Aidy Boothroyd has defended his decision to offer reduced terms to departing Cobblers midfielders Luke Guttridge and Ben Harding.
The pair, who were among Boothroyd’s first signings at the club in January 2012, both left Sixfields this week after rejecting the new contracts offered to them by the club.
Harding was selected for almost every game for which he was available during his 18 months at the club and Guttridge played a key role in the play-off campaign, scoring an excellent volley in the 1-0 semi-final win at Cheltenham that helped book the team’s place at Wembley.
But neither were willing to accept the pay cut they would have had to have taken to remain at Northampton, and have both moved on.
Boothroyd insists it was a decision made with a hard-edged and businesslike frame of mind but that he remains on good terms with both players.
“I think it’s important I explain that one, not just for our supporters but for the two guys involved and their families,” he said.
“They helped us stay up in my first season and then played their part in what we did last year so the next question is, of course, why are you offering them less money?
“As a manager and as a football club, we’ve got to be sensible. It’s my job to get my best out of the budget that I can.
“That’s when it becomes a business and I have to make decisions with my head and not my heart; if I made them with my heart I’d have kept Bayo, both these players, everyone. But you have to freshen it up.”
As well as reducing their salaries, Boothroyd also told Harding and Guttridge that their roles in the first team were likely to be diluted in the 2013-14 campaign.
The rise of Lewis Hornby from youth-team prospect to certain starter influenced the manager’s thinking and he admits he is not surprised both players rejected their offers.
“I wanted the two boys to stay and that’s why I made them offers but I’m not surprised they turned them down,” he said.
“In Luke’s case I didn’t think he was going to be as important a player as he has been in the past. We’ve got Lewis Hornby coming through and there’s a decision to be made.
“Quite rightly he thinks he can get better elsewhere and I totally respect that.
“They’re both genuine, honest lads who have done well for us.”