Cobblers boss Rob Page admits he ‘is hurting’, and has asked the club’s supporters to show patience as he and his players try to arrest the current slump in form.
Town travel to bitter rivals Oxford United on Boxing Day (ko 3pm) on the back of five defeats in their past six Sky Bet League One matches, with a 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Stourbridge adding to the downbeat atmosphere around Sixfields.
Page has come in for criticism from sections of the club’s support, but was backed this week by chairman Kelvin Thomas, who says he has confidence in the club’s management team, and that the squad spirit at Sixfields is as strong as ever.
The Town boss is gearing his players up for a tough festive period, as following the Oxford trip they travel to high-flying Sheffield United on December 31, and then host promotion-chasing Bradford City on January 2, but says he is the right man for the job.
And he says ensuring the Cobblers establish themselves as a league one club is not something that can be done overnight.
“I am hurting, because I haven’t come here to lose games of football,” said Page, who took over from Chris Wilder in May. “I am here because I am ambitious, and I want to take this club to the next level.
As I have said there is no magic pill, you have to get back out on the training ground and work hard, you have to get the basics right, and it will turn. We have enough quality in that teamCobblers boss Rob Page
“I don’t like the results we are having at the minute, that’s why we are in all this week and working at it to put it right.
“We do have to be patient, it is a work in progress and we knew that straight away.”
Page then highlighted the job being done by Neal Ardley and AFC Wimbledon, and how much time he has been given in his job.
“People will be looking at AFC Wimbledon, and what they have done and what their manager has done,” said Page.
“Well I would think he is probably the third or fourth longest serving manager in League football, and that has been a work in progress there, it didn’t happen overnight for him.
“That’s what I would say to the supporters as well.
“We are in this division, we have earned the right to be in this division, but now we have to build and make sure we establish ourselves and stay in this division, and then build again to push on and get out of this division.
“It hasn’t happened overnight at Wimbledon, it has been four or five years’ work for the manager, and it is not always going to go our way.
“We are having a blip and it is how we react to it.
“It is about how we get to January and recruit, that will be important, and then we build from there.”
Page is in his third season as a league one manager, as he also enjoyed two seasons at the helm at Port Vale.
At Vale Park Page suffered a couple of similar spells where his team suffered lengthy losing runs, and he believes the Cobblers’ fortunes will change.
“It doesn’t get any easier, and it is never nice when you are losing games,” said Page when asked if his experiences at Vale will help him through this spell.
“But as I have said there is no magic pill, you have to get back out on the training ground and work hard, you have to get the basics right, and it will turn.
“We have enough quality in that team.
“It is the same team that found itself fifth in this division a few weeks ago, and we are not a million miles off it.
“Last Saturday against Rochdale was probably the most disappointed I have been with our performance, and whether that was because of confidence off the back of Tuesday’s defeat (at Stourbridge) I don’t know.
“Confidence may have had an impact on the players, because they weren’t brave enough on the ball.
“But we will get that confidence back, and there is no better time to do it than against the so-called better teams in the division.
“We see the next few weeks as a great opportunity.”