Midfielder O'Toole '˜delighted' to sign new Cobblers deal
After a '˜mad three seasons' at Sixfields, midfielder John-Joe O'Toole admitted he is '˜delighted' to put pen to paper on a new two-year deal with the Cobblers.
The reigning supporters’ player of the year became manager Justin Edinburgh’s first signing of what is going to be a busy summer, and the news will be a massive boost to the club’s supporters.
Over the the past two years O’Toole has become the epitome of a fans’ favourite, and that love affair can now continue until the summer of 2019.
“I am delighted to sign,” said the 28-year-old. “It has been a bit of a mad three seasons and there have been a lot of ups and downs, but it is a good club and I think it is heading in the right direction.
“I think we can go places, and that is definitely one of the reasons I wanted to stay on.
“I have a good relationship with the fans and the players, as well as the management and everybody up in the offices, which all played a part and I am just glad it is done now and we can look forward to next season.”
There has been plenty of speculation over who will be staying at the Cobblers for next season, with some key players out of contract.
O’Toole admits it can be a worrying time for players, but that he was always keen to extend his stay in Northampton.
“A lot of things go through a player’s mind, whether he’s in contract or out of contract, and there is always a decision to make,” said the former Bristol Rovers man.
“You might have interest from other clubs, or you might not, you might be a bit worried about where you are going to be playing next season, but for me that wasn’t so hard this time around.
“We got this done relatively smoothly, and it is all good.”
The ‘mad three seasons’ O’Toole refers to include his first 12 months at the club where nothing went right, and he was at one point sent out on loan to Southend United, and then transfer-listed by an exasperated Chris Wilder.
It also includes the 2015-16 title-winning season, where O’Toole returned from the wilderness to be the main man in a team full of stars, although there was also the small matter of the club nearly going out of business!
Season number three has been a bit more up and down, on the field at least, with O’Toole at times struggling to be a first-choice under Wilder’s replacement Rob Page, before the manager was sacked mid-season.
Edinburgh has taken over, and it is fair to say O’Toole is now a lot happier than he was under the previous regime, and he responded with a spell of matchwinning performances in Feburary and March that ultimately secured the club’s safety in Sky Bet League One.
Asked if Edinburgh being the boss influenced his decision to sign a new deal, O’Toole said: “Yes, definitely.
“Since he has come in it has been what we needed, and it has been good.
“I have enjoyed the training, and I have managed to score a few more goals since he has been here, so that definitely played a part.
“We have got the summer now, and I am sure he is going to be busy getting players in, and I am looking forward to pre-season.”
O’Toole revealed there was interest in him from other clubs, but that he is very happy at Sixfields and didn’t want to take any sort of gamble with his future - although he did joke that he had been half expecting a call from a certain struggling north London Premier League club.
“I had a little bit of interest from elsewhere, there were a few clubs interested, but nothing concrete,” he said.
“The way Arsenal are going I thought I might have a shout and was waiting for Arsene to give me a shout! But I didn’t get the call.
“Seriously though, there was a little bit of interest and I maybe could have signed elsewhere, but then you are taking a bit of a gamble because you don’t know what you are getting into.
“You might not like the area, or the manager, or whatever, there are a few things you are gambling on. So it was quite a smooth decision in the end.”
And on his special relationship with the Cobblers supporters, O’Toole admitted he was ‘privileged’ that they have taken him into their hearts.
“I feel privileged the fans have taken to me so much, and I appreciate all their support for me and the team,” he said.
“It’s great to have that rapport with them, because they have been fantastic with me.
“The people around here are so friendly and I get on so well with the fans, so it was an easy decision to stay in that sense.”