Australian coaches in European professional football are rarer than hen’s teeth but a new addition has emerged in the UK in Northampton Town manager Jon Brady.
The English third division club appointed Brady as caretaker boss mid-week after the sacking of Keith Curle. Brady, who has been working for the relegation-threatened Cobblers for the past five years coaching the club’s Under-16 and Under-18 teams, has been given the first-team reins.
Northampton sit second from bottom in League One with just six wins from 26 matches.
“It was a surprise because I enjoy my job with the youth team, I enjoy developing players,” Brady told The World Game.
“I love what I do, I had a fantastic relationship with Keith Curle. He’s played a lot of our academy products. We’ve had 134 appearances in the first-team, which I think is a record in the EFL for developing players over the past two years.
“I was told on Wednesday afternoon that they’d relieved him of the managerial duties and then they asked me if I would like to take the reins. So it was a bit of a surprise.”
Brady was born and raised in the Hunter region and is a product of Adamstown Rosebud. The Novocastrian left Australia in 1991 as a teenager to chase a playing career in England and has spent the past three decades overseas.
The midfielder had spells in the English lower leagues, for clubs such as Hayes, Rushen & Diamonds, Chester City, Stevenage Borough, Cambridge United and Ketteting Town. After retiring Brady had six years coaching National League North side Brackley Town, leading the club to promotion, an FA Cup run and to several trophies, before departing in 2015.
Bookmakers have named the Australian as one of the favourite to be made permanent manager at Northampton, along with former England international Sol Campbell. But the 46-year-old says he is purely focused on winning the Cobblers’ next game.
“Obviously there’s no set time,” he admitted.
“I’ve said, speaking with the chairman openly and honestly, and it was just let’s go game-by-game. Truthfully it would selfish for me to look any further than each game. And first and foremost I really love my job developing at young talent. I think I’m very good at that.
“I’ve had first-team experience at Brackley and really enjoyed that. But I’m not looking any further than that. I’ll do the best to help the club get out of this position and that’s all we’re looking to do at this minute.”
Curle led Northampton to promotion from League Two through the playoffs last season, but this season has been a struggle. The club has failed to win any of its past seven games and the Cobblers’ last league victory came against Gillingham at the end of December.
“It has been a tough season,” Brady conceded.
“Keith surprised everyone, and did brilliantly well, by gaining promotion. I think the club should be in League One, minimum, and the other thing is their three best players last season – One was sold, one went back to their loan club and the other moved on as well.
“So that was tough, and then when you lose your three best and main players and you have to try and recruit well. And it was so late in the day and with Covid, when the players went to other clubs they were sold late and left late and just before the season started.
“So that was a good thing for the club in terms of finances but a body-blow if you’re the manager. But it is what it is now, we are where we are. All we have to do now is improve it and get results. Get us climbing that table as soon as we can.”
Northampton have scored just one goal in their past seven fixtures. Brady’s intent is to fix the club’s attack, starting with Saturday’s league match against Burton Albion, who boast their own Aussie in midfielder Ryan Edwards.
“You look at the league and our stats haven’t been great in terms of goals scored, shots on target,” he said.
“So we have to become a more offensive side but balance that off in the right way so we’re not counter-attacked against. We’ve had two days to work and implement things, and try and free them up a bit more, try and create some positive mindsets.
“I’m feeling quite calm about the game on Saturday because in two days we’ve been clear with what we feel we need as a group. I feel ready to go and the boys are chomping at the bit.”