Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has given his full backing to defender Joe Bunney and says disgruntled fans should ‘stimulate’ individual players when they are struggling during games at Sixfields instead of getting on their backs.
After a good start to his Northampton career, when he claimed two assists in his first two games after signing from Rochdale in January, Bunney has since gone off the boil and been singled out for criticism by fans both at games and on social media.
Like many of his team-mates, he especially struggled during Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Rotherham United when home fans began to show their frustration at several players as the Cobblers limped to another disappointing defeat, beaten by goals from Michael Smith, David Ball and Richie Towell.
Bunney was at fault for the first goal when his misjudgement allowed Will Vaulks’ deep free-kick to find its way through to former Town striker Smith, who finished into the bottom corner to open the scoring on 18 minutes.
The former Rochdale man understandably looked low on confidence thereafter, misplacing several passes and crosses, but Hasselbaink, despite promising changes for the visit of Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday, still has complete faith in the 24-year-old having signed him in the January transfer window.
“I’m not going to take him out of the firing line,” he said. “I’ll keep backing him. We’ve got nine more matches and we all need to be together.”
I understand the boos but when a player gives a bad pass and you get on top of him, it doesn’t help the player. You’re a fan and you can help the player.
Hasselbaink has made his disappointment with fans’ decision to boo clear throughout his seven months in charge, most notably after goalless draws with Oxford United and Bury.
And while he understood why so many again vented their frustration at the full-time whistle of Saturday’s defeat to Rotherham, it was what happened during the game that irritated the Town boss.
“Don’t get me wrong, I understood against Oxford that the fans wanted us to win, but we are doing everything that we can,” he explained.
“I understand the boos but when a player gives a bad pass and you get on top of him, it doesn’t help the player. You’re a fan and you can help the player.
“They are entitled to be upset because they’re paying good money to come and watch and it was not good enough on Saturday.
“But I want them to have a go at whatever was not good enough after the game. Stimulate the boys that are giving the bad passes during the game because it happens to the best.
“It helps them dare to do it again and that’s what football is about. That’s my only thing because I’m not having a go at my fans, I wouldn’t, and I don’t mean in it that way. They’re allowed to be upset.
“I just want us to be all together on good and on bad days, that’s the only thing I ask. Sometimes, when we have our back against the wall, they can lift us and that’s the only thing that I’m asking.”