Wanted! Any available players with experience please report to Bloomfield Road.
I know there’s the old phrase ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ but last night was as big an example I’ve seen of just how important a bit of know-how can be.
In the horror show of a first half at Sixfields last night it was men against boys as the home side ran riot against a shell-shocked looking Blackpool.
For weeks we’ve all talked about worries of the lack of game time in Pool’s squad, the lack of physical presence and last night it was highlighted.
Once things started to go in a terrible eight-minute period, Blackpool were desperate for a leader to grab the players by the scruff of the neck and get a grip of things.
Sadly Pool simply collapsed, it was chaotic and terrible to watch from a Pool point of view.
The ironic cheers from the supporters of a League Two side as McDonald’s men won a corner summed up just how bad the Seasiders were.
On Saturday I described Blackpool as work in progress and am not going to write-off this young team after one poor game, but real work needs to be done by the manager.
And I’d suggest that starts with some quick work in the transfer market, Blackpool need three more senior players – and fast.
So what went wrong last night?
Well for a start the 4-3-3 didn’t work, that goes without saying, and in the second half the 4-4-2 looked much better.
On top of that the Seasiders didn’t win their battles, didn’t defend properly and in the first half has very little threat going forward.
That said things did improve a little in the second half, sadly it was too little, too late.
Ahead of the game McDonald suggested he wouldn’t make too many changes, but in the end he made four and switched the formation.
After Saturday’s draw at Colchester the Pool boss consistently referred to Pool’s midfield not competing as much as he’d like so it was no surprise to see him switch to a 4-3-3.
Jose Cubero came into the middle to apparently shore things up, while Kwame Thomas made his first start for the Seasiders in a three-man attack.
In goal came Kyle Letheren who replaced the injured Colin Doyle, while Tom Aldred replaced Emmerson Boyce at right-back.
Boyce looked a little short of sharpness at Colchester having missed most of pre-season, so it’s a case of easing him in for McDonald.
It’s been a while since Blackpool travelled to Northampton, almost a decade in fact, and it’s all change.
While three sides of the stadium remain the same, there’s a new main stand being built at Sixfields which, along with the small crowd, almost gave the evening a reserve game sort of feel.
But it was far from that as the teams kicked-off on a perfect pitch on a lovely summer’s evening.
Sadly the conditions were the only thing which resembled perfect for McDonald’s men last night.
From the very first minute Blackpool found it tough and really struggled to cope with the movement and experience of Northampton’s lively side.
The warning signs were there early on, with the Cobblers hitting the woodwork twice in the opening ten minutes.
First Sam Hoskins rattled the bottom of the post after a superb run across Clark Robertson, before Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s glancing header found the top of the bar.
Pool’s narrow set-up was being exposed on either flank, with Northampton’s wingers having the freedom of Sixfields at times – and it was only a matter of time before it was made to count.
As the home side continued to dominate, on 20 minutes Blackpool’s under pressure back four finally buckled when midfield man Chris Hackett drifted into the area to fire home.
Just why he was allowed to run through totally unmarked was a mystery to all.
At this point Pool’s young guns were rattled, with body language suggesting we could be in for a very long evening and just four minutes later we saw why.
After pinball inside the Pool area the ball fell perfectly to Calvert-Lewin who quickly turned and fired past the helpless Letheren.
To be fair there was more than a bit of luck in the build-up, but it mattered not.
At this stage McDonald’s men totally collapsed, as did their shape, and there was no surprise it was soon three.
This time Hoskins got in the act, firing the third goal in eight minutes at the second attempt after McAlister’s initial block.
It was dreadful and there was no surprise to see some Pool fans head for the exit.
If there was going to be any hope of a comeback the Seasiders would have to hit back soon, sadly Jack Redshaw missed his second sitter in four days just after the half-hour mark.
Thomas did well on the wing before unselfishly feeding Redshaw who scuffed it in almost identical fashion to the weekend.
As he kicked the post in frustration you got the feeling he wished the ground would swallow him up.
Interestingly there were a handful of Pool fans who refused to pay to get into Sixfields, instead choosing to display Oyston Out banners on the huge hill behind the goal.
Their view of the field wasn’t the best, and I have to say I was a little jealous of them.
In an attempt to liven it up, McDonald made two changes at the break and switched back to a 4-4-2.
Samuel and Henry Cameron replaced the anonymous Brad Potts and Redshaw.
Sadly little changed, and two minutes into the second period it could have been four, only for a superb block from Tom Aldred who flung himself at an effort from former Fleetwood man Ryan Cresswell to deflect it over the bar.
After Connor Oliver replaced the ineffective Cubero, Blackpool carved up a very decent chance on 57 minutes, again it was scuffed at the key moment.
This time substitute Cameron did brilliantly to whip a ball into the box and the path of Thomas who should really have pulled one back.
Pool certainly improved after the changes and finally started to look to have a bit of a pattern of play in attack, and were at last appearing more comfortable in defence.
Samuel in particular made a real difference and caused problems with his direct style, but it was never going to be enough.
All-in-all it was a shocker for the Seasiders, and one which leaves McDonald with plenty of work to do.
Rather him than me.
Full time: Northampton 3 Blackpool 0