Keith Curle says he ‘understands’ why fans continue to be frustrated by his side’s lack of progress this season, but he has warned it will only take ‘time and transfer windows’ to change the ‘culture and environment’ of the club.
Picking up the pieces from Dean Austin at the start of October, Curle has struggled to address Town’s inconsistency problems that have plagued their season and prevented them from moving into the top half and challenging for the play-offs.
I’ve got until the end of the season when the window opens and I’ll have the opportunity to improve the technical, tactical, physical and mental environment that we’re working in.
Cobblers have shown glimpses of form during his five months in charge, most notably during October and November when they won six in seven games, and also last month’s impressive 3-0 win over Carlisle United, as well as their recent 2-1 triumph at Tranmere Rovers.
But those are two of just three victories in their last 19 games, a run that dates back to early November and culminated on Saturday when Town were held to a bore draw at home to 17th-placed Crawley Town.
That combination of poor form and Saturday’s dour contest prompted a section of fans to boo the players off at full-time, and Curle says he can see why patience is wearing thin for some.
“I understand the frustrations of the fans because there are aspirations and a desire for the football club to go in the right direction,” admitted the Town boss.
“I need it to go that direction too but at the minute we’re lacking a little bit of quality and a bit of creativity in the final third.”
If you took the League Two table from the time of Curle’s appointment to the present day, the Cobblers would be 10th with 32 points from 23 games, five points off the play-offs and 12 adrift of league leaders Bury.
But whilst the former Carlisle United manager looks to have at least ensured Town will avoid relegation to non-league this season, it feels as if progress has stalled in recent weeks.
However, despite making adjustments to the squad in January – with six leaving and five arriving – Curle says he will need more time and also several transfer windows to get the Cobblers back on track.
“I’ve got until the end of the season when the window opens and I’ll have the opportunity to improve the technical, tactical, physical and mental environment that we’re working in,” he added.
“It does take transfer windows to change the culture and change the environment we’re working in. I was at Carlisle for nearly four years and I don’t think there was one player that came on that journey with me.
“That took time and this will take time because we’re not going to throw money at it and there’s not going to be an abundance of money and a changing room full of players.
“We need to show good housekeeping and work within the budget that’s supplied to the footballing department. It will take a bit of time but the building blocks are in place.
“There wasn’t a winning mentality within the club when I came after relegation last season and then sitting at the wrong end of the table, but being difficult to beat has got to be part of the DNA of the team. If things don’t come off, we’ve got to make sure we don’t get beat.”