Disappointing run of form won't see Cobblers boss Page panicking
Rob Page will be doing a lot of serious thinking and head scratching as he prepares the Cobblers for Saturday's Sky Bet League One trip to rock-bottom Shrewsbury Town - but one thing he insists he won't be doing is panicking.
The Welshman is in the midst of his first serious blip as Town boss, with Tuesday night’s 3-0 derby hammering at the hands of Peterborough United completing what has been a concerning few weeks.
The 1-1 draw at leaders Scunthorpe United on October 8 proved to be the exception in a 17-day spell that saw the Cobblers lose three games, to Bristol Rovers, Millwall and Posh - conceding three goals on each occasion.
The loss at London Road was a particularly painful experience, bordering on humiliation for the 2,200 travelling supporters, plenty of whom let the manager and players know what they thought by booing their team off.
But Page will shrug that off, and he will expect his players to as well.
The Cobblers are without a win in five, and have slipped from a lofty fourth place to a still respectable 12th, but the gap between Page’s men and the bottom four has now been reduced to just three points.
The fact Town are also still three points off the top six and play-offs shows just how tight league one has been so far this season, and Page expects that to continue.
The Cobblers boss has been through the league one mill before, guiding Port Vale to mid-table security in the past two seasons.
During that time he suffered a series of spells where his team failed to win for six of seven games, and he says that experience has taught him how to handle the ups and downs of management, and the pressure that goes with it.
“Sometimes you go through spells like this in the season, where things don’t quite go for you, or a lapse in concentration will cost you,” said Page.
“It is important we keep doing the right things, we keep working, and it’s important the work we do isn’t different to when we were having a good spell.
“Inevitably we will come out of it, and we will be better for having had this experience.
“Some of the supporters won’t believe us now because we are still hurting after the defeat to Peterborough, but we have to keep doing what we are doing on the training pitch, we have to keep working hard, and we will come out the other side and start to win games.”
And he pointed out the Cobblers won’t be alone in going through rocky patches this season.
“Everybody goes through what we are going through at the minute, everybody,” said the Cobblers boss.
“Look at Bury, Dave Flitcroft wins manager of the month and then suffers five defeats on the bounce.
“Every team, look at Charlton, Sheffield United at the start of the season and now they have come into a rich vein of form and are up at the top.
“Look at Bolton and if they hadn’t have had the start to the season they had, they wouldn’t have been up there when they had their bad run, although they have now picked up again.
“Every team will have this kind of spell, and we are having ours now.
“We now have to stay focused on what we are all about and the tide will turn.”
The Cobblers are currently struggling to win games, but Page says he is a manager that stays on an even keel emotionally.
“The performance coach (John Harbin) is always reminding me: ‘Flatline’,” said Page.
“You don’t get too carried away with the wins, and you don’t beat yourself up too much over the defeats.
“It is how you manage the defeats that matters, and even the best managers in the world, who have the highest percentage win rates, they lose games.
“It is how they deal with the lossses and bounce back the week after or four days later that counts, and that is what we intend to do.”