Northampton’s tepid performance and deserved defeat to Rochdale on Saturday has given Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ‘a lot of things to think about’ as the Cobblers boss looks to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again in their bid to climb the table this season.
Four games unbeaten heading into the weekend, Town were strong favourites in the eyes of many as the entertained second-from-bottom Rochdale who hadn’t won a single league match on the road all season.
But that changed by 5pm after a dominant performance and well-deserved victory for the visitors who recorded only a second league win in three months thanks to Calvin Andrew’s second-half strike as he converted Matt Done’s left-wing cross eight minutes after half-time.
It was a deeply disappointing and curiously lethargic performance by the Cobblers who, despite being on a good run going into the game, barely troubled Dale goalkeeper Josh Lillis throughout the 90 minutes, with the defeat leaving them just one point above the Sky Bet League One bottom four.
It was particularly concerning how Rochdale nullified and snuffed out the threat of key man John-Joe O’Toole, which in turn seemed to significantly restrict Northampton in the final third as striker Chris Long became increasingly isolated and the team failed to create a single clear-cut chance from open play.
“We’re going to look at everything, analyse everything and see what to do,” admitted Hasselbaink, whose side are eight points above Rochdale but have played four more games.
“The performance was a total contrast to the past four games so we have to make sure it’s just a one-off and put it right next time.
“Richard (O’Donnell) was maybe the only one who did himself a little bit of justice and I think we have to look back at the game and why it went the way it did.
“We were a little bit off the pace and we might have to look at what we’ve done – have we done too much? So there’s a lot of things to think about and look at.
“We’ll look at the next game and focus on the things we need to do right.”
Look, it’s not important what other teams do. It’s important what we do and we need to concentrate on us and really make things better for us.
The Cobblers remain outside the relegation zone but the fact that so many rival teams have multiple games in hand, including MK Dons, Walsall, Rochdale, Blackpool and next opponents AFC Wimbledon, means Town cannot dwell on the disappointment of Saturday.
“Look, it’s not important what other teams do,” continued Hasselbaink. “It’s important what we do and we need to concentrate on us and really make things better for us.
“What the others do, they do. But if we keep improving and if we keep making us a force and winning games, then it doesn’t matter what other teams do.”
Saturday’s game was also notable for the debut of new signing Kevin van Veen, who had little joy during his second-half cameo, as well as a first Cobblers start for Hildeberto Pereira, who also struggled throughout.
“Pereira was so-so,” said Hasselbaink “I think he needed to play in a different position and the change didn’t help him and it didn’t help the team. We were all off it.
“It was very difficult for Kevin to come in and change the game, especially if we don’t keep the ball and don’t pass the ball well enough and I think that was a big problem for us.”