SOMETIMES you have to be careful what you wish for. For the majority of the season, Swindon’s brand of champagne football allied to a magnificent, frugal defence has made them strong candidates for promotion.

On Monday, after an abject performance at Doncaster, the thought crossed my mind that we might not even make the play-offs.

No club is going to turn down the opportunity of promotion and we may never have a better chance of getting to the Championship. But is it such a heinous thought that promotion might be coming a year too soon?

Back-to-back promotions are not unique but they are rare enough at this level and given the recent turmoil at the club – days from administration, new owners, new manager, some of our best players sold or injured – it would seem improbable to go up again.

Eleven points separate the top nine teams in League One. That smacks of a division which is ordinary rather than outstanding.

The gulf between the Championship and League One is getting greater and I would not mind wagering that two of the promoted teams will come straight back down next season.

I’m also yet to be convinced that our new board have the financial clout to sustain a meaningful challenge in the Championship.

Nine points out of a possible 21 since Kevin Macdonald took over is not promotion form and after an unhappy Easter the unthinkable – missing out on the play-offs – has become a possibility.

We have two tough games on the immediate horizon – away to MK Dons and Sheffield Utd – and I just don’t see where the goals are going to come from.

Yes, in the scrappy 1-1 draw with Oldham on Friday, Adam Rooney scored a glorious candidate for goal of the season. It came at a perfect time, when we had just gone behind and, frankly, were on the ropes.

Then in a siege-like final 20 minutes Rooney and James Collins missed a couple of easier chances apiece, as had Andy Williams earlier. It’s an old, old story. Fast forward three days to the Keepmoat Stadium and the least said about that 1-0 defeat to the limited leaders Doncaster the better. Only Wes Foderingham, Aden Flint and new signing Massimo Luongo can hold their heads up.

What I can’t fathom is why so many of our key senior players have gone off the boil since the arrival of the three fresh young faces from Spurs.

Alan Navarro followed a splendid performance in front of the back four against Notts County with two invisible displays. Simon Ferry, admittedly out of position on the right side of midfield, wielded no influence whatsoever.

Biggest shock of all, though, was Alan McCormack’s contribution. After countless brilliant games, I suppose he was due a couple of bad ones. Worryingly, our makeshift left back has been our most potent attacking force of late, with his whipped crosses and his marauding charges.

But his relish for getting forward was negated by having to deal with two tricky right wingers in John Croft and Kyle Bennett and, uncharacteristically, his game was strewn with errors.

Positives amid this doom and gloom? Well, even on the evidence of just two games, central midfielder Luongo is a find. A cultured ball player, there is also some steel about him and the block tackles he made at the Keepmoat show he has bought into the cause.

It’s premature to criticise the tactics and management style of our new boss – his current problem is that too many of his offensive players are not earning their handsome wages.

He would not like to be judged on his first seven games, I am sure. The same could be said of Paolo Di Canio who I believe won two and lost five of his first seven in charge at Swindon.

Paolo now has seven games to turn Sunderland’s fortunes around in the Premiership and we are all fascinated to see whether he can replicate his great success at Swindon at the highest level.

Of course, with Paolo comes a degree of collateral damage, but it is appalling that the Press and Kick It Out appear to want to hound him out of the job before he has even started.