Rob Page makes his first return to Port Vale since quitting to take over at the Cobblers on Saturday - and he admits he ‘will always be in debt’ to the Burslem-based club.
The Welshman was in charge at Vale Park for a little under two seasons, and enjoyed a successful spell, guiding the club to a 12th place finish in Sky Bet League One in May.
But following Chris Wilder’s departure from Sixfields, Page decided there was more potential and stability at Northampton and, after impressing chairman Kelvin Thomas, made the move south.
Page says it wasn’t a decision he took lightly, and that he still looks out for Vale’s results.
“I will always be in debt to the football club, for giving me my opportunity in coaching,” said Page, who took the top job at Vale Park, being promoted from assistant after Micky Adams lost his job in September, 2014.
“I went in when Micky was manager, and fair play to Micky as he took me in.
We certainly had a roller-coaster of emotions with regards to results over the two years that I was there as manager. It was very positive at the end, finishing in the top half of the table with limited resources, so I was pleased with what I did thereCobblers boss Rob Page
“I had worked with Micky as a player over the years, he signed me for Coventry and I had three great years with him, I was his captain there.
“We kept that relationship when I was playing and he was managing at other clubs, we stayed in contact and he gave me that opportunity at Port Vale.
“For that reason I will always be in debt to the club, and I always look out for their results.
“I still have many friends that are supporters of Port Vale that I still keep in touch with, and I had a great relationship with the players last year, although many have moved on because of the changes they made in the summer.”
So, is Page expecting a warm welcome from the Vale Park faithful?
“Like any club you go to, you get your mixed reviews of course you do,” said the Cobblers boss.
“We certainly had a roller-coaster of emotions with regards to results over the two years that I was there as manager.
“It was very positive at the end, finishing in the top half of the table with limited resources, so I was pleased with what I did there.”
Following Page’s departure, Vale appointed Portuguese Bruno Ribeiro who set about restructuring the squad, but several players remain from Page’s reign, including the likes of Jack Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Sam Foley, Sam Kelly, Nathan Smith, Remi Streete and Anthony Grant, a player Page tried to bring to Sixfields, but who is suspended this weekend.
“There is a good group of players there that they have kept, although they have made wholesale changes and a lot have moved on,” said Page.
“They have had a good start, and it has been similar to us.
“They had a great result in the FA Cup on Sunday (beating Hartlepool United 4-0) so that will give them confidence, but we want results, we want to put it right and we will start fast on Saturday.”
The Cobblers travel to Vale Park without the injured Brendan Moloney (knee), Zander Diamond (fractured cheekbone) and the suspended John-Joe O’Toole, while JJ Hooper, who is on loan at Sixfields from the Valiants, is ineligible, although he is also carrying a thigh strain.
Town go into the game having not played for two weeks following the late postponement of their FA Cup second round tie at Stourbridge on Sunday, the same day Vale were dispatching league two Hartlepool United 4-0.