The Dawn of a New Season
How was the summer for yourselves? For me anyway it feels that although we find ourselves yet again entering a new season the final day at Peterborough United seems an eternity ago.
So have are we ready to take on the bookies favourites like Norwich City and Leeds United? Can we compete with the others who are expected to do well like Huddersfield Town, Charlton Athletic or even Milton Keynes Dons.
Or will we get be rubbish and end up in the dreaded drop for the second time this decade?
The problem is that Swindon are firmly lodged within a group of League One teams where it really could go either way. We could find ourselves in the same mess as last season or we could be pushing the Play-Off pack or lastly experience a dull season where we do neither and remain in a state of football purgatory! It happens.
Danny Wilson expects but reading and listening to comments it appears that we, the fans, don't expect much at all.
Saying that it's not all doom and gloom but after years of expectancy after promise after promise from former managers and players alike, it seems as though we've been here before doesn't it?
I for one have a lot of time for Danny Wilson and I honestly do think that long term he is the right man for the job - it's how quick he can do this that will worry many? Maybe I'm wrong there.
The improvements made have been encouraging. Instead of a two-keeper battle for the No.1 jersey we have 3. This has suprised many people for several reasons but if we're serious about progressing to the next level we must be challanging our goalkeepers so they don't get comfortable.
The Phil Smith vs. Peter Brezovan battle from 2006-2009 was pretty painful at times and it appeared that when one made an error, the other came in and this was repeated far too many times throughout their 3 seasons togather at Swindon. It can be argued that it ruined Brezovan long term.
Phil Smith is an adequate 'keeper at this level and made several superb saves to keep us out of the relegation places in those final weeks. However, in David Lucas we have experience both with bigger clubs and higher divisions - that could prove quite valuable. He had never played for a team located in the South before his move to Swindon, a clear indication of how well Wilson is 'selling' our club to players.
...and then you have the arrival of the Polish goalkeeper Jakub Jesionkowski, the Polish U-21 who is the long-term threat. He may make 2 appearances for Swindon or 200 but he is there to remind the other two that if they don't perform to the standard required then Jesionkowski is in.
One of, if not the biggest problem Swindon had last season was its truly awful defensive record.
Jamie Vincent came back and did okay, but whatever reason whether it be age, ability or discipline he now plays for Walsall. Also, Jack Smith - a player who was probably one of our most consistant players last season for large spells. He lost his place near the end of the season and now finds himself back in London with Millwall (who had a good season).
Although these two departures created some debate within fan forums and such there was one thing you could mostly agree on, that it was unlikely that these two players could ever play within a Championship pushing side at Swindon.
That is Danny Wilson's aim, he wants a side that is capable of better things. To do this one must disregard the niceties.
Jerel Ifil and Hasney Aljofree probably wouldn't have survived the cull had they been out-of-contract but with Peter Shirtliff's guidance I believe that Ifil may thrive once more.
Also, it is pretty clear for me that Aljofree didn't see eye-to-eye with Maurice Malpas this resulted in frustration and eventual confrontation with the fans - which was inexcusable. For many Hasney is finished at Swindon, we will wait and see whether Wilson feels the same.
It's a big season for Sean Morrison because the way things are going if he plays well he'll be in the Premiership sooner rather than later.
Quite ludicrously, Morrison is only contracted until next Summer despite being our best asset since Simon Cox's departure.
Morrison could form a fine partnership with Gordon Greer but we want to be able to enjoy this without thinking that Morrison could leave in January for a tiny fee.
Danny Wilson's decision to hand Gordon Greer the captain's armband was a no-brainer as he admirably helped save Swindon from the drop with some assured displays. Like Lucas, the Scotsman could have moved to Scotland or remained in the North but chose Swindon and we should be grateful!
The arrival of Scott Cuthbert could be massive. The buzz in Scotland regarding his ability is exciting and he's considered a future full international.
Hopefully we shall see more of the Kevin Amankwaah that ended the season as opposed to the one that started it. There's also a lot pressure on the likes of him and Jean-Francois Lescinel to do the business without being superstars. Consistancy, consistany, consistancy is what is required from these players.
This area is without doubt a long-term problem for Swindon. In the centre we've lacked both muscle and goals. For the former we might have sorted it in the form of Jonathan Douglas who won't be afraid to get stuck in. Douglas' arrival should benefit Michael Timlin's game too.
However, we still lack that Kevin Horlock-type player who can score 10/12 goals. We must find one of these players.
It's last chance saloon for Craig Easton. A lot of fans were surprised that he survived Wilson's wielding axe but I wasn't. Easton is a fine footballer who, for me, simple endured a poor season. It happens. I believe he was better than Miguel Comminges in his debut season but it didn't happen last term due to injuries and what not. Like I said, it happens. Easton won't start the season in the first XI but he will offer healthy competition.
Players like J-P McGovern have to live up to what is expected of them - whether or not we can get this out of McGovern remains to be seen, he's got the skill but has he got a good enough footballing brain to take us forward? The same goes for Anthony McNamee, who has undoubtful ability but he can frustrate just as much and delight.
From Hibs comes former-Irish international Alan O'Brien. His relationship with the Hibs fans was poor because they felt that he never replaced terrace favourite Ivan Sproule. O'Brien is quick but can he produce?
Simon Cox has left and taken away 31 goals from this side. This is a major issue and one that so far Danny Wilson has failed to address. The majority are getting somewhat restless whether that's fair or not.
Billy Paynter is a decent League One footballer but he doesn't strike me as prolific.
Our only other striker right now is Lee Peacock and I'm unsure whether he'll play again let alone score again!
What frustrates me is that we're going into games against sides the Town faithful like to beat - Gillingham and MK Dons. I don't think our fans want to walk out of Priestfield and Stadium:MK embarressed!
Again whether or not these fears can be justified remains to be seen.
Finally on the player front we also have big seasons for the likes of Callum Kennedy (who could feature a fair bit this season), Nathan Thompson and Lloyd Macklin. The latter might even get a game tomorrow due to our lack of strike power.
In conclusion, League One is a tough one to call because after Norwich, Leeds, Charlton and Huddersfield anyone could end up competing or struggling.
Teams like Leyton Orient and Exeter City have just as good a chance competing than they do going down. Southend are among the favourites to go up and it wouldn't suprise many but the same applies if they ended up in the bottom half.
I honestly wouldn't like to guess where we'll end up. The defence has improved so one expects a better standard in that department. I also hope a new striker comes in ASAP and we prosper... or that our midfield chip-in and score more goals.
What do you think?
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