No sleepless nights for Cobblers boss Boothroyd

YOUNGER DAYS - Aidy Boothroyd pictured when he was the manager of Watford, who he guided to play-off success in 2006
YOUNGER DAYS - Aidy Boothroyd pictured when he was the manager of Watford, who he guided to play-off success in 2006

Aidy Boothroyd insists he will have no sleepless nights this week, in the build-up to a play-off final about which he is a lot more relaxed than the one he won in 2006.

Seven years ago, Boothroyd was preparing his Watford squad for a Championship showdown against Leeds United at the Millennium Stadium, which they won 3-0 to progress to the Premier League.

It was an experience that has made planning for this Saturday’s final at Wembley slightly easier, at least on the nerves.

A cornerstone of Boothroyd’s managerial style is that he maintains the same disposition regardless of the kind of results his team is producing at the time.

It is true that he was as calm and collected during press interviews when the Cobblers were fighting to stay in the Football League as he has been in the past fortnight, as they bid to leave league two at the correct end.

And so he finds himself acting as both lightning rod to deflect pressure from his players, and the barometer by which the squad’s mood is usually set, in the most crucial week in the club’s recent history.

“It is high pressure and it is nerve-wracking when you do it for the first time,” said Boothroyd.

“But I’m a lot more relaxed about this one than I was the first time around.

“I can see the potential pitfalls that lie ahead and the highs that we are capable of achieving.”

And he added: “As the manager, when people think I’m in a good mood it sets the tone and it’s the same if I’m in a bad mood.

“You have to try to stay level regardless of where the team is.

“When we were bottom of the league I like to think I wasn’t very different to how I am now.

“It is very high pressure and when it’s like that you take as much away from the staff and the players as you possibly can by telling them what is required of them.

“Then, on the day, they have to go and perform.

“It’s all about thinking and performing under pressure and that’s what we’ve been working on all season.”

Boothroyd has several selection issues to ponder, notably in defence, where Nathan Cameron was outstanding in the play-off semi-finals but comes under pressure from club skipper Kelvin Langmead, and in which department Joe Widdowson has added his name to the fit list by making a return to training this week.

Such decisions, he insists, will be taken with a customary ruthlessness that puts the good of the team above any emotional concerns.

With the team confirmed, there will be no tossing and turning in his bed in the team hotel on Friday night for the manager, who says he won’t feel the nerves in the final hours of build-up to what is an enormous game for all concerned.

“I generally sleep well,” he said. “I’m at my best when I feel everything has been done.

“We’re a few days away from that at the moment.

“When we’re on the bus driving into Wembley there will be the warm-up and one team talk to go and everything else will have been done.

“We will have made sure that the team is picked and the players are ready.

“Those who don’t start will be disappointed and those who aren’t in the squad will be even more disappointed.

“But this is where I have to be ruthless. I have to pick a team that is going to go and win the game.”