ANOTHER turbulent week at the County Ground when we were dumped out of our final knockout competition – the FA Cup – and released from the transfer embargo which manager Di Canio feels may already have scuppered any chance of promotion.
We also had, through a fans’ phone-in on BBC Wiltshire, the chance to get a handle on new chairman Sir William Patey.
I thought the former diplomat came over very well. He was honest, straightforward and surprisingly frank. At one point, he said he has already had moments at Swindon ‘when I thought Afghanistan was easier’.
We learned that the playing budget for the year is £4m – one of the highest in the division – and that the Board’s £500,000 top-up earmarked for the January transfer window has been released a couple of months early, hence the lifting of the embargo.
While Paolo does not have access to the whole half-million – the club having overspent to receive a rap on the knuckles from the FA – he does have the cash to bring in a couple of loan players, maybe by Saturday’s Walsall game. And with Tommy Miller joining Alan Navarro on the sidelines for weeks rather days, an influential midfielder may be top of his list. Sir William also condemned two areas of the manager’s behaviour which have split the fans.
They love his post-match gesturing about Town being on the up and rivals being on the way down, but they generally disagree with his criticism of individual players in the media.
Patey takes a dim view of both and said the Board this week discussed the possibility of introducing a Code of Conduct at the club.
Matters on the field took a turn for the worse when Town were tripped up at their first FA Cup hurdle by a non league side in Macclesfield.
The players who had given Premiership Aston Villa such a good game the previous week clearly thought they could stroll to victory. Only when they had gone behind – to a world class 35-yard screamer from Tony Diagne – and when Aden Flint was red carded, did a half-hearted performance become a committed one. Too little, too late.
They battered Macclesfield for 20 minutes but found a goalie (Lance Cronin) and a defence that would not be breached.
I have always been quick to champion Flint’s place in the side but am beginning to lose patience. His lunging tackle in the opposition half which resulted in a red card, was completely unnecessary, and followed the recent sending off against Scunthorpe.
Perhaps the competition for places in our most oversubscribed position (centre half) is making him try a little too hard.
There was a much improved attitude from the team in Tuesday night’s 0-0 home draw with league leaders Sheffield Utd.
I’d hate to be a Bramall Lane season ticket holder. The kings of the 1-0 victory are an efficient beast of a side with apparently no flair whatsoever going forward.
Paolo seems resigned to the fact that we can’t now catch them and win the league this season, but we are still only six points off the Blades, and have yet to truly hit our stride.
Also, our strapped circumstances have allowed another talented teenager (Louis Thompson) to burst into the first team picture along with Miles Storey. They have both proved their worth to the side and are like two new signings.