1 Players Out of Position
Both Hasselbank and his predecessor Justin Edinburgh had an abundance of talent, on paper atleast, at their disposal. Utilising the players on the club's books was another matter altogether.
As former Town manager Ian Atkins eluded to in a recent interview, successful Town squads in the past have been built around player's strengths rather than exposing their weaknesses. A case in point is Joe Bunney. An excellent crosser of the ball and genuine attacking threat on the left flank, but weak defensively, the former Rochdale man was regularly left exposed by Hasselbaink when playing him as a left back.
2 Lack of Characters and Unity
The 2015/16 team had leaders and fighters, throughout the pitch. From Zander Diamond at the heart of the defence, O'Toole battling in the middle, the inspirational David Buchanan at left back and Marc Richards leading from the front. One unit all fighting for the same cause, galvanised by a true leader in the dug out, even when for a long period they weren't being paid!
Contrast this to the current squad; Dutch import Kevin Van Veen still apparently wishes he was at Scunthorpe, Buchanan was frozen out for the majority of the season by Hasselbaink, O'Toole's battling nature often bubbling over into frustration and anger. The overstaffed and some would say overpaid squad have shown no stomach for a fight all season save a few rare occasions.
A lack of progress off the pitch has contributed to the sense of gloom at Sixfields. From the 5uSport debacle to the lack of redevelopment. To paraphrase former manager Chris Wilder: "how long have we got to look at that unfinished east stand?".
4 The Royal Wedding
As the wheels well and truly came off the Hasselbaink regime, club insiders began to break rank and reveal the underlying reason behind the club's poor form; the majority of the players had an altogether different match on their minds; the upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and former Suits actress Meghan Markle!
"It started off small," the anonymous club employee divulged, "there was light hearted training ground banter when Shay Facey and Matt Crooks turned up late because they admitted they'd been watching royal correspondent Camilla Tomniney on ITV's Lorraine speculating how Meghan would adapt to life as a royal."
But things soon spiraled out of control.
"People blame Jimmy for his erratic team selection, but in most cases he had no choice. Jack Bridge and Shaun McWilliams went awol at one point. Both nursing apparent "stomach bugs" then somebody at the club checked their instagram accounts and there they were, 'selfies' of the two of them together waving little union jacks in the front row as Harry and Meghan met the crowds at Cardiff castle."
"Look at Matt Grimes, easily the best free kick taker at the club. His late miss against Scunthorpe was the difference between one and three points. He'd told the gaffer he'd been staying behind in training to practice, in reality him and John Pemberton had spent the majority of the time talking about Meghan's bridesmaids. This soon escalated into a bit of a bust up when Matt insisted Jessica Mulroney would likely overshadow Meghan if she got the nod as maid of honour.
The Dutch lads, Jimmy included, felt totally left out. No wonder Kevin Van Veen mopes about the place sulking all day, so would you if you'd had Dave Buchanan in your face mocking you over the abdication of Queen Beatrix in 2013."
'No way is she gonna get an invite, she couldn't finish her time as head of the House of Orange so I doubt she'd get through a wedding breakfast prepared by executive chef Ebbi Buchmann' the former Bury and Preston North End full back is alleged to have said.
"The final straw came when Jimmy returned from a meeting with Kelvin Thomas after the Charlton game. Jimmy had promised the chairman he'd get things back on track in time for the derby with Peterborough and they both arrived at the training ground together. The lads were supposed to be out on the pitch with Dean doing drills. When they walked in and found the whole lot of them gathered in the canteen gossiping about Harry's beard while flicking through Hello, Kelvin totally lost the plot and stormed out."
Things didn't get much better after Hasselbaink's sacking.
"When Dean Austin took over as caretaker there was talk of a united front with everyone pulling together to avoid relegation but there is a definite split in the camp and it's all about the dress. During training earlier in the week they were at each other's throats. The younger lads think Meghan should go for classic American glamour like Oscar de la Renta but the more senior pros think this would be a slap in the face to the royal family and she should go for something more traditional like Alexander McQueen. The tackles were flying in."
A spokesperson from Clarence House said:
"His Royal Highness Prince Harry and Miss Markle are thrilled and grateful for the attention shown by the players and staff at Northampton Town Football Club and wish the club the best of luck with the remainder of their league one campaign.
They would both also like to strongly recommend Kelvin Thomas appoint a young up and coming manager as soon as possible rather than another one from the managerial merry go round, someone like the Cowley brothers at Lincoln obviously not them as they are too good now, maybe Kevin Wilkin he's done well at Brackley. If not him then Graham Alexander."