FEATURE: Excited Austin sets out his survival plan as he backs Cobblers to ‘do something extraordinary’

IN CHARGE: Dean Austin has taken over from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
IN CHARGE: Dean Austin has taken over from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

When Dean Austin talks about the attributes he values highly and how he sees his Cobblers team playing, the words ‘desire’ and ‘energy’ feature prominently, but his main focus is on positive thinking even when fighting relegation.

Northampton’s caretaker boss has never previously been a manager in his own right, at least not at senior level at a league club, but he nonetheless seems to have a clear idea of the direction he wants to go in and what he demands from his players.

And while he may not have the experience of being the sole man in charge – bar a brief spell in the Conference South in 2004 – he does know what it takes to succeed at the highest level having made over 150 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, who paid nearly half a million pounds for his services, between 1992-1998 before spending four years at Crystal Palace.

A defender in his playing days, Austin has spent the past 15 years coaching at various levels. He was instrumental in the success of Southend United when they won successive promotions 12 years ago and then assisted Slaviša Jokanović’s Watford to the Premier League in 2015.

And now having worked under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for the past seven months at Sixfields, he has the opportunity to show what he can do for five games, and even in the desperate situation Northampton currently find themselves in, Austin is determined to remain upbeat.

“I’ve told Jon (Brady) and Andy Melville exactly how I want to work and how I want to do it and I’ve said to them to bear with me for the next few weeks because obviously there’s a lot to get through and I want to get my ideas over to the team,” he explained in his first press conference.

If I didn’t think we were capable of doing something extraordinary, I wouldn’t have accepted the challenge and I really, honestly believe in this group of players and they have the potential to do something.

“I don’t want to give too much away because we have a big game on Tuesday but because of the negative run we’ve been on and then it ending with Jimmy losing his job, the players are a bit low.

“I’ve just tried to re-energise them a little bit and that’s one of the things we’re really working on. Although it’s very difficult with the situation we’re in, I want to see people in the morning with smiles on their faces.

“I don’t want doom and gloom and I don’t want negativity and negative people around me.

“We’ve had a bit of a chat with the players and I’ve shown them a little bit of a presentation I put together.

“I’ve told them what I am and what I’m about and also what myself and the staff expect back from them - and what the supporters expect as well.”

When Hasselbaink was dismissed in the aftermath of Easter Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Peterborough United, chairman Kelvin Thomas placed Austin in temporary charge, assisted by U18s manager Jon Brady.

Between them, they have five games to pick up at least three, likely four, wins to keep the Cobblers in Sky Bet League One, and considering they haven’t won a match of any kind in two months, that’s some task.

“The club asked me because I was the number two and felt that I could bring something different and that’s just the way it works,” added Austin.

“I know the players and under Jimmy I was constantly trying to have chats with them all the time and have an open dialogue to see what they were thinking and get an extra per cent out of them all the time to try and get us winning football matches, which is what it’s all about at the end of the day.”

Austin’s first game in charge will come on Tuesday evening when he takes Northampton to Bloomfield Road to face Blackpool, who look all but safe after thumping Bradford City 5-0 on Saturday.

“I’ll be nervous before the game but I’ll be excited,” continued the 47-year-old. “It’ll be a nervous excitement.

“It’s obviously not an ideal situation to come into but I wouldn’t have got the job if the club wasn’t in the mess we’re in.

“All I can say is about myself and if you speak to anyone who knows me they’ll tell you the type of person I am and the type of player that I was.

“I wasn’t very good but I had a lot of heart, a lot of desire, a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm so I’m trying to portray some of my energy and belief into the players.

“With that, and along with some of my coaching ability, hopefully I can get something out of the players because we need something extraordinary, let’s not beat around the bush.

“But, if I didn’t think we were capable of doing something extraordinary, I wouldn’t have accepted the challenge and I really, honestly believe in this group of players and they have the potential to do something.”