Keith Curle has not written off a play-off challenge with the Cobblers this season, although his first aim is to move closer to a top half berth with three points at Crawley Town this weekend.
Curle was initially brought in by chairman Kelvin Thomas with the aim of steering Northampton away from relegation danger in Sky Bet League Two, and now he’s managed that, he has loftier expectations.
The idea is to get into the top half of the table and then have a realistic challenge to try and get into the play-offs.
That said, two draws and a defeat from their last three league games have dropped the Cobblers back down to 17th in the table, closer to the bottom two than the play-offs.
Nonetheless, despite being eight points adrift of the top eight at present, Curle has aspirations of eventually leading his side towards a play-off challenge.
“Every team we play, whether they’re around us or above us, is an opportunity to get three points,” he said. “The idea is to get into the top half of the table and then have a realistic challenge to try and get into the play-offs.
“We’ve got the ability in the squad and we have a record that suggests we’re able to put runs together now with four wins, four draws and only two defeats in the league (since Curle took over).
“We need to go on another run now and Saturday is a good opportunity against a team that, on their day, can be very competitive against anybody in the division and likewise on the day they can come unstuck.”
Crawley are currently managed by Gabriele Cioffi, who replaced Notts County-bound Harry Kewell in September.
Cioffi had only managed abroad previously, spending one season at Italian side Gavorrano in 2013, and it’s been an up-and-down start to life in England for the 43-year-old, winning six and losing eight of his 17 games in charge.
The Red Devils are currently 14th in League Two, three places and three points above the Cobblers.
“It’s a learning curve for the manager that’s gone in there,” said Curle. “He’s adjusting to the division.
“They played against Crewe and I think Crewe were very pleased with their performance but not the result because they got beat 3-0. They had five or six chances in that game.
“They have different styles of play and different ways of playing depending on personnel. They can be direct, League Two football, and they can get the ball down and pass and play and change their focal point.
“They can be a difficult play against and it’ll be down to what team they pick and what style the manager thinks suits them on the day, but ultimately our focus is on what we’re about, the problems we think we can cause them and nullifying their threats. It’ll be a very, very competitive game.” dfsddsf