Skipper Ash Taylor says he would be happy for Dean Austin to become the new Cobblers boss on a permanent basis, declaring ‘the club is better with him than without him’.
Austin has been in caretaker charge since the sacking of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at the beginning of April, and although he has been unable to halt the club’s slide into Sky Bet League Two, he has made a definite impression.
Having gone nine games without a win before taking control of team affairs, Austin has overseen two wins and two defeats from his four matches in charge, and will be aiming for a third victory when Oldham Athletic come to Sixfields on Saturday (ko 5.30pm) for the final game of the campaign.
Unfortunately, the second of those defeats suffered under Austin, an undeserved 1-0 loss at Walsall on Saturday, all but sealed Town’s relegation from league one, barring the footballing miracle of a 9-0 win over the Latics this weekend.
Austin will not speak about whether or not he wants to tay in the top job or not until after the end of the season, stating that was the arrangement with chairman Kelvin Thomas, but Taylor is more than happy to give his opinion.
And he says the 48-year-old former Watford assistant manager deserves the chance to have a crack at helping the Cobblers bounce back next season.
I have nothing but respect for Dean and the way he works. He demands the best out of people in training every day, he sets his standardsCobblers skipper Ash Taylor
“I have nothing but respect for Dean and the way he works,” said Taylor, who was signed on a three-year contract by then boss Justin Edinburgh last summer.
“He demands the best out of people in training every day, he sets his standards, and if you don’t match them he is more than willing to tar you.
“He is honest, he’s an honest man off the field as well and I have a good relationship with him.
“If he got the job, the club is better with him than without him.”
There was some criticism for Austin’s decision making late in the game at the Bescot Stadium last weekend.
As it transpired, due to Oldham drawing and Rochdale losing their matches, a point from the clash with the Saddlers would have given the Cobblers a realistic chance of avoiding the drop with a win this weekend.
But Austin gambled on getting the victory the Cobblers needed to put their fate totally in their own hands, bringing on strikers Chris Long and Kevin van Veen, and also pushing central defender Taylor up front.
The decision backfired as van Veen and Long struggled to make any impact and Walsall scored through George Dobson from a stoppage time counter-attack to win the game, but Taylor felt Austin’s decision was the right one, while bemoaning the fact he feels the team has been too negative on occasions this season.
“Dean rolled the dice and it came up short and sometimes that happens,” said the former Aberdeen man.
“He has gone for it, unlike sometimes this season when we haven’t gone for it, and he has gone for a bit of luck but it hasn’t happened for him.
“He’s tried to make a positive impact putting two strikers on, but it just wasn’t to be and the ball just wouldn’t go in.”
And he added: “You can see it Dean’s his substitutions, he is positive and he is going for it, and that is what we have lacked this season at times.
“We have sat back a bit in drawing some games, without going for it, and you live and die by it, and sometimes these things just happen.
“Dean is a very positive person, you can see that with the lads and how he has regrouped us all, and how he has rejuvenated the club, he has been fantastic.”
Taylor and rest of the Cobblers players are still coming to terms with the fact they will be playing in the Football League basement division next season, but the former Tranmere Rovers defender admits the relegation has been deserved - even if he felt they were worthy of the win at the weekend.
“It is very disappointing, and there is no hiding the fact that we haven’t been good enough over the course of the season,” said Taylor, who has started 51 of Town’s 52 matches this season.
“It would have been nice to go into the last game with something to hold on to, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
“At Walsall we had numerous chances, Powelly (Daniel Powell) hit the post early on, and I am sure if that goes in then we go on to win the game comfortably.
“The ball just wouldn’t go in the back of the net for us, and then it has unfortunately left us in the situation we are in now.”
Town have no fresh injury concerns for the visit of Oldham this weekend, although Matt Crooks’ ongoing hamstring problem will be monitored.
Despite the Cobblers being on the brink of relegation on Saturday, a big crowd is expected at Sixfields.
Oldham need a win to ensure their league one survival, with anything less opening the door for Rochdale to overhaul them, and they are set to bring close to 1,500 supporters south.