Jefferson Lake: League survival all that matters

END OF THE ROAD - Aidy Boothroyd tries to gee his players up during their beating at the hands of Wycombe on Saturday. It was to prove his final game in charge of the Cobblers (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
END OF THE ROAD - Aidy Boothroyd tries to gee his players up during their beating at the hands of Wycombe on Saturday. It was to prove his final game in charge of the Cobblers (Picture: Sharon Lucey)

Whoever inherits the Cobblers managerial job in the next few days or weeks will be given just a single brief for success this season - keep the club in the Football League.

It is exactly the same mission directive Aidy Boothroyd had when he arrived in Northampton in November 2011 to pick over the rubble of the disastrous and brief Gary Johnson reign.

That task was a sizeable one; Johnson’s squad had developed a deep distrust of their manager, whose Marmite personality left a bitter taste in the mouths of even those who had started their Town careers as firm supporters of his methods.

Restoring team spirit was Boothroyd’s first main task and such a job does not necessary need doing this time around - this is, generally, a squad that is motivated and well-prepared, they are just not performing to a high enough standard on the pitch.

Boothroyd’s successor will, however, share a problem with the recently-departed Yorkshireman.

The squad at Sixfields is bulging - it is at the point where, in the lists of player names on the backs of programmes, Northampton’s far outstrips those of their opposition.

There is some artificial inflation there; three are first-year professionals (David Moyo, Claudio Dias, Dean Snedker) and three more haven’t kicked a ball for the club this season (Kelvin Langmead, Alex Nicholls, Lewis Hornby), while Ben Tozer and JJ Hooper are out on loan.

But this is a vast Northampton squad and one that requires urgent surgery in the January transfer window.

Whoever the new manager is, he will want to sign players (usually ones he has worked with before) and he will also be under pressure to move some out.

With most of them are under reasonably long-term contracts - the exceptions are Matt Heath and Paul Reid, whose deals run out in January - such departures will be expensive, although the cost cannot be measured against the financial hit the club would take by dropping out of the Football League.

This is going to be a period that sears through the club accounts and costs chairman David Cardoza a lot of money.

Dispensing with Boothroyd’s services was a pricey option and now the financial firepower has to be promised to the new man to lure him into the job.

Experienced managers don’t tend to like to associate themselves with clubs that won’t be giving them money to spend because such clubs tend to fail and failures don’t look good on the CV.

But should Northampton be looking for an experienced manager?

The accepted wisdom is that a gnarled old ‘gaffer’ is what is needed to get struggling teams out of their current predicament and that this is no time for a rookie to be cutting his teeth.

A hungry, young manager might be a better option, though, especially as the past two appointments have both been ‘name’ managers with proven track records who have had very limited success.

Whoever is appointed faces a huge task.

They have to keep the club in the Football League, which brings an enormous pressure on its own.

That they have to do it amid an atmosphere of player cuts and budget trimming will only enhance that pressure and for that reason the next managerial appointment might be one of the biggest in the club’s history.

With the redevelopment due to begin in earnest in the new year, this is an exciting time to become Northampton Town manager.

While the job remains an attractive one, though, it is one that now has more pressure attached to it than at many of the other times of change over the past 116 years.

If the board get this appointment wrong, the club will go down.