Criticism 'hurts', but Northants coach Sadler accepts only improved performances can lift spirits

"I'll be honest, it's not nice to see and read and hear, and some of the players feel the same, but you have to accept that people are allowed an opinion, and hopefully we can change those opinions."
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After what has been a very disappointing summer, there has been plenty of criticism flying the way of Northants head coach John Sadler, his coaching staff and the players.

As we head into September, the County are rock-bottom of the LV= Insurance Championship Division One with four games to play, odds-on for relegation.

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They have won one and lost six of their 10 four-day matches this season.

Northamptonshire head coach John Sadler (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)Northamptonshire head coach John Sadler (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Northamptonshire head coach John Sadler (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)

The team also failed to progress from the group stages of the Vitality Blast and Metro Bank One Day Cup, winning nine out of 22 white ball matches played.

As well as the team's poor results, some supporters are unhappy with the handling of the Steelbacks captaincy issue back in May, when David Willey replaced Josh Cobb at the helm of the T20 team just two weeks before the Blast campaign started.

Cobb had skippered the side for the three previous campaigns and made it public at the time that the news had come as a shock to him.

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He then struggled for form at the start of the Blast, and hasn't played for the first team since the defeat to Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston on June 9.

As well as that issue, the season in general has been a struggle, and sections of the club's fanbase haven't been shy in coming forward with their criticism and calls for change, particularly on social media.

Sadler says he is well aware of what is being said about him, his staff and some of his players and admits it 'hurts'.

But he insists that, despite the team's struggles, spirit at the County Ground is still good, and that all the team can do is to carry on doing their best to win some games, change the narrative, and give those who are so unhappy something to start smiling about.

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"Of course it hurts," said Sadler, when asked about the criticism. "Myself and the coaching team, the players, we are trying.

"We are putting in the hard work behind the scenes, but sometimes it doesn't quite click.

"You have to kind of accept it (criticism) sometimes when you are in the public domain, and it is professional sport, because people have a right to an opinion.

"I think some of it is unjustified, but it is what it is. It is the criticism you get.

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"If you look around at any of the teams that are struggling, in football, cricket, rugby, any of these sports, the teams that are struggling seem to get some fairly harsh criticism.

"I'll be honest, it's not nice to see and read and hear, and some of the players feel the same, but you have to accept that people are allowed an opinion, and hopefully we can change those opinions.

"What people don't see is the people who come up to you face to face and say 'keep going, hang in there'.

"People don't see that, they are not the ones being vocal, and it is not all one way, you do get some good stuff said as well, but you don't always see that in the public domain."

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And he added: "Sometimes people have an opinion on selection, which is fine, and sometimes players just aren't available.

"The selections we make, it is thrashed out and it is discussed what is the best team for us to go and win a game on any given day, so it's not always an easy one.

"Then there is the work that goes on behind the scenes, the amount of balls these players hit, the amount of catches they take, the amount balls they bowl, the hours they put in in the gym.

"And sometimes it is a bit unjustified the criticism they get, and it's the same with the coaching staff.

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"The amount of hours they put in, the hours behind the scenes that aren't seen, and sometimes it is a bit harsh, but it is part of professional sport, you have to take the rough with the smooth."

There has been speculation among fans online that some players are unhappy at the moment, but Sadler insists that is not the case.

"The lads have been good," said the head coach, who is coming to the end of his second full season in charge since replacing David Ripley.

"It is not easy when you are losing, and when you don't win many games it is the same in any dressing room at any level around the country.

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"In team sport, when you lose and confidence is low then that does affect things.

"It can be a difficult cycle to get out of, and the only way out of that cycle is to put in some performances and win some games.

"We won our third game on the bounce in the 50-over games and the lads were buzzing and morale was very high, but suddenly you lose a couple and it is back down again."

Northants return to action on Sunday (start 10.30am) when they host Lancashire in a must-win LV= Championship clash.

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