Dean Austin says he is revelling in the pressure of being the Cobblers boss and believes he will get things right in the job he loves.
Handed the Town post on a permanent basis in the summer following a short caretaker stint at the end of last season, the new campaign hasn’t quite got off to the start Austin was hoping it would.
Nine games in, the Cobblers have won just once and have failed to claim a victory in five attempts on home soil, with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Cheltenham Town the nadir of the season to date.
It is still early days of course, and ahead of last weekend’s loss to the Robins there had been plenty to be positive about, with the team playing some attractive football and creating plenty of chances.
But a failure to take the bulk of those chances, allied with some shocking defensive lapses, has meant results haven’t gone the team or Austin’s way.
It means there is plenty of pressure on the manager and his players’ shoulders as they head to Burslem for Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two clash at Port Vale, who are just a couple of places and one point above the Cobblers.
I can accept when we don’t play well, and I can accept mistakes or whatever, but I can’t accept it when we keep making the same mistakesCobblers boss Dean Austin
The grumblings are growing among a fanbase that has been put through the mill for the past two years, with successive managers in Rob Page, Justin Edinburgh and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink all failing to find a winning formula.
The good work of Chris Wilder’s league two title winning team of 2016 has been more or less completely undone, with Austin, in his first post as a Football League manager, the latest to try and get the club back on the winning track.
It’s not quite going to plan at the moment for the former Reading and Watford assistant manager, but you won’t hear Austin complaining.
“I get up every day at five to six, and there isn’t a day yet when I have woken up and thought ‘I don’t fancy this’,” said the Cobblers boss when asked if he was enjoying the pressures of the job.
“That has never happened, and if it did, I would jack it in.
“Life is full of ups and downs, and we all have our problems.
“All our fans will have their problems in their lives as well, so we all have our issues, but I love my job, I love what I do.
“I would like to think I am good at it, but at the moment it doesn’t feel like I am, but I do believe in myself, and I do believe in what we do.”
Austin has constantly talked up his squad this season, and tried to instil belief in his players, but there have been the first signs that his patience is beginning to wear a bit thin as his team continues to find ways of failing to win matches.
“I love my job, and it is an honour and a privilege to be manager of Northampton Town, and there are a lot of things I can accept,” said the Town boss, who enjoyed a long playing career with the likes of Southend United, Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace.
“I can accept when we don’t play well, and I can accept mistakes or whatever, but I can’t accept it when we keep making the same mistakes.
“I had a rule when I played, and I said to my manager ‘tell me once’.
“I said to them if you tell me once then it won’t happen again, and if it does happen again, then you have to do what you have to do.
“If that means you have to drop me, then drop me, because I am not good enough.
“I have said this to the players, and my team has to be a reflection of me, so I want my team to be a reflection of how I manage and how I used to play.”
And he added: “I used to always say, if I am going to get beat, then I am going to get beat with my boots on having a go, and if you do that then nobody can every say anything.
“For me that is a bare minimum because they are playing for this football club, they have the best job in the world, and it is time to stand up as one.
“With all due respect to Cheltenham, and no disrespect to them, we as a group cannot accept that a team like Cheltenham has come here and beaten us 3-1 on our own patch.
“That is not acceptable, and it is payback time, because the results aren’t good enough.”