The best ideas in the world don't count for a great deal if you haven't got players big enough to hold their nerve when the going gets tough, so it's just as well for Northampton that Aidy Boothroyd was able to recruit a couple of new faces before the January window shut.
The captures of Clarke Carlisle and Ben Harding could be hugely significant to the Cobblers' chances of avoiding the drop into non-league and we now can't resist boldly backing them to take something from their game against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, in spite of the wretched form they take to Victoria Road.
Carlisle is often touted as Britain's brainiest footballer and he certainly talks a good game, which is exactly what Northampton need on the pitch right now, because while it's clear that Boothroyd is getting his tactics across in pre-match team talks, everything is falling apart once opponents react and the players have to think for themselves.
Consider how the Cobblers have taken the lead in seven of their last nine matches only to finish up with just five points from a possible 21.
Clearly, they need some guidance to close games out and while we accept the caveat that Carlisle's wise words can sometimes flatter to deceive - Leo Messi would struggle to live up to such eloquence! - he's evidently a class above the level he's now pitching himself in at - just like his manager.
Harding, meanwhile, lets his feet do the talking and his sensible distribution in the centre of midfield will allow Northampton to control the tempo of games much better. Throw in Chris Weale, the capable cat who arrived on loan from Leicester earlier in the window, and Boothroyd now has a spine that's capable of standing up to far more than the team he inherited at the end of November.
Dagenham have given themselves a fighting chance of survival with a couple of timely home wins over Christmas having freshened things up themselves with a couple of loan signings on the back of a televised FA Cup replay against Bath but now the impetus provided by Michael Spillane and Cristian Montano is starting to wear thin.
John Still's men did come from behind to beat Rotherham 3-2 in their last outing but the Millers are in a mess at the moment and the simple fact remains that Daggers had lost 16 out of 18 matches either side of the festive period prior to that pick-me-up against the Yorkshire club.
3pts Northampton (+0.25) to beat Dagenham on the Asian handicap at evens (general)Reuse content