Boothroyd confident Northampton Town can emulate Watford play-off success

For Aidy Boothroyd, Northampton is beginning to look a lot like Watford.

The current Cobblers boss cut his teeth with the unfashionable Hertfordshire club seven years ago when, as an upstart 34-year-old, he took them to the top level of English football.

For such an achievement the two will be forever linked. After recently completing a managerial tour that has taken in all 92 League grounds, Boothroyd was asked to name his favourite footballing venues.

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His instant answer was of course Sixfields, but he said Vicarage Road fairly soon afterwards.

In 2006, it was a play-off final that took the Hornets to the Premier League.

Believers in fate will have noted that the Cobblers also enjoyed a promotion that year, moving up to league one under Colin Calderwood.

Seven years on, Boothroyd admits he is a much different man to the one that was in charge of Watford – “there is more humility about me these days” – but in the past fortnight he has had to dial back to those experiences in a bid to replicate the outcome of his latest play-off final.

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Watford thrashed Leeds 3-0 at the Millennium Stadium on May 21, 2006. There is nothing to suggest this year’s game against his hometown club Bradford City will be as one-sided, but Boothroyd is keen to stress the comparisons between Watford then and Northampton now.

“Coming to Northampton was one of those decisions in my life that could have gone either way,” he said.

“It could have gone downward or it could have worked out, and I have a good feeling about the people I’m working with.

“I like it here and it does remind me a lot of Watford, I have to say. The people in the offices, the staff we’ve got and the players’ attitudes are all exactly what we need them to be.

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“We finished the job off when we were at Watford and we need to make sure we do the same here this season.”

Never understimate the redemptive power of sporting success. Northampton were seen as somewhat fortunate to secure the services of Boothroyd when they appointed him as manager 19 months ago.

The nature of the deal that brought him to Sixfields, a one-year rolling contract, suggested Boothroyd was in town to restore both the club’s and his own reputation as swiftly as possible before progressing to a more illustrious club.

The manager has always been at pains to point out this is not the case, that his Town tenure is being viewed very much as a project. Again, the Watford comparisons continue.

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But if the team is successful, and wins the play-off final today (ko 1.30pm), his reputation will be enormously enhanced.

It will also have restored some of Boothroyd’s own fondness for the sport, a love that was on the wane when he was sacked by Coventry City in March 2011.

“This game means a lot for me personally because I was quite sore as a manager when I came out of Coventry,” he said.

“When you’re on the managerial merry-go-round you have a lot of ups and downs and it’s like the stock market really, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down.

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“I came to Northampton because I liked the people at the club and I liked the potential at the club.

“We have turned it around but until we get something tangible and that we can put our hands on then we can’t say that we have done anything yet.”

It is fair to say, though, that the job has already been partly done, regardless of the outcome this afternoon.

But for the club, and for Boothroyd, Wembley glory would mean so, so much.