Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has issued a rallying call to Cobblers fans as his side continue to toil this season, asking them to show ‘more encouragement’ towards his players during games, after he was critical of the boos at full-time of Saturday’s goalless draw with Bury.
Entertaining the rock-bottom Shakers at Sixfields, Northampton extended their goal drought to over 400 minutes after scrappy game in which both sides missed chances, particularly the hosts.
Matt Crooks and Marc Richards twice went close for Town in a performance which represented a clear improvement on their tepid display in Tuesday’s defeat at Plymouth, but it was not enough to satisfy many home fans inside Sixfields.
There were a smattering of boos as Northampton’s players trudged off the pitch at full-time, which came on the back of audible moans and groans throughout the 90 minutes, admittedly amid some encouragement.
Hasselbaink says he understands fans’ disappointment given his side’s poor form and persistent struggles this season – Saturday was the 11th different game they’ve failed to score in – but he could not comprehend such negativity at the final whistle.
Northampton had been the better side for much of an attritional contest with fellow strugglers Bury but, after chances went begging, they once again failed to hit the net and therefore dropped a place in Sky Bet League One to remain in the relegation zone.
I’m a supporter of football and when I go to football, I don’t go to boo people. My boys put the shirts on and they wear those shirts very proudly for this club. They want to do everything. Do they do everything right? No. And that’s the same with me – I don’t do everything right but I want to for the fans and for the club.
“Look, we want to score, don’t get me wrong and we are doing everything in our power to score but sometimes we need a little bit more encouragement from the fans,” said Hasselbaink afterwards.
“It’s not nice, especially after this kind of performance, that we are walking off with boos because it’s not fair on the boys who are giving everything and have given everything.
“They’ve actually played well and on a different day it could have been 2-1 or 3-1 to us and I don’t understand that, it frustrates me a little bit.
“I’m a supporter of football and when I go to football, I don’t go to boo people. My boys put the shirts on and they wear those shirts very proudly for this club.
“They want to do everything. Do they do everything right? No. And that’s the same with me – I don’t do everything right but I want to for the fans and for the club.
“We played some really good, modern football. We tried to keep the ball on the deck and get overloads in certain areas.”
Saturday’s draw did at least stop the rot of three straight defeats but against a Bury side who have the worst away record in the division, expectations from most of those inside Sixfields were higher.
“I can understand but we are also in the bottom four and they’ve got a new manager as well so they have extra motivation,” added Hasselbaink.
“The margins in this league are very small so yes, I do understand their frustration, but I just want them to support us until the end and if there’s somebody to blame, blame me.
“Don’t blame the boys - they’re doing everything they can, everything, and that has to be said.
“They want to get it right and they are there to miss the chances and when that stops, then we have a problem.
“You have to give them the recognition and the courage that they want to go and score – we could have won and if you keep on performing like this and keep on putting in these type of displays, you’ll win a lot more than you draw or lose.
“I’m looking at the performance and the performance was very good.”
Hasselbaink also revealed that Crooks, who was arguably Northampton’s best player on the day, insisted on playing against Bury despite the midfielder feeling pain in his knee in the build-up to the game.
“Matt had pain in his knee on Friday but he insisted on playing because he wanted to help the boys,” added the Town manager.
“Fans don’t know that but he played an absolutely magnificent match. He missed a chance and he is so gutted that he misses the chance and then he has to walk off with boos. I don’t get that.”
Looking forward, Hasselbaink remains confident that his side will improve this season despite their ongoing battle for consistency.
“It’s going to improve, don’t get me wrong,” he continued. “We are going to get it right but there’s ups and downs and on Saturday, after Tuesday, it was such a good performance and I just wish we could have come off the pitch with a bigger smile.
“I’m smiling and I’m proud of my boys. We created chances and yes, we need to work harder to score but that’s the hardest thing in football.
“I’m not hiding and I’m not going to hide. We want to do what’s right for this club.”