This summer has been a successful one for Justin Edinburgh and his Northampton Town side when it comes to new additions to the squad, but with over ten players making their way to Sixfields, it leaves the Cobblers manager a tough task of deciding which formation would be the most useful when it comes to the new season.
Firstly, Edinburgh will have to look at his options in each position and decide who he feels are the stronger players for league matches. Luckily for him, many of the new signings are versatile players, who are capable of playing in multiple positions when needed, especially some of the new midfielders that have been brought into the club. A great example of the versatility that Northampton now have is the first signing to have been made, Leon Lobjoit. The 22-year-old signed from Buckingham Town in late March after he had scored 62 goals in the 2016/17 season. Not only does Lobjoit possess a clear goal-scoring threat but he can also help out in defence when needed, as he spent time playing as a left-back when he was at MK Dons and in defensive midfield at Coventry City. Other very versatile players include Dean Bowditch and Sam Hoskins, who can both play up front and in midfield.
The most improved part of the re-vamped squad is the defence, with four central defenders signing for the Cobblers after the departures of every central defender from last season. With a whole new central defence in place, and with all four men wanting to play regular first team football, it will be interesting to see who starts and how many of them play regularly. The easy solution to this would be to play a formation that involves three central defenders and the formation that has been tried and tested is the 3-5-2. This was used in a 1-1 draw (losing on penalties) against Kettering Town in the Maunsell Cup final very recently and it would be a chance to get as many central defenders game time as possible, but of course, this would leave Justin Edinburgh with the tough task of leaving one player out. There isn’t a clear choice for this, especially considering one of the new recruits is Regan Poole. Poole has signed for the Cobblers on loan from Manchester United specifically to gain first team minutes.
Last season, Justin Edinburgh applied a diamond formation, with the opportunity for previous versatile midfielders to not only play in the middle of the park but also go out wide when needed. However, this formation was not very successful and it is unlikely that it will be used in the future. For Northampton’s first three friendlies, a 4-3-3 style formation was used, with two players sitting deep in midfield and one pushing forward to compliment the lone striker. This proved to be fairly successful as the Cobblers would go on to beat Sileby Rangers 8-2, Birmingham Development Squad 4-1 and Frome Town 4-0. This formation seems to also be quite popular among fans and would be the most likely choice for the new campaign.
Another option for Edinburgh to think about is the return of the 4-2-3-1 formation which Chris Wilder implemented to give Northampton 99 points and a League 2 title back in 2016. The issue would be the lack of game time that younger attackers would gain as only one striker can play at a time. This may lead to a few players needing loans away from the club, including Joe Iaciofano and Billy Waters with Marc Richards (the club captain) seeming like the obvious choice for the striker position.
With all this in mind, it will be interesting to see which formation Justin Edinburgh will implement and if it will be successful or not. Fans of Northampton Town are very optimistic about the new season and picking the right players and the right tactics will be crucial if Northampton want to progress further up the League 1 standings in the 2017/18 season.
Featured Image Credit: Matt Churchill