Former skipper Marc Richards believes Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is the right man to lead the Cobblers away from Sky Bet League One relegation danger this season.
The 35-year-old parted with Town earlier this week to sign an 18-month contract with league two promotion hopefuls Swindon Town, having been told by Hasselbaink that his first team chances at Sixfields would be limited.
Richards’ departure brought to an end a five-and-a-half-year association with the Cobblers over two spells, and although he admits he is disappointed he has had to move on, he believes the club is in safe hands with Hasselbaink.
He also reassured Town supporters that the spirit in the squad he has left behind is very good, and that the players are all pulling in the same direction as they try to work their way away from danger.
Asked if Hasselbaink will steer the team to safety, Richards said: “I think Jimmy is the right man.
“His detail in training is one of best I have worked with, his sessions are good, the lads work hard, and the lads are together which is the main thing.
Jimmy is the right man. His detail in training is one of best I have worked with, his sessions are good, the lads work hard, and the lads are together which is the main thing.Ex-Cobblers skipper Marc Richards
“If there was a split in the group then I would have my doubts about whether Northampton would survive, but I can safely say the lads are fully backing the manager.
“There are no cliques, there is no ‘me, me, me’ from anybody, it is all about the team.”
The team has also been boosted since the turn of the year by the arrival of six new players, and Richards says that those signings, along with the experience and quality players that are already at the club, will ensure things will turn out positively.
“I am confident Northampton will get out of trouble, knowing the players like I do, and the characters they have in the dressing room,” said Richards, speaking exclusively to the Chron.
“The team, and the squad as a whole, is in a false position and the level of inconsistency has been too much this season.
“But with the new players coming in, and the squad growing increasingly better, you just have to look at the people on the bench at the moment, the likes of Buchs (David Buchanan), Brendan Moloney, Alex Revell, players like that.
“They have a vast amount of experience at this level, so the manager has a bit of a headache now trying to keep players happy, but it is a good headache to have.
“I am pretty sure with results going the way they are, if they can just find that level of consistency, it will get them out of the bottom four.”
Richards is in line to make his Swindon debut this weekend when they travel to Coventry City.
The veteran striker admits joining a new club wasn’t the scenario he was anticipating as he entered the new year, but admits that moving on is all part of the job.
“It is part and parcel of football, and you have to have a thick skin,” said Richards, who scored 63 goals for the Cobblers in 145 starts and 65 substitute appearances.
“Sometimes these things happen, and all good things must come to an end, and I am just pleased to have been a part of what has gone on over the past four seasons.
“I am disappointed to leave, but a fresh challenge might do me good.”
Town boss Hasselbaink this week went on the record to thank Richards for his service to the club, and hinted there could even be a return down the line for him in a coaching capacity.
Is that something Richards would be interested in?
“Never say never! The coaching route is something I am looking to go down, and I think my experience in the game would help youngsters, or players in any team,” said the Wolverhampton-born front man.
“Going back to Northampton would be the ideal scenario for myself, but who knows what is going to happen in 18 months’ time, whether Jimmy will be about, or whether he will have moved on. How long is a piece of string?
“It is something I would like to do in the future, and fingers cross that might come off.”
Look out for our exclusive interview with Marc Richards, discussing his long and successful career with the Cobblers, only at northamptonchron.co.uk