KEITH Curle’s remoddled Northampton are starting to motor in League Two – now he wants the Cobblers to show the consistency needed for League Two success.
The former Carlisle boss took charge in October last year with Northampton at a low ebb following relegation the previous season. The 56-year-old steadied the ship and helped them climb to 15th by the end of the campaign.
Curle undertook a massive squad revamp in the summer, bringing in the likes of Bury winger Nicky Adams, 32, Luton midfielder Alan McCormack, 35, and Macclesfield striker Harry Smith, 24. Undertake a new route in your weekly betting stakes when you compare free bet no deposit sports bonuses on Betting Lounge.
After a stuttering start to the season, the Cobblers are showing signs they will be in the promotion shake-up this term.
Last Saturday’s impressive 4-1 win against high-flying Crewe at Sixfields saw Northampton move into the play-off positions and extended their unbeaten run to six games in league and cup.
“The hardest thing is changing and creating a culture,” said the former England international. “Change is all well and good, but it has to be change for the better. The pleasing thing is that the players are buying into what we’re trying to do.
“We’ve brought in new players and it’s about familiarising them on the pitch and off the pitch, too. They’re in new surroundings and some have moved into club houses. That takes a bit of time to settle into and you have the emotion of winning, losing and drawing matches at the same time. Different people react differently, but we have a common goal.
“Just because you don’t like the feeling when you lose, it doesn’t make you a winner. It’s about the work during the week and we are trying to get consistency in performance.
“The amount of injuries we had at the start of the season curtailed any real fluidity in our play – we had key players missing. After the start of the season, we also brought in new additions.”
Heading into last weekend’s home game against Grimsby, the Cobblers were seventh – but just five points behind leaders Swindon.
“I think it will be tight all year,” said Curle. “I don’t think anyone will run away with it. It’s about gaining momentum and maintaining momentum.
“You have to have the foundations and principles in place to get results. We’re trying to establish a level of consistency – people understand their levels, minimum, and have the licence to express themselves in a team framework.”
Curle also wants his players to be more ruthless if they are leading in games.
“We are where we are on merit,” said the former Manchester City and Wolves defender. “On a few occasions we have been two-nil up and drawn 2-2. With another six points, we would have been very happy, but that’s what this division is about – it’s fine margins.”
The Cobblers take a break from league action next weekend when they entertain National League side Notts County in the FA Cup second round. There’s £54,000 up for grabs in prize money, plus a potentially lucrative place in the third round draw.
One thing’s for sure – the former Notts boss won’t be taking his old side for granted.
“It’s going to be a massive test,” added Curle, whose side pocketed £36,000 for beating Chippenham in round one. “They will probably go into the game as underdogs because of their league status, but I know what that club should be and could be.
“No FA Cup money is factored into our business plan. We don’t need a Cup run to clear debts. The revenue generated is a bonus. Like all League Two clubs, we have priorities where that money could be used if we’re successful.
“I’m sure some would filter down to the footballing department, whether that’s the budget or improvements in the training ground and the infrastructure.”