Wilder: Cobblers players keeping pressure on themselves
The Cobblers may be sitting pretty, 11 points clear with a game in hand at the top of Sky Bet League Two with just nine games of the season remaining, but manager Chris Wilder insists his players are still under pressure.
But unlike two years ago, when the Cobblers went into Easter in a relegation scrap and fighting for their Football League future, this time that pressure is coming from within the Sixfields camp.
Wilder and his squad are obviously in a pretty relaxed mood ahead of an Easter programme that sees Newport County come to Sixfields on Friday (ko 3pm) and then a trip to Mansfield Town on Monday.
And why wouldn’t they be relaxed as they are on a 15-match unbeaten run in the league, and a huge 17 points clear of fourth-placed Plymouth Argyle.
But come kick-off on Friday afternoon, Wilder insists the pressure will be on his players to perform and maintain their high standards - with last weekend’s comeback win at Stevenage proof of the squad’s desire.
“We put ourselves under pressure to play well and win games of football,” said the Cobblers boss.
“That is what we did on Saturday, we put ourselves in a position where we won’t accept second best, and the players are the ones that drive that.
“We could have given that game up when we were 2-0 down, and said ‘we’ve got nine more matches to go’, but we didn’t, we dug the result out.”
Wilder remembers the relegation scrap of 2014 all too well, and although that season also ended in celebration with the Cobblers staying up on the final day, he knows it is a very different atmosphere around Sixfields this year.
“There is a different feel to the club, and that (2014) was a difficult time for the football club,” said the Town boss.
“But where we are now to where we were, this is what you want.
“You want to be going into these last nine games when the weather is changing a little bit, and the clocks go forward, it is a great part of the season.
“I love this part of the season, especially if we are doing well and going for something, and the players are certainly doing that.”
On many occasions this season, Wilder has emphasised how important the backing of the supporters has been, and he is urging those fans to keep going exactly as they have been to push the players over the line.
“The support we had on Saturday at Stevenage was immense, and we have talked about the support we had in the last home game against Cambridge as well, but it can’t be expectant,” said Wilder.
“It can’t be a case of we just have to turn up, we still need their backing.
“The players need to produce a performance as well, and that goes hand in hand, and there is still work to be done. But we are really looking forward and focused on the games coming up.”