Assistant manager Dean Austin believes he is currently undertaking the ‘biggest challenge’ of his coaching career in helping Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink turn the fortunes of the Cobblers around.
The former Watford, Southend United and Crystal Palace coach, who also enjoyed a long playing career with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Palace, joined Town in September.
He signed on at Sixfields along with manager Hasselbaink following the sacking of Justin Edinburgh, with the Cobblers rock bottom of Sky Bet League One, having suffered four defeats in their opening four matches.
Under Hasselbaink and Austin’s guidance the team has slowly but surely clambered away from the foot of the table, claiming 33 points from the 27 matches the duo have been in charge, and they are currenly fifth bottom and outside the relegation zone.
But after a four-match unbeaten run they suffered a setback at the weekend when losing 1-0 at home to second-from-bottom Rochdale.
That defeat underlined that, despite the progress that has been made, the Cobblers are still in the thick of a survival battle and, speaking on talkSPORT, Austin admits his time at Sixfields has been hard work to date, and that he hopes the performance and loss to Dale is ‘just a blip’.
We went in there and we didn’t have a point on the board, but the boys have worked really hardCobblers assistant manager Dean Austin
“I have to say that, in regards of doing this job for 15 years, this is probably the biggest challenge of my career,” said the Town number two.
“We went in there and we didn’t have a point on the board, but the boys have worked really hard, and we have made some additions in January.
“But unfortunately when you are trying to make big steps and big strides forwards, you sometimes have to take a step back.
“We were off the back of a good run, we were unbeaten in four and we have beaten some good teams.
“We drew away last week at Blackburn who are going really well, and we just hope that Saturday was a bit of a blip.”
The Cobblers are back in action on Saturday when they face another crunch relegation clash at fellow strugglers AFC Wimbledon, and Austin says the players will be ready for the challenge.
“We have come off the back of a tough period, and we will regroup the guys,” said the 47-year-old.
“They have worked fantastically hard and we have some good games coming up when we will be ready to go again.”