TOWN FLIER is the fan's blog about all matters at Swindon Town's County Ground
THERE have been some crazy years in the history of Swindon Town FC and 2013 must go down as perhaps the craziest of them all.
We started the year certs for promotion, yet limped out of contention in the play-offs.
Paolo di Canio appeared to be steering us to a second successive title but mega-bucks owner Andrew Black decided to withdraw his financial support, prime asset Matt Ritchie was sold from under the manager’s nose and the Italian decided to jump ship.
After much turmoil off the field, which saw new owners, a new manager and an unrecognisable squad that had been shorn of most of the big-earners (and understandably many of the best players like Alan McCormack, Simon Ferry and Aden Flint), we began the new season certs for relegation.
Yet Christmas came and went with Town just outside the play-offs and still clinging to the faint possibility of another promotion challenge.
The power behind the throne, Lee Power, proved the last man standing when he finally emerged from his Swiss tax exile shadows to take over the club. We said goodbye to former chairman Jed McCrory, whose motley crew had bailed out before him.
Reading the comments from fans that Jed has retweeted you might get the impression that he was Swindon Town’s saviour. All I can say is that you can fool some of the people all of the time.
At least we can see the colour of Power's money.
And it his classy footballing blueprint, jointly-engineered with his best man and now Tottenham Hotspur boss Tim Sherwood, that has seen much of the Spurs youth team decamp to the County Ground.
Yes, they can play – the pinnacle remains the day they ‘destroyed’ Wolves yet lost 3-2 at Molineux – but their shortcomings have been one of the more predictable facets of this topsy-turvy 2013.
The high earners of the di Canio era have nearly all left and the annual budget has been reduced by more than 50 per cent to £2.3m. Power insists it must come down still further to £1.5m in the future if the club wants to be sustainable.
The now-open January transfer window is going to be key in Power’s attempt to bridge the gap that is forming behind the top six.
We are all expecting Dany N’Guessan, Nicky Ajose and Mohammed Elgabas to have moved on later this month. Perhaps the talented but troubled Nile Ranger, too.
Unfortunately, we also look set to say goodbye to prodigiously talented, if pint-sized Alex Pritchard along with keeper Wes Foderingham. They both deserve Championship football and should go with our blessing.
Power has teased us with talk of links to a further top Premiership club as well as Spurs. Lets’s see what he can pull out of the hat.
He may actually have some hidden gems within. The year ended with Brazilian centre back Raphael Branco making a rare appearance off the bench in front of 13,000 Bradford fans on Saturday.
His sterling performance prompted the boss to insist his team-mates give him a dressing room round of applause after the game. That’s good man management, Mr Cooper (pictured).
Who knows, the central defensive unit of Hall and Ward which, until Saturday, had played every minute of every game could be usurped in 2014 by Branco and the dodgy-kneed Troy Archibald-Henville, who has apparently been impressive in recent training.
Meanwhile, Portuguese winger Tijane Reis who looked very exciting player in the early games of the season, is close to a recall after his knee surgery.