Chris Wilder admits the ‘crisis management’ he was forced to undertake at the Cobblers prepared him for his Sheffield United revolution.
The 51-year-old memorably guided Town to the Sky Bet League Two title in 2015/16, against the backdrop of the club almost going out of business.
Wilder, his management team, the players and club staff all went months without pay as Town went close to going into the abyss.
Despite those dark days from September to November, 2015, the team performed brilliantly on the pitch as they laid the foundations for the post-Christmas title charge following Kelvin Thomas’s takeover of the club.
It was a case of players, staff, management and fans all pulling together in a time of turmoil, and Wilder admits that ‘connection’ was something special.
And something he learned from.
“It was sort of crisis management,” said Wilder, speaking to the Chron ahead of returning to Sixfields with his Blades team for a pre-season friendly on Saturday (ko 3pm).
“You always want it to be nice and calm, but through periods of crisis you do learn a lot about your methods and the people you work with, and the players as well. From my point of view, I definitely learned a lot through that period.
And Wilder says he called on his Cobblers experience when he took over at Bramall Lane.
United are currently preparing for life back in the Premier League following their promotion from the Championship in May.
Times are good in the red and white half of the Steel City, but it wasn’t always so rosy.
When Wilder took on the challenge of managing the club he has supported all of his life, they had been languishing in the third tier of English football for six years.
Wilder went in and has transformed the club, winning the league one title at his first attempt, and then getting promoted to the top flight after just two seasons in the Championship.
He has done a remarkable job, and Wilder admits the experience of his time at Sixfields was key to how he handled life back in south Yorkshire.
“It was the way the club connected, and I have always tried to do that wherever I have been, but there was a certain connection at Northampton,” said Wilder.
“It was the staff, the players, the fans, the people around the ground, and I think everybody appreciated it and really enjoyed that time.
“One of the first things I did when I came back to Sheffield United was look at that, and I realised how disconnected the club was.
“The players hated the supporters, the supporters hated the staff, the staff hated somebody else, and every part of the club, the four or five major parts of the club, were all pulling in different directions.
“The lesson from my time at Northampton was, that if you do get everyone pulling in the right direction and everbody is on the same page, then good things can happen.”
Wilder is looking forward to returning to the Cobblers on Saturday, and saying hello to plenty of familiar faces.
One of those he knows so well will be Nicky Adams, who has returned to Town after he too left the club in the wake of that title win.
And Wilder believes Keith Curle’s decision to re-sign Adams could be a masterstroke, saying: “Nicky is brilliant, and he’s a lad who isn’t shy to tell everyone how good he is!
“He has a bit about him, and he played a key part in that promotion season, he was great for us.
“You need that sort of character, and in that period we had those guys.
“We not only had tremendous footballers, but really good personalities as well, and that’s not just the boys that played.
“I go back to J-Bo (Jason Taylor) and other players like that, it was a really good group.
“Nicky was part of that and his record speaks for itself, with the promotions he has had, and the fact he has been part of those teams says a lot about what he is like and his influence on those teams he has got promoted with.