Alec Swann - The Cobblers’ problems aren’t due to a lack of effort

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Northampton Town are in trouble.

Three points from safety, six games to go and in pretty ropey form.

Call me a cynic, as plenty have, but all of this adds up to a depressingly grey picture.

And if the worst comes to the worst, the Cobblers, come August, will be visiting the likes of Alfreton and Forest Green rather than Accrington Stanley and Newport County.

This wouldn’t constitute particularly good news for the club - chairman, manager, players et al - or the supporters.

And one of the latter, if you read this week’s Chronicle & Echo, has penned a heartfelt open letter to those currently donning the maroon shirt, a plea for them to do their utmost to drag the club from their dodgy predicament.

On one hand, I applaud this gesture.

Any football club, or professional sporting club for that matter, needs its dyed in the wool fan, that committed, hardcore individual who turns up come rain or shine, success or failure, crisis or calm.

And they are entitled to their view whether that is expressed in the aforementioned manner or via the medium of industrial language on a Saturday afternoon.

They want their club to prosper, they want the lift it provides and they would rather be in the position to mock others rather then be the one taking the mocking.

Yet on the other hand, the letter is both predictable and unintentionally misses the point.

An accusation of a lack of effort, or care, or passion, or desire is the default setting of many a supporter who isn’t seeing what he wants to see.

To state that a professional, and the clue is in that word, of being in it for the money and possessing the ability to move elsewhere as and when is accurate yet if it’s meant to be derogatory then bad luck.

The man on the pitch is different from those in the stands in one respect, always has been and always will be, with one’s existence at a club usually fleeting and the others the opposite.

But in another we’re all the same. I’ve moved jobs before and no doubt the majority of fans have done the same.

I was bothered about my employment at each and every place and the same will go for the footballers at Sixfields.

Of course they care and the manager isn’t worth his salt if he can’t root out those who don’t.

Should the Cobblers suffer the ignominy of relegation it will be, and excuse the stating of the obvious, because they haven’t been good enough over a 46-game season.

While they are there, it will matter whether survival is achieved and if, in May, they move elsewhere then that is the sporting world continuing to turn.

Come next year, wherever the Cobblers will be and in whatever division they are plying their trade, the feeling from the stands will be the same.

There will be frustration, there will be negativity, there will be despair and if things are going well the opposite will apply.

But don’t go down the lack of effort route.

Face the uncomfortable fact that perhaps they’re just not up to it.