Page says Cobblers fans have every right to be angry, but calls for unity ahead of Rochdale clash
Boss Rob Page says he fully understands the Cobblers fans' anger after the FA Cup embarrassment at the hands of non-League Stourbridge - and admitted if he was a fan who had paid his money to watch he would have joined in the booing.
But the Town manager is urging those same fans to try and put their anger to one side and to turn out in their numbers at Sixfields and back the team in Saturday’s Sky Bet League One clash with high-flying Rochdale.
Page and his Cobblers players were booed off the pitch by a large section of the 400 travelling fans at the War Memorial Ground following the humiliating 1-0 defeat in midweek.
Social media has also been alive with criticism of the manager and the team in the past few days, with emotions ranging from disappointment, to frustration, to anger, to downright fury.
It has been a nightmare few days, and after having a couple of nights to digest the horror show in the west midlands, the Welshman admits he sympathises with the Cobblers fans, and said if he had been in the away terrace he would have joined in the condemnation of the performance.
But he also made it clear he wants everyone to try and shrug the Stourbridge loss off and pull in the same direction again.
“I really do sympathise with the supporters that went, because I felt it myself on the sidelines,” said Page.
“I understand. I am a football supporter myself, and expectation said we go there on Tuesday and we win that game.
“Football is not always black and white like that, and the supporters have every right to boo, and I would have done if I had been a supporter.
“I have no argument with them at all, but what I will ask for now is for them to come and support us on Saturday.
“We are as one, the manager, the players, the supporters, we all have a common goal and that is we all want to be successful with this football club.
“We want to see this football club climb the division, and eventually get out of this division, so come and support us on Saturday.
“I have mentioned it before, without those supporters at Port Vale last weekend we might not have hung on for the win, they were magnificent.
“They have every right to boo us on Tuesday because we weren’t at our best, but let’s get back to it on Saturday, all together as one, and hopefully we can climb this table.”
Talking to the media on Thursday morning, Page was still mystified as to how and why his team underperformed so badly on Tuesday, especially as the same players had claimed maximum league points just days earlier with a 3-2 win at Port Vale.
He said he felt at least five of his players were ‘off their game’, and that the team simply couldn’t carry that many strugglers.
“It was frustrating,” said the Cobblers boss.
“We have seen we are more than capable of holding our own against teams in our division.
“We go with the same 11 that won at Port Vale three days earlier, and they go and give a performance like that.
“When you have five players that, for whatever reason, are off their game, then there is only going to be one outcome, unfortunately.
“Stourbridge were at the peak of their game, they peppered the box and it worked for them, and we had five that were off their game.
“I have never seen a set-piece being put behind the goal before, we had three consecutively, in midfield we didn’t get the ball down and try to play, we played into their hands by trying to play the way they did.
“They play that way every week, so there was only going to be one outcome if we tried to play like that.”
Asked if fatigue may have played a part, with the starting 11 all playing the full 90 minutes at Vale Park the previous Saturday, Page was having none of it.
“I am not going to use fatigue as an excuse, because there is no excuse for Tuesday’s game,” he said.
“I thought the back four probably gave a good account of themselves,
“I thought they stood up to the test, but outside of that you are struggling because you can’t carry that amount of players.
“You can carry one having an off day, but when you have 50 per cent or more of your team having an off day that’s not down to fatigue, it is just decision making.
“In midfield, we couldn’t even get our clearances right, and I remember three of them going straight up in the air.
“Every time Stourbridge got the ball the put us under threat, they put a quality ball in behind the back four where we had a decision to make to either put it our for a throw, or they put us under pressure with a ball into the box.
“They did that better than us, so it wasn’t fatigue.
“Our preparation was excellent, we sent the message out that is was all about attitude, and I have played in games like that myself, and managed in games like that, and it is about attitude and matching the opposition.
“Then it’s about being able to get on the ball and play, but we didn’t do it.”
Page is now keen to draw a line under the cup shocker, and wants everybody involved with the club to do their bit towards claiming three points at the weekend in the team’s final match before Christmas.
“We we have to put Tuesday aside now,” he said.
“It is disappointing to be out of the FA Cup, of course it is, but we are 13th in the league table, and with a win on Saturday we could potentially go 10th, and that has to be our main focus.”