Why Northampton Town should go all out for Darren Ferguson after sacking Dean Austin

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 01 October 2018, 13:35

Dean Austin was dismissed as Northampton Town manager on Sunday night.

Although results had gone awry in the first two months of the season, it was Saturday’s trip to Mansfield where things truly unravelled.

The Cobblers not only lost 4-0, they mustered just three shots – of which only one was on target – in a game in which they were behind as early as the fifth-minute.

In Austin’s post-match interview, he perhaps let his emotions get the better of him, suggesting that no manager could get more out of that group of players: “good luck with that” a line that suggested all was not well within the camp.

It is unfortunate, in some ways, that Austin is the one man who pays for this poor start with his job, when there are various other people within the club across various departments who must also take responsibility.

The players have not performed to their full capabilities while chairman Kelvin Thomas has appointed four different managers since Chris Wilder left in 2016; Robert Page, Justin Edinburgh, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Austin have arguably all taken hits to their reputations.

It is vital that Thomas and the board get this next appointment right to re-build the trust of supporters.

We reckon Darren Ferguson is the man they should go all out for – here’s why.


His methods suit the squad

Northampton possess a lot of players who, on paper at least, are of a high-calibre for League Two level.

Let’s not forget, six members of the last starting eleven were signed in 2017, when Northampton were putting money behind their attempts to push for the Championship.

While their pedigree might not have been evident on the pitch over the last 14 months, we should still expect this team to try to impose itself on games and dominate the ball.

It is too early for Northampton to target only survival and appoint an overly defensive tactician.

They therefore need somebody who will begin to create a playing identity and, if not bridge the nine-point gap to achieve a top seven finish this season, then at least lay foundations for a promotion push in 2019-20.

Darren Ferguson wants his sides to retain possession shrewdly; considering that this squad doesn’t have a big target man, but does possess midfield technicians like John-Joe O’Toole and Matt Crooks, his methods could work nicely.

He’ll instil discipline

Although Dean Austin is 48, he took the permanent job with little experience of managing senior players in the EFL; his only previous stint as a number one had been at non-league Farnborough in the mid-noughties.

It appears that he has found it difficult to go from being an assistant for six months to being the main man, capable of making ruthless decisions.

Darren Ferguson will have no such problems.

There was one occasion last season, when his Doncaster Rovers side were losing at MK Dons and Matty Blair was one of the worst performers on the day.

Fergie had the chutzpah to take off his captain before half-time; replacement Alfie Beestin proved key to the turnaround in a 2-1 victory.

The former Peterborough boss is a very strong character and Northampton need that from the next man at the helm.

Sir Alex is well

Even from a neutral perspective, it was great to see Sir Alex Ferguson return to Old Trafford in good health last month, after having emergency surgery in May due to a brain haemorrhage.

Of course, family comes before football and uncertainty over his father’s health might have been part of the reason why Darren Ferguson left his post as Doncaster manager in early June.

Now that Sir Alex is in good health, it seems plausible that he would want his son to get his career back on track.

Promotion specialist

Ferguson has won four promotions in his career; three with Peterborough and one, most recently, with Doncaster.

In fact, current striker Andy Williams made 37 league appearances when Donny went up automatically in 2016-17.


Contrary to suggestions that supporters would react negatively to the club appointing a Posh legend, it could in fact make success even sweeter; much like Peterborough fans are enjoying the form of Ivan Toney, a Cobblers academy graduate.

In the Glaswegian’s two full seasons as a manager at this level, his sides have won automatic promotion, scoring 84 and 85 goals; nearly two per game.

Much has gone wrong for Northampton in the post-Wilder era – but Ferguson is the man to lead them back on an upward curve.

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