Keith Curle celebrates one year in charge of the Cobblers... "I think we should be top, and I want to be top"
Keith Curle is celebrating one year in charge of the Cobblers - and he admits the time has flown by!
The 55-year-old was appointed Town manager on October 1, 2018, following the sacking of Dean Austin, and took charge of his first match the following day, overseeing a 0-0 draw with Bury at the PTS Academy Stadium.
Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas turned to the experienced Curle after witnessing the 4-0 capitulation of Austin's team at Mansfield Town, a result that meant Town had picked up just seven points from their opening 10 league games of the season.
Thomas decided to take action, and Curle was handed the task of turning the fortunes of the club around following the relegation from league one a few months earlier.
There were genuine fears another relegation battle was looming, but Curle immediately set about a rebuilding job that is still going on, and he admits he has enjoyed the task at hand.
"I have to say that it doesn't seem a year to me," said Curle. "It has been an exciting journey, there has been a lot of changes and there will be continued changes at the club.
"But I think we have an environment here where people are not scared of change.
"The enthusiasm around the changes that have been made internally, within the football department, has been very progressive."
Change is certainly a word that can descrive the Curle era at the PTS to date, with the summer alone seeing 15 players leave the club and 16 join, and prior to that the likes of Matt Crooks and Kevin van Veen had also departed.
A clear indication of the change that has happened at the club is the fact that just three of the starting line-up from Curle's first match against Bury remain at the club, and just five from the match day 18 - those five being David Cornell, Sam Hoskins, Andy Williams, Jordan Turnbull and Billy Waters.
Without setting the league two world alight, the Cobblers have made progress in the pitch, and from the lowly position they were in then he took charge, they are 13th in the current table with 11 games having been played, just three points off the top seven, and six off the top three.
It's not where Curle wants to be, but he is content that the club and the team are heading in the right direction.
"To be honest, I think we should be top, and I want to be top," said the Cobblers boss, who has managed 55 Cobblers games, winning 19, losing 16 and drawing 20 in all competitions.
"There is a new era, a new playing squad, and a new mentality within the changing room, and obviously that will happen when you bring in 14 or 15 new players.
"But there is a culture that is developing within the football club that is gearing towards the top of the table, which is where we want to be, and where we want to be operating.
"We want to be in the top three, in the top seven, we want to be a known as a team that operates within that region.
"But every football club wants that, every football club wants to be at the top, every player, every supporter, every coach, every manage wants to be top of the league which would mean they are doing things right.
"What we are saying is we are putting implements in place that will get us going in the right direction.
"Does it happen overnight? No, it doesn't. There are changes that need to be adhered to, need to be adjusted to internally within the new squad that is coming in.
"The players we haver brought in, I think they have added new dynamics to the squad, and the ones that have remained here and continue to be here have bought into the changes as well.
"They are accepting the challenges, and I think they are enjoying the challenges.
"It has all been very pleasing."
Asked if there is anything about his first year at the club that has surprised him, Curle simply said: "I am surprised we haven't won more games!
"We have had good footholds in games and we should have gained more points, but that is something that needs to change."
Expanding on that, the Cobblers boss says it is a case of him and his players developing a 'need to win' attitude.
"It is like creating a winning mentality," said Curle, who is under contract at the Cobblers until next summer. "Because people identify that they like the way they feel when they win, as opposed to how they feel when they get beat.
"That doesn't make you a winner, and that is the message we are getting across to the changing room.
"Needing to win is completely different to wanting to win.
"When you need something, then it happens, when you want something then sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.
"We are trying to create that culture where we need to win, which means everybody needs to knows their job, does their job, and performs, and within that, enjoy it."