“Why not? Why can’t we? That is the message to the players.”
That was the response from boss Rob Page when he was asked if the Cobblers could cause one of the biggest shocks in the club’s history and beat the mighty Manchester United in the third round of the EFL Cup next month.
Northampton - six years on from their most famous cup victory against Liverpool at Anfield - were paired with Jose Mourinho’s star-studded side in Wednesday night’s draw, and Page is determined to ensure his players go into what will be a huge game with victory on their minds.
The Cobblers may be taking on arguably the biggest club in football, and the players may find themselves face to face with some of the highest profile stars in the world game, but Page is a believer that reputations count for nothing.
That was certainly the case when the Cobblers turned over Premier League West Bromwich Albion in round two at Sixfields, and although facing Manchester United is a notch up or two on the Baggies, Page is equally bullish about his team’s chances.
“I have been there myself and played in big games where there have been upsets,” said the Cobblers boss, who played in League Cup and FA Cup semi-finals during his career.
“We are massive underdogs going into the game, so there is no pressure on the players.
“I want them to go and enjoy it, enjoy the occasion, enjoy getting on the ball and being brave and showcasing themselves and us as a football club, and you never know in cup competitions. Anything can happen.”
The game against Mourinho’s men will not be played until either September 20 or 21, and once the excitement dies down, Page is keen for his players to put that tussle to the back of their minds.
The Cobblers have four league games before they take on the Red Devils, starting with Saturday’s trip to Coventry City, and the Town boss wants everybody at the club to concentrate on those fixtures, as well as next Tuesday’s EFL Trophy group game against Wycombe Wanderers.
“Our focus now is on Saturday’s game against Coventry, and we want to take the momentum from Tuesday’s game into that,” said Page.
“Understandably, the players will be able to get themselves up for the Manchester United game and if they don’t they are in the wrong profession.
“But what’s important now is that we are grounded, we keep our feet on the ground, and realise that it is the league campaign that is our priority.
“There are a lot of points to be gained in the time between now and when we play United.
“It is a great draw for the club, it’s a great opportunity for the players, but that is a long way off and we need to put it to bed and focus on Coventry City on Saturday.”