Justin Edinburgh believes Sky Bet League One is going to be ‘more competitive’ this season, and that ‘a pack’ of clubs will be setting their sights on a place in the promotion play-offs.
The Town boss feels there is not going to be a standout club that will run away with things as Sheffield United did last term, but that overall there is going to be more strength in depth to the division.
I think as a club we have to look at progression again, and what we have to try to make sure we do is finish in the top half this season, and to try to be in that top half from start to finishCobblers boss Justin Edinburgh
Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United were relegated from the Championship, while Portsmouth, Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Blackpool were promoted from league two.
There are some big clubs and big wallets in that group, and although Edinburgh admits the Cobblers’ budget is likely to be a mid-table one next season, he is confident the team will over achieve, and is targeting being in the top half of the division throughout the campaign.
“Our budget is a mid-table one, it is in there with the clubs from 10th down I would have thought,” said the Cobblers boss.
“But I will say to the group as we step back through the door for pre-season, that our aim and our ambition has to be to overachieve.
“That is what we have to try to do, and if we can do that then we’ll see where that takes us.
“I think as a club we have to look at progression again, and what we have to try to make sure we do is finish in the top half this season, and to try to be in that top half from start to finish.
“We have to try to have a real consistency and try to make another step to improving on what we did last season.”
And he added: “Overall, the teams that have come down and come in will all feel they have an opportunity to be successful.
“In terms of spending power, I believe Wigan will be strong, and Portsmouth are a big club, but they are still waiting for their takeover to go ahead, so they might miss this window.
“I think it’s an open league, but I think it’s a more competitive league, rather than any runaway team, like Sheffield United or Bolton with their £6m or £7m budgets.
“I do think Wigan will have a big budget to go and work with, and after that there will be other bigger ones as well, but there will then be a pack that will think a top six finish is a possibility.”
The Cobblers still have plenty of work to do in terms of recruitment befor ehte new season starts, with a goalkeeper, three central defenders, and a couple of other players needed as a minimum.
It is now a week since a player was signed, with Billy Waters joining last Thursday, but plenty of going on behind the scenes as Edinburgh and chairman Kelvin Thomas try to get deals over the line.
And the manager is full of praise for the support he has received from his chairman, with Waters being the second player the club have paid money for this season, following on from left-back George Smith from Gateshead.
“The chairman has backed me from the day I have been here, and certainly with the two lads we have bought for the club over the summer,” said Edinburgh.
“That is something we have spoken about, and when I came in we started to get things in place in terms of recruitment and identifying these young player.
“This is no disrespect to anybody, but these lads are not players who are circulating season after season, week after week, they are players that have been rejected and have quickly gone to a level, which might have been their level, and they might have had to stay at that level.
“But they have responded quickly, and that is the kind of young player we are looking for.
“We want to get the right balance at this football club, and in Billy and George that is what we have done, and hopefully we can bring a couple more of those into the club in the coming weeks.
“So I am delighted with the chairman’s backing and support, and I know that will continue.”