Austin will take being the boss in his stride
Dean Austin insists it is simply a case of '˜as you were' as he prepares for his first season as a Football League manager.
Aside from his five matches as caretaker boss of the Cobblers at the back end of last season, the 48-year-old’s managerial experience is limited to eight months in charge at non-League Farnborough, 13 years ago.
He has been entrusted with the task of trying to steer Town back into Sky Bet League One at the first attempt after their relegation in May, with chairman Kelvin Thomas handing him a two-year deal to take the managerial reins.
It is undoubtedly a big challenge for Austin, but he is taking everything in his stride and insists he is not approaching the new campaign any differently to if he was still an assistant manager, or first-team coach.
“It is no different, and it is not going to change me as a person,” said Austin, who welcomes his players back for pre-season training on Monday.
“It’s not going to make me act any differently in terms of how I treat the players, because I always feel that I treat people with respect.
“So I am not going to treat the players any differently, I am not going to coach the team any differently to how I would coach it if I was the first-team coach.
“The only difference now is that I get the pelters from the players if I don’t pick them on a Saturday!”
Austin and the Cobblers found out on Thursday morning that they will start the new season on August 4 with a home game against Lincoln City, who were beaten play-off semi-finalists last month, losing to Exeter City.
It’s a tough start for Town, who travel to Carlisle United the following week, starting a run of four away games in five.
A midweek trip to Wycombe Wanderers in the Carabao Cup follows the Carlisle match and Cambridge United then visit the PTS Academy Stadium on August 18, before a lengthy midweek journey to Morecambe on August 21 and a trip to Colchester United on Saturday, August 25.
Despite the testing opening month, Town have been made second favourites to win the league two title, and although Austin won’t be making any bold predictions, he is confident in his and his team’s ability.
“I think we have a decent opportunity with a decent group of players,” said the Town boss.
“I expect us to be competitive, as of course our fans will, and I am looking forward to the challenge.
“It is a different challenge and it is going to be extremely difficult, because league two is not easy, but I am looking forward to getting my teeth into it and really trying to move the club forward.”
Full Cobblers fixtures 2018/19 – all are subject to change
Sat Aug 4 Lincoln City H
Sat Aug 11 Carlisle United A
Aug 14/15 Carabao Cup One – Wycombe Wanders A
Sat Aug 18 Cambridge United H
Tue Aug 21 Morecambe A
Sat Aug 25 Colchester United A
Wed Aug 29 Carabao Cup Two
Sat Sep 1 Tranmere Rovers H
Sat Sep 8 Cheltenham Town H (UEFA Nations League)
Sat Sep 15 Port Vale A
Sat Sep 22 Notts County H
Wed Sep 26 Carabao Cup Three
Sat Sep 29 Mansfield Town A
Tue Oct 2 Bury H
Sat Oct 6 Swindon Town A
Sat Oct 13 Forest Green Rovers H (UEFA Nations League)
Sat Oct 20 Milton Keynes Dons A
Tue Oct 23 Macclesfield Town A
Sat Oct 27 Oldham Athletic H
Wed Oct 31 Carabao Cup Four
Sat Nov 3 Crewe Alexandra H
Sat Nov 10 Emirates FA Cup 1
Sat Nov 17 Exeter City A (UEFA Nations League)
Sat Nov 24 Grimsby Town H
Tue Nov 27 Newport County A
Sat Dec 1 Emirates FA Cup 2
Sat Dec 8 Crawley Town A
Sat Dec 15 Stevenage H
Wed Dec 19 Carabao Cup Five
Sat Dec 22 Yeovil Town A
Wed Dec 26 Swindon Town H
Sat Dec 29 Milton Keynes Dons H
Tue Jan 1 Forest Green Rovers A
Sat Jan 5 Tranmere Rovers A (Emirates FA Cup 3)
Wed Jan 9 Carabao Cup Semi-Final (1)
Sat Jan 12 Carlisle United H
Sat Jan 19 Cambridge United A
Wed Jan 23 Carabao Cup Semi-Final (2)
Sat Jan 26 Morecambe H (Emirates FA Cup 4)
Sat Feb 2 Colchester United H
Sat Feb 9 Lincoln City A
Sat Feb 16 Crawley Town H (Emirates FA Cup 5)
Sat Feb 23 Stevenage A
Sun Feb 24 Carabao Cup Final
Sat Mar 2 Crewe Alexandra A
Sat Mar 9 Exeter City H
Tue Mar 12 Newport County H
Sat Mar 16 Grimsby Town A (Emirates FA Cup quarter-finals)
Sat Mar 23 Cheltenham Town A (Euro 2020 Qualifiers)
Sat Mar 30 Port Vale H
Sat Apr 6 Notts County A (Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final)
Sat Apr 13 Mansfield Town H
Fri Apr 19 Macclesfield Town H
Mon Apr 22 Bury A
Sat Apr 27 Yeovil Town H
Sat May 4 Oldham Athletic A
Sat May 18 Emirates FA Cup Final