Give Chris credit for care­free Cob­blers...

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - Danny Gab­bidon

CON­FI­DENCE is a big thing in foot­ball. With­out it, you tend to over­think things.You make mis­takes. Ev­ery game is like climb­ing a moun­tain. But when you’re fly­ing, the op­po­site is true.You don’t even think.The game just flows.There’s no­body you fear.You look for­ward to play­ing the top teams.You think you can smash the strug­glers.The next game can’t come quick enough.

Which is ex­actly how Northamp­ton must feel. Chris Wilder’s Cob­blers have won ten straight games and went into this week­end 12 points clear at the top of League Two. At this rate, they could be up by the end of March.

In­cred­i­ble

It’s an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment, and all the more im­pres­sive for all the off-field shenani­gans they’ve had to deal with.

They’ve fought off a windin­gup pe­ti­tion. Come close to bank­ruptcy. Be­fore Kelvin Thomas’ con­sor­tium took over in Novem­ber, the PFA had to step in and pay the play­ers’ wages.

I know from ex­pe­ri­ence how tricky it is to ig­nore that kind of thing.

When I was at West Ham, Björgól­fur Guð­munds­son bought the club and started splash­ing the cash. Next thing you know, he’d lost pretty much all of his money in the Ice­landic bank­ing crash.

It was even worse just be­fore I left Cardiff in 2005.We ac­tu­ally went into ad­min­is­tra­tion.We were com­ing in and there were lit­er­ally play­ers leav­ing left, right and cen­tre.

One day you’d be train­ing with a guy who’d been there for years. The next, he was on the road some­where go­ing for a med­i­cal, pushed out the door for a few quid.

I was only 24 but I ended up be­ing cap­tain be­cause the ac­tual skip­per – Gra­ham Ka­vanagh – had been sold to Wi­gan.

You try to play and train like nor­mal but it’s hard when you’re not be­ing paid. At that level, no­body is earn­ing Premier League money.You go a cou­ple of months with­out wages and you have se­ri­ous prob­lems.You’re wor­ry­ing about the club. All the best play­ers are leav­ing and morale goes through the floor. It’s tough.

But Northamp­ton dealt with that ever so well and, even at its worst, there was no sign that it ever af­fected them. I think Chris Wilder has to take a lot of credit for that.

He’s the one who has to fo­cus minds on foot­ball. He’s the one who has to com­mu­ni­cate what’s hap­pen­ing up­stairs to the play­ers whilst also get­ting re­sults.

Chris has seen it all be­fore – in 2008 when Hal­i­fax Town club went bust and he was left out of a job – and he’s ob­vi­ously done a very good job of in­su­lat­ing the play­ers from all the chaos.

When he left Ox­ford to join Town in Jan­uary 2014, a lot of eye­brows were raised. At the time, they were bot­tom of the league. Now it looks like a mas­ter­stroke.

Of course, it will get tougher. When the fin­ish­ing line gets closer and the pres­sure is on, things won’t flow so nat­u­rally.

But they’ll eas­ily have enough. The lads clearly want to play for Chris. They’ve got a good squad, prob­a­bly the two best strik­ers in the divi­sion in James Collins and Marc Richards. As a com­bi­na­tion they’re a hand­ful for any de­fender.

Ricky Holmes is in good form. They beat Ox­ford, who are prob­a­bly the best foot­balling side in the divi­sion. They beat Wy­combe. They’re strong at the back, men­tally ro­bust. Ba­si­cally, there are no weak­nesses. They will walk it.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LOOK­ING ROSE-Y: Danny Rose cel­e­brates scor­ing Northamp­ton’s win­ner against Wy­combe last week­end and, in­set, man­ager Chris Wilder

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