Chris Wilder, a man who knows a thing or two about bringing success to Sixfields, is confident the Cobblers have found the right man to lead them forwards and upwards in Justin Edinburgh.
From bottom of the Football League to runaway champions in just over two years, Wilder was responsible for leading Northampton into League One last season before taking over at Sheffield United in the summer, leaving the Cobblers to find a worthy heir to his thrown.
Appointed in the summer, Rob Page was Wilder’s immediate successor but despite flying high early on, a prolonged run of poor results cut his reign short and led to chairman Kelvin Thomas hiring Edinburgh, who was sacked by Gillingham just days earlier.
And the first three months of Edinburgh’s reign has offered plenty of encouragement for what lies ahead and that was further reinforced by Northampton’s spirited display against the league leaders and champions-elect on Saturday.
Fired into a deserved half-time lead by Marc Richards’ sensational finish, the Cobblers were far from overawed by the task at hand and ran United close before eventually coming up short thanks to John Fleck’s 88th minute winner.
So, providing safety is secured, does Wilder believe his good friend can lead Northampton to a better season next time round? “Absolutely,” was his emphatic reply.
“Justin knows this division really well and he was very, very unfortunate to lose his job at Gillingham.
“You get a few injuries and you lose a bit of form and you find yourself out of a job, but he wasn’t out of a job for long and I think it’s a really good fit.
“Kelvin (Thomas) will work with Justin and it’s not going to be a powerhouse or a big-hitter in the division but they have teamwork and commitment and some good players and I’m sure they’ll get the recruitment right in the summer.
“Justin came in during January and that’s the toughest time to work but he’s certainly put his stamp on the team because it was a tough game for us on Saturday.
“They were narrowly beaten away at Bolton and they’ve also beaten some decent sides so I think they’ll comfortably finish mid-table in the division and then he’ll get his own players in.
“They’ll work hard through the summer and they’ll go again and I’m sure they can be a force in the division.
“There’s no rocket science to it. It’s just getting a group of good players who are willing to run through brick walls for each other and the supporters will see that and get right behind them.”
Saturday’s game against Sheffield United might be the last time Wilder leads a team out at Sixfields givenhe now will be taking the Blades into the Championship, but he will forever remember his 27 remarkable months at Northampton.
Kelvin (Thomas) will work with Justin and it’s not going to be a powerhouse or a big-hitter in the division but they have teamwork and commitment and some good players. There’s no rocket science to it.
“I really appreciate it (the reception),” he added. “People will always have their opinions and it wasn’t cut and dry what happened at the end of the season but there are some special people here.
“The way the town got behind the team and the staff got behind the players – they went unpaid but got behind myself and Alan and gave us an opportunity to go and win games and have a memorable season.
“Regardless of what happened on Saturday, don’t underestimate what those days were like for me. Days like against Dagenham, at home to Oxford, away at Oxford, at Leyton Orient, at Notts County.
“Days like this don’t happen if we’re not pulling all together and they’re in safe hands. They’re proper people. It’s not about survival, it’s about the living of a football club because don’t underestimate what it does to the town and to everybody.
“It’s a footballing town and it still means just as much to our supporters as did to last year and I’m delighted Northampton are thriving and I’m sure they’ll go from strength to strength.
“It was a special part of my career and Alan’s career and I’d like to think we left it in a better place than when we came in.”
Wilder, being the man he is, has already began thinking and planning for the Championship next season when he will manage in the top two tiers for the first time.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he added. “We’re planning for next season. It’s a tough division but you’ve seen clubs likes Huddersfield, Preston and Barnsley survive in it so we’ll have to recruit right.
“There are loads of players in League One and League Two. We took Fleck out of Coventry, we took Jake Wright out of Oxford and we made a couple of loan signings.
“There are some good players that can play a level up. I don’t subscribe to the view you have to be playing in the Premier League or anything like that.
“There’ll always be some big hitters but we’ll deal with that and I’m just overwhelmed and made up that we’ve managed to get a P next to our name.”