Up until now, there has been a pensive, let’s see how things go feel about our season. Suddenly the game, as it were, is on and the prospect of promotion is becoming a real one. Perhaps it’s the feeling that we’re coming good just as the mid-season slog turns into the end of season run-in. If this was a middle distance race, we’d be sitting on the shoulder of the leader, perfectly positioned.
A combination of the short schlep up the A43 and our current form saw a massive 1,600 strong surge of positivity descend on Sixfields on Saturday. Northampton marked a sudden release, the sort of energy burst amongst the fans that was evident last season. Although last season we were well equipped to handle the expectations on the pitch.
That’s not so true this season. We haven’t kept a clean sheet since God was a boy, we’ve yet to truly nail our best midfield or attacking options, McLean – the man who gives us new striking dimensions hasn’t exactly got a hatful, whilst we’re only just starting to warm to Tom Craddock, who is scoring. Good though the results have been and the prospects still are, this season’s squad has yet to gel and, in that respect, we still haven’t found our mojo.
Look at the table and you could reasonably argue that everyone from Crewe in 6th to Burton in 20th might still consider themselves contenders for the play-offs. We sit comfortably amongst that massive pack, and whilst we may still sneak into the top seven, we still shouldn’t be expecting it.
But then, my own weekend, which didn’t include Sixfields, was a bit of a stuttering mess of unfulfilled plans and feral children. When that happens the rolling, unending soap opera of your football club provides the perfect diversion. Chris Wilder, Kelvin Thomas and the players can be serious about football. As fans we can be too earnest about tactics, football politics and financial meltdowns, any radio phone-in will tell you that. My head says we’re not ready for promotion and Northampton proved it. But, perhaps we should enjoy the indulgence of our absurd expectations and the resulting highs and lows. If we get promoted whilst being incapable of defending a corner, then that sounds like a lot of fun rather than something to be truly concerned about.