Keith Curle has thrown down the gauntlet to his players ahead of next month’s transfer window, challenging them to prove they have the necessary ‘desire and ability’ when it matters most – on gameday – to follow him on his ‘journey’ with the Cobblers.
Curle was speaking in the aftermath of Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Crawley Town when Kevin van Veen’s second-half spot-kick settled the contest and handed Northampton their first league win in over a month, lifting them up to 14th in League Two.
Despite the victory though, Curle was critical of elements of his side’s display at the Broadfield Stadium after they made hard work of beating a Crawley team that had 10 men for the final half-hour.
The Town boss has previously suggested players who don’t ‘adjust’ to his demands could leave the club, and with the January transfer window fast approaching, he repeated his wish to see more from his squad.
“We just needed more belief, more quality and better understanding,” said Curle when discussing Saturday’s performance. “We get that by continuing to work.
“I didn’t think we used the ball well enough and we didn’t give enough options for the man on the ball and at times we picked the wrong options, but within that we came away from home and kept a clean sheet, showed good endeavour and good willingness to work.
The players still need to show me a little bit more. I see it through the week in training but then on gameday they go into their shell a little bit.
“The players still need to show me a little bit more. I see it through the week in training but then on gameday they go into their shell a little bit.
“They’re a group of players who are growing in confidence and belief, but they need to come out of their shell.”
Curle has spoken about the ‘journey’ he wants to go on with the Cobblers in recent weeks, and how some current players might not fit the ‘puzzle’ he wants to create at the club.
“We are a work in progress and there’s a journey to go on,” he added. “It’s not just saying ‘I want to come on that journey’ because you need to come on the journey and you need to be able to show me and demonstrate to me that, through the week and on Saturdays, you have the ability, the skillset and the desire to come on board with me.
“The foundation is bravery, no fear, ability and being able to express yourself on Saturdays, not only through the week. You don’t gain points on Thursdays or on Tuesdays (when there’s not a match).
“We must make sure that that quality is there on gameday.”