordell (all loans)
Outs: Kevin van Veen (sold to Scunthorpe), Matt Crooks (sold to Rotherham), Yaser Kasim (contract terminated), Lewis Ward (loan cancelled), Billy Waters (loaned to Cheltenham), Hakeem Odoffin (free transfer to Livingston)
Current Cobblers squad
Goalkeepers: David Cornell, Luke Coddington, James Goff
Defenders: Shay Facey, David Buchanan, Jordan Turnbull, Ash Taylor, Aaron Pierre, Jay Williams, Camron McWilliams, Charlie Goode, George Cox
Midfielders: Shaun McWilliams, Sam Foley, John-Joe O’Toole, Jack Bridge, Joe Powell, Timi Elsnik, Morgan Roberts, Scott Pollock
Attackers/strikers: Junior Morias, Andy Williams, Marvin Sordell, Daniel Powell, Sam Hoskins, Dean Bowditch
Out on loan: Joe Iaciofano, Sean Whaler