TOWN FLIER is the weekly fan's blog about all matters relating to Swindon Town FC
EVEN ON his first day out of work, Paolo Di Canio had one last depth charge to release at Swindon Town – stripping the captaincy from Alan McCormack ahead of the crucial game at Tranmere on Tuesday night.
If it had a destabilising effect on the Swindon squad they did not show it, for they ran out deserved 3-1 winners.
Has Gary Roberts truly found his mojo since the exit of Matt Ritchie, under whose shadow he has been all season? It is beginning to look that way.
If his first goal on Tuesday was brilliant, his second effort from inside his own half was plain extraordinary.
Prior to that stoppage-time strike we had to endure minutes of unbelievable tension as Tranmere, back in the game at 2-1, put us under the cosh. Big thanks again to Wes Foderingham for another world class save late on.
So the night ended with no manager, no backroom staff – after the resignation of Fabrizio Piccareta and the predominantly Italian technical team, and no owners – the Football League still refusing to ratify the takeover of Jed McCoroy and his consortium.
However, McCormack reclaimed the captain’s armband after the substitution of Simon Ferry – and we are top of the league. It could only happen at Swindon.
It all reminded me of that classic Morecambe & Wise sketch in which conductor Andre Previn stepped down with his baton, smugly expecting his orchestra to fall apart – they did not.
I don’t expect this Swindon side to fall apart in the final 14 games, either. They have shown enough character in recent weeks to prove that the title is theirs to lose.
I fear they will ultimately have to bow to Bournemouth. The Cherries are breathing down our necks, have a much easier run-in than ours, and, of course, they have our former prize asset, Matt Ritchie.
If the last three weeks has been unbelievably frustrating – with its virtual news blackout – the next few are going to be tremendously exciting.
We should finally get to hear the vision of McCrory and his troops. There will also be a new manager and back-room team and, hopefully, one or two judicious emergency loan signings to give us all a lift after the loss of Ritchie and Hollands.
And, of course, we will watch with interest the next chapter in the story of the rookie manager who brought us to the cusp of Championship football.
His tenure at Swindon was never going to be a long-player. We hoped for an exhilarating ride and we certainly got that.
We watched Paolo learn his trade in the job, shredding a lot of his big budget by making some unbelievably bad early signings, establishing a rigorous and not entirely popular seven-day-a-week training regime, ruling with perhaps too iron a fist, and towards the end seeking a little too much credit for himself.
On the plus side, he took the ashes of a relegated and broken team, turned them into a championship-winning side and put them in the position to win another. He confirmed his resignation when we were in sixth place, but the last team he selected took us to the top.
Wonderful timing, that.
And following a series of bland, faceless bosses, never let it be said that he did not entertain us royally all the way.
There were a significant minority who wanted nothing to do with him at the outset. To his credit, he has probably won over 98% of them.
We will never find another manager to match his passion – and that’s why the fans love him.
However, from the day his great supporter, Jeremy Wray, was sacked as chairman, a little bit of Paolo left the County Ground.
We may never learn in full about the demons that forced him to throw his toys out of the pram at the end – and quitting in his first managerial job does not look good on his CV What I do know is that statistically and anecdotally, it took only 21 months for Paolo Di Canio to become a Swindon Town legend.