Wilder defends decision to bring in midfielder O’Toole

John-Joe O'Toole
John-Joe O'Toole

Chris Wilder has defended his decision to sign John-Joe O’Toole on a three-year deal last summer.

The Cobblers boss brought in O’Toole from Bristol Rovers following the Gas’s relegation out of the Football League.

O’Toole had been the shining light in the Rovers team throughout that campaign, scoring an impressive 15 goals from midfield, and he was on the radar of many clubs when he became available on a free transfer.

Wilder swooped to make O’Toole one of his marquee summer signings, hoping the player would add creativity to the Northampton team, as well as much-needed goals.

But things didn’t quite work out that way, with O’Toole struggling for form all season, managing just two goals in 42 appearances.

Wilder finally lost patience with the 26-year-old at the end of the campaign, and placed O’Toole on the transfer list, making it clear the player has no future at Sixfields.

There has been criticism from some quarters about the wisdom of signing O’Toole and handing him such a lengthy contract in the first place, but Wilder insists it was the right move at the time.

And he also believes it is the right thing to move the player on just 12 months into that three-year contract.

“We aren’t always going to get things right, and I have seen a few articles flying about questioning why we gave John-Joe a three-year deal,” said the Cobblers manager.

“But I think a lot of other clubs would have taken him and given him the three-year deal, because that is what he was after.

“He was on decent money, he was available on a free transfer, and he had just come off the back of a really good season.

“But it’s not worked for us, it’s not worked for him, and you have to move on and make decisions.

“You can’t bury your head in the sand and hope it will all come good.

“There are better managers than me that have made signings that have not really kicked in and now I just want to work with the players we have got.

“I think we have a really good group, and it’s developing nicely with age and experience. Things are ticking along well.”