If the aim of Regan Poole’s loan spell was for him to gain exposure to the cut-throat, pressurised environment of professional football, he’s come to the right club.
The glitz and glamour of the Premier League must feel a world away for the on-loan Manchester United teenager as he and the Cobblers continue to toil at the bottom of Sky Bet League One after enduring yet another torrid and forgettable evening, this time at Plymouth Argyle.
This was not the way it was supposed to be.
After signing all those exciting names in the summer, including Poole, the days of relegation battles and poor performances were meant to be in the past.
Sadly, it’s not as simple as that and following another dismal display and result at the home of second-bottom Plymouth on Tuesday, when two slack pieces of defending and a toothless attacking showing cost them again, the situation remains bleak.
“We weren’t good enough, it’s as simple as that, and we weren’t good enough the other day in the 3-0 defeat and everybody knows that,” admitted Poole.
It doesn’t really matter what position you’re in. If we get a few results and start playing a bit better then I’m happy to play there or wherever the manager wants me to playCobblers midfielder Regan Poole
“Overall this season, we’ve been pretty good at set-pieces and we haven’t conceded many goals at all so that’s the disappointing thing about it.
“It’s a bit different if the goals come from open play but they didn’t have many chances from open play and they had two set-pieces and made them count.
“We came out in the second-half and got our foot on the ball a bit more and then they scored again, from another free-kick, that killed us.
“After that, we tried pushing and tried pushing but it was tough then.”
In many ways, Poole is the embodiment of Northampton’s current problems.
The 19-year-old is clearly a fine player, the fact he’s on loan from a club of United’s stature is proof of that, but the Cobblers boast many fine players and yet, as a collective, they remain unable to translate that individual quality into consistent team performances.
The teenager, reinstated into midfield for the long trip to Devon, was tasked with filling the void left by John-Joe O’Toole as Town sought to bounce back from Saturday’s second-half collapse.
But Sonny Bradley put paid to that. He escaped Poole to nod in the opener before holding off Aaron Pierre to do likewise early in the second-half, and with Town missing their only two decent chances, Pierre and Chris Long the culprits, defeat was inevitable.
“When you’re in a dip of form you need a bit of luck to fall your way and we didn’t have that,” added Poole. “If Aaron’s header goes in it’s 1-1 and we come out for the second-half with a completely different mindset.
“It’s never nice to lose, everybody knows that, and Saturday was quite a horrible defeat but you’ve got to put it behind you and go again.
“We tried to do that but we weren’t good enough and the result showed that.”
Despite Tuesday, Poole is one player to have emerged with credit for his displays so far this season.
Naturally a centre-back, his combative and tenacious style in midfield has been a feature of many of Northampton’s better performances.
“Playing in midfield is a little bit different for me,” he said. “I played there for Wales in the summer and I quite enjoyed it and played quite well.
“I seem to have stayed there since. Everyone knows I’m naturally a centre-half and that’s where I want to play but I don’t mind playing central midfield.
“I enjoy the role and if you’re playing well, it doesn’t really matter what position you’re in. If we get a few results and start playing a bit better then I’m happy to play there or wherever the manager wants me to play.”
The bottom of league one is a long way from the top of the Premier League, but Poole is an ambitious young player and hopes his loan spell at Sixfields will go a long way to fulfilling his dream.
He continued: “If you go on loan, your aim is always to do your best for the club you’re at and then when you go back, try to get back into that first-team.
“It’s obviously tough. It’s Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in the world, but it’s my dream to play for them and I want to do it week in, week out and that’s the aim and always has been.”