Northampton Town Podcast August Fans Forum- Recorded live at Sixfields, Charles, Neil, Danny and Jefé are joined by Jon Brady, Colin Calderwood and Marc Richards for a pre-season fans forum.
Q: Jon, how are you feeling about the season ahead?
JB: Marc and I really enjoyed the last 20 games of last season. We took on a tough challenge to try and change things around and we nearly did it, we just missed out by a few points and that hurt but it has driven us on through the off season. We have got through a lot of hard work this summer and Martin Foyle has been a huge help to us. We have been aggressive in our recruitment and that is what we wanted to be. We have also gone out and got one of the best out there in Colin Calderwood to come and be our assistant manager so, although there is nothing to measure at the moment, we believe in what we have done and we are prepared for the season and ready to go.
CC: I cannot overstate how delighted I am to be back. All I want to do is to help, Jon, Marc and the club to be as successful as we can be.
Q: Was it tough to leave Blackpool and Championship football?
CC: It was tough, it was an emotional end to the season and the play offs are the best way to go up. The option was there to stay at Blackpool, but I also had the option to come here and this is an option I wanted to take up. It was nothing to do with location, it is simply that I like working with people who are ambitious, I know the club and I know the area and it is just having the chance to offer my experience to help the club move forward.
Q: Marc, tell us about your coaching experience and how you ended up coming back here.
MR: I had an opportunity to carry on playing but the role of assistant under 18s coach came up here and I made the decision to become Jon’s assistant in the youth team and I learned a lot working with him last season. I never expected a first team role to come up so soon, but it has been a whirlwind and something I am really enjoying. I think we have a very solid, strong coaching unit. We are working with good people and for good people at the football club and that is all you can ask.
Q: Are we going to win the league?!
JB: I think we will be competitive and that is what we are aiming to be.
Q: How are we looking player wise for Saturday?
JB: Sam Hoskins trained very well today and is back with the group. We have not been able to give him any minutes on the pitch recently as we have had to look after him but you have to be very careful with Covid and take the advice of the medical staff. Sam has found things tough but he is on the right path and is progressing.
Q: How are you managing the expectations about the start of the season?
CC: I have learned from various teams, it is not about the first game of the season, it is about where you are after ten games or so. The best place to be is an improving team still improving six to ten games in. The first game often bears no resemblance to the season ahead. The teams who are still improving six to ten games in are the ones who will challenge.
JB: This is our town, this is where we live and we want to give success back to the town. This is a new team, we want to try and knit the team together and give the fans a team they can enjoy watching.
Q: What is your view on the currently goalkeeping situation?
MR: I think we have two excellent goalkeepers. We have one keeper in Liam Roberts who is young and up and coming and full of potential and one keeper in Jonny Maxted who knows what it takes at this level. I think they will drive each other on and we would be very comfortable with either playing in the team. We also have a very good young keeper coming through in Charlie Woods who has a lot of potential. Last season we only had one goalkeeper to pick from when Steve Arnold was injured.
JB: We couldn’t really select Steve Arnold for parts of last season because of injury but we didn’t want to let on as we didn’t want opposition teams knowing so at times we had Steve Arnold on the bench but he wasn’t able to be used and so we only had one keeper to use. This season I am pleased we have two good keepers to choose from.
Q: Jon, what is your injury as we saw you hobbling in and any more signings due in?
JB: I ruptured my achilles last Friday at training. I just jumped to catch a ball and that is why I am on crutches. In terms of transfer business, we feel we have done some strong business this summer and now the time is to focus on the pitch and we will move forward with what we have.
Q: Was it by design that players signed earlier this summer?
JB: We played Sunderland on the Sunday at the end of last season and then on the Monday we were straight in and on to the new season. We were in all summer and we didn’t waste a minute. It wasn’t so much about doing things early, it was about getting the right profile of player and Martin Foyle was instrumental for us. The proof will be in the pudding but we are pleased with the work we have done for the profiles we put together.
MR; We actually wanted to take our time and get the right character, the right personality etc and those first two weeks of the summer seemed to go slowly and then, once we had done our homework the players started to come through.
CC: Recruitment is always an ongoing process. We are pleased with where we are but you are always looking, if not for this window then for the next. Our plan is always to provide the Head of Recruitment with the type of player the manager wants and then you can start to narrow down your targets. Blackpool worked in a very similar way last year to how we have this window. It is about building your knowledge up to be ready to pick up any opportunity that might come your way in future transfer windows.
Q: Marc, what is your best moment in a Cobblers shirt?
MR: When Kelvin Thomas took over, the club gelled and we went on to win the league and we got to lift the League 2 trophy here at Sixfields
Q: We will see young players come through this season?
JB: A lot of the players we have signed have good league experience but are young enough to be on an upward curve. Whatever age, players have to earn the right through performances in training and matches to be selected. We try to deal in excellence, that’s what we strive for every day and if the players do that, they have every chance of being selected to play.
Q: What the latest with Caleb?
JB: He is training well and working very hard. At the moment he is focussing on trying to get in to our team and that’s how it should be. He is developing and getting stronger and we are really pleased with him at the moment.
CC: Caleb is someone who I have been impressed with. If any player generates interest it is a tribute to the club and the coaches here and the players the club and the academy produce. I am quite excited with what I have seen from him.
Q: Even though we went down last season, I liked how the team played and I have faith in the management team. I am pleased with the local feel to the staff and I am enthused and looking forward to the season. Are the under 18s going to play the same way so we are the same all through the club.
JB: We really want to connect the club, top to bottom. I have close ties to the academy, as does Marc and we are very close to Ian Sampson, as is Colin. The EPPP programme monitors the academy and the connection to the first team closely. We have to win games at first team level first, but in time I want to have a connection right the way through from the under 9s to the first team.
CC: It is important to get a regular game routine for those who are missing out. Maybe that will be training ground games against other teams but it is important to keep as many players as possible match fit and sharp and reserve team football helps with that, it helps develop players and it helps develop that bond throughout the club. The important thing is to decide your style, recruit to that style with players who have those attributes and it is important you stick to that, through the ups and downs. You have to stick with things and allow them time to evolve and develop. There will be highs and lows on that path, but you have to stick with it.
MR; My history is that I am striker and I liked to score goals and I have been working with the strikers in the squad. I think we have a good group of strikers here at the moment, some of whom have got good records of scoring at this level and have great attitudes. I will do my best to guide them, to help and to try and work with them to improve as individuals and as a team.
Q: How do you look after the mental wellbeing of the younger players?
JB; For me, from our youth team days there has been a big awareness on young players and looking after their mental health. We do a lot with our academy staff to raise awareness. I am really big on creating an environment where we are a unit together and our door is always open for anyone who needs it. If we spot anything not quite right, we will spend time with a player to make sure they are OK and to try and help. Covid has not been an easy time for players, we all have good days and we all have tough days but it is about helping each other through.
Q: How have you found working with Graham Carr?
JB: Graham is a really good presence. He has been in a lot of recruitment meetings and he has been at training a few times. We listen to every word he says, he has huge experience and knowledge and he is a huge influence for us and someone we have really glad to have on board.
Q: How key will rotation be in the busy first few weeks of the season?
JB; We will take it game by game. There might be games where we can bring players back in to the fold who have been out but we will see how we go, game by game. We have tried to get two players for every position and we can rest and rotate if we need to, we have some good depth.
Q; Is Cam McWilliams still on trial with us?
JB: Cam is a player I know well. He is still training with us at the moment and that is ongoing.
What was the army camp like?
CC; The training camp was excellent. The players were woken up army style a lot earlier than they expected which was a shock to them and they worked hard. We also did some classroom work but it was not all one way, the players set out their expectations too. For example, the players told the coaching staff what they wanted from us and what we have to deliver to them and reach the standards they demand of us too..
How did the Kion Etete transfer come about?
JB; The process started right back at the end of last season, and he was someone we identified then. Younger players tend to stay with their parent clubs in pre-season and when the clubs feel ready, they then let them out. We have people here with close links with Tottenham and that helped us. We watched Kion a couple of times, we tracked him through pre-season and we did our homework. He had various clubs to speak to as there was a lot of interest in him but thanks to our connections there, what we felt we could offer and how we feel we can help develop Kion, they decided this was the best club for him and we are delighted to have him on board.
Q: Will we send young players out on loan to gain experience?
JB: Over the next week or so, some of the young players might well go out on loan to local clubs, that is something we are looking at.
Q: What made you decide Joseph Mills was the ideal captain?
JB: He is very positive person and very open and he leads both by example and the way he speaks. We sat down and talked about it and we feel Joseph is the ideal leader. He has impressed me since the day we came in to the dressing room.
CC: He has a lot of qualities that are respected by the dressing room and then you add in his unseen work, the fact he is a role model and a good professional and we think he is the natural choice.
Q: What is the target this season?
JB; The players have set their own non negotiables that lead on to targets and where we want to be. They have presented that to us as staff and we are in line with that.
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Charles is the founder and main presenter of the award-winning It’s All Cobblers To Me podcast.
He began the podcast after going self-employed in 2018 as a podcast producer and voiceover artist. The original thought being that It’s All Cobblers To Me would be a place to try out new things – like a test podcast of sorts.
As well as being Cobblers mad, Charles is also a ultramarathon runner and has a blog about that that he tries to keep up to date as often as he can.