Skipper Marc Richards has praised the big impact manager Justin Edinburgh has had on the Cobblers squad in his first two months in charge.
Town’s fortunes have improved dramatically since Edinburgh took the reins at Sixfields in mid-January following the sacking of Rob Page.
Six wins in his 12 league games in charge have steered the Cobblers away from the choppy waters of relegation, and although they are not mathematically safe yet, it is widely accepted one more win from their final seven games of the season should secure Town’s Sky Bet League One status.
That is an achievement in itself as Town looked to be in freefall under Page, and Richards believes the team’s transformation is down to the influence of the new manager, and the fact he has boosted confidence and positivity at Sixfields.
“There is a lot more positivity in the way we are playing, there is a lot more confidence in the group, and I think the gaffer has installed that,” said the 34-year-old striker ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Oxford United.
“He has given us the confidence to go out and play and enjoy ourselves, express ourselves and work as a unit.
There is a lot more positivity in the way we are playing, there is a lot more confidence in the group, and I think the gaffer has installed that. He has given us the confidence to go out and play and enjoy ourselves, express ourselves and work as a unitCobblers skipper Marc Richards
“It is all the things you expect from a team that has attacking players, that likes to attack and get forward and score goals.
“We have players that are desperate to get into the box and get on the end of things, especially the likes of John-Joe-O’Toole and Luke Williams, who is only going to get better as he goes along and builds on his fitness.
“Then there are players knocking on the door who can’t even get in the squad, but in most teams in this division might be playing week in, week out.”
And he added: “It goes deeper than confidence, although confidence is a massive thing in football.
“If you are short on confidence, then the ball becomes really small, but if you are high on confidence then the ball looks like a beach ball and is easier to control.
“You tend to see that pass a little bit sooner, and that shot comes off and hits the back of the net rather than fly over the bar, but it is more than confidence.
“It is working on shape, it is working on individual players, it’s working on yourself as a person and as a player, and your fitness as well, it is a combination of things.”
Richards highlighted the fact the players felt hard done by coming home pointless from Bolton Wanderers last weekend as an example of how things have got better under Edinburgh.
“We have gone to Bolton, put on a fairly solid performance, and come away with nothing and the lads are disappointed,” he said.
“I think a draw would have been a fair result, but unfortunately we were on the wrong end of a couple of poor refereeing decisions.
“I’m not sure it was a handball for the first, and there was a sniff of offside about the second, so we were disappointed but there were encouraging signs from the performance.
“In previous months we might have lost that game by much more, as they are a really good outfit Bolton and I have no doubt they will go up this season.”