TOWN FLIER is the weekly fan's blog about all matters relating to Swindon Town FC
PAOLO DI CANIO’S Swindon Town Mk II for the 2012/13 campaign is very much like the successful Mk I.
If a template works, why change it.
The foundation is a miserly back five which still looks hard to break down and score against.
Whether new signing Troy Archibald-Henville is any better than the previous ‘second centre back’ incumbents (Aden Flint and Joe Devera) remains to be seen. But he has the shirt for now and, after a very solid display in the Capital One Cup win over Brighton on Tuesday night, he is not going to give it up easily.
Alan Navarro and Tommy Miller have brought some extra quality and nous to the central midfield roles, while Andy Williams (strike partner to Paul Benson) is a step up on what we had last year.
Swindon’s attacking potency, however, is still reliant on its wingers – Matt Ritchie and newboy Graham Roberts, who was absent through injury on Tuesday.
That first competitive game of the season also followed a similar pattern to last term in that we claimed a higher division scalp with the 3-0 win.
But amid the understandable post-match euphoria, let’s cut to the big news of the last week – the humiliating demotion of Paul Caddis from captaincy and, at the moment it seems, the squad.
Several Swindon Town players questioned the training methods and man management of Di Canio last term. The common denominator with Leon Clarke, Jonathan Tehoue and Mehdi Kerrouche being that they are no longer at the club.
There has allegedly been some form of dissent from Caddis in recent weeks over the tough training regime. Whether he has been speaking only for himself or, as captain, for the remainder of the squad it would be fascinating to know.
But there will only be one winner in such a situation – and that is not the player – especially as the manager can point to the mantelpiece bearing the League Two trophy and produce results like the Brighton upset.
It would be a great shame if the spat cannot be resolved. Caddis is not only one of our key players and the springboard for so many of our attacks, but his support play helps make Matt Ritchie tick.
Caddis was in the stands at Wembley when Chesterfield stopped our wingers playing and, in effect, stopped Swindon playing; in the first half against Brighton, full backs Bridge and Bruno completely shackled Ritchie and De Vita.
In the pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace – with Caddis in the side – when the London side went ahead they all too easily contained us. And therein lies the problem.
I can’t see anyone turning us over – the defence looks far too able – but my worry is a lack of creativity through the middle of the park and goals. If the wingers don’t function, we don’t seem to have a plan B.
Our principal threat in the disappointing warm-up game at Supermarine was from set-pieces and again it was a cleverly executed free kick which opened the floodgates in the Brighton game and set us on our way to victory.
It is great to have that weapon in the armoury, but we must develop more potency in open play if we are to have a good go at promotion.
The League 1 campaign begins with the long trip to Hartlepool on Saturday.
Let’s hope the Caddis cloud can blow away quickly because replacing him will dent Di Canio’s remaining budget when there are more pressing areas that needed addressing.