Skipper Richards hoping '˜fresh ideas' from new boss can end Cobblers slump
Marc Richards is hoping that '˜fresh ideas' from a new manager will help eradicate the second-half woes that have dogged the Cobblers on so many occasions this season.
Rob Page was sacked on Monday after overseeing a run of nine defeat in 11 games, and a 5-0 hammering at Bristol Rovers in Sky Bet League One.
The Cobblers are still reasonably placed in 16th place in the table, eight points above the relegation zone, but the team’s worrying form was concerning enough to chairman Kelvin Thomas to relieve the manager of his duties.
A new boss is set to be in place at Sixfields in the next few days, and one of the main problems he is going to have to eradicate is the team’s tendency to sit deep in the second half of matches, inviting pressure, and the concession of late goals.
It has been a feature of many Cobblers games this season, and was prevalent over the festive period as Town lost to late goals at Sheffield United and then at home to Bradford City, having spent most of the second half of those games defending.
“The second half performances are something we need to address, or whoever is in charge needs to address, and find out the reason why we are slumping in the second half of games,” said Richards.
“Whatever it is, we need a way of not going into the rut that we have been in previous games, where in the second half we were dropping deeper and deeper, not retaining possession, not getting up the pitch.
“We need some fresh ideas on how to address that, and a way forward.”
Richards revealed he had some sympathy for sacked boss Page, feeling that Saturday’s defeat at Bristol Rovers is the first time the team has been outplayed this season.
Page may have partly paid the price over the past couple of months for the heights the team reached in October, when the Cobblers were as high as fifth in the table, and eyeing another promotion.
The losing run saw the team slide down the table, but Richards admits the team’s early season form may have simply been down to the standard of opposition they were playing.
“I think the start of the season we had, maybe gave us a false position,” said the 34-yeard-old.
“We did start well, we had the five games at the start of the season that we drew, and then we started winning games, but we hadn’t played a top team at the time I don’t think.
“Over this past month or so we have played a lot of top teams, and ultimately we have lost a few games and have slowly dropped away from the heights of the play-offs, to now being just below mid-table.
“Is it a fair place for us to be? It probably is at the moment with how we have been playing, but in saying that we have been so close in so many games.
“The only game this season where we have been totally outplayed is Bristol Rovers, and the manager lost his job for that game, but I think in the games before that we have well and truly been in them.
“Sheffield United away, I thought we competed well in the first half before having our backs to the wall in the second half, and then against Bradford at home, I thought we created chances in the first half, but then in the second half it just crumbled.”
And he added: “There have been so many games this season where it has been about one goal, at either end.
“Whether we have had chances, or whether we have not defended as we should have done late on in games, they are fine margins and that is the ruthlessness of football.
“If two or three results had gone the other way then Rob could still be in a job and we could be looking towards mid-table, and I think if you look at a mid-table end to the season then most fans would have taken that at the start of the season.”