Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink knows he is going to have to manage his new Cobblers squad carefully as the team faces a hectic September schedule.
The Cobblers take on league two champions Portsmouth at Sixfields tonight (ko 7.45pm) in what is the second match in a run of nine in the space of 28 days.
The first saw Hasselbaink guide his team to their opening win of the season at the seventh attempt on Saturday, seeing off Doncaster Rovers 1-0, and the Dutchman is desperate to follow up that result with another positive one against Pompey.
But he accepts the games are now coming thick and fast, and that he is going to have to ‘clever’ with how he manages the workload of his players.
“In the next month we have nine games, so it is going to be a difficult one to work with the team,” said Hasselbaink, who only had four days training to assess his new players before the weekend win.
“We have to be really clever how we use our players, and that process starts straight away for the next game. There is no rest for the wicked, as you guys say in England!”
Saturday’s win over Rovers saw the Cobblers climb off the bottom of the Sky Bet League One table, and the manager admitted he was always confident the team could grab a result once he had seen the squad working in training.
To achieve the result he made a couple of significant tweaks to the team though, with the most obvious one the introduction of George Smith on the left of midfield.
With Chris Long operating on the opposite flank, that gave Town much needed width and pace, and that was key for Hasselbaink, who added that his players are also going to have to ‘get used to winning’ again .
“You always have to believe you can get something, and we had to change our approach a little bit,” said the former Burton Albion and Queens Park Rangers boss.
“I think it was very important we had some pace in the wide areas to give us an outlet and that is where the goal came from.
“I think it shocked them a little bit that they scored in the first minute, and then you have to manage your game.
“They need to get used to winning, and that is not easy, it is a process. The more we will be together, the more you can work on those things.”
One thing that did impress the Town boss was the work-rate and togetherness of his team, and he expects more of the same against Kenny Jackett’s Pompey on Tuesday.
“The win was the most important thing, but you also look at the performance of the team and how they play together, what they do, and what they are prepared to do for each other,” said Hasselbaink.
“And I must say that was second to none.
“But there is no time to rest and dwell on Saturday’s welcome win over Doncaster as we are facing a tough home game against Portsmouth.
“We got off to a great start on Saturday backed by fantastic support. Looking for more of the same.”