By Peter Mitchell 

I KNOW that there is very little loyalty in football these days and that we shouldn’t be surprised at anything that happens. The sudden departure of Swindon manager David Flitcroft last week reinforced that premise very strongly.

Obviously there will be more to all this than meets the eye, but I understood Flitcroft to have 15 months left on a two-year deal. Judging by the terse statement made by Swindon Town about the timing of his departure, I wouldn’t think he went with the club’s blessing. However, I believe compensation was involved, so probably chairman Lee Power felt there was no virtue in keeping someone against their will, and the club might as well get something in return.

Whatever the contractual circumstances this was a real kick in the teeth imparted by the manager to both his players and the club supporters.

As Town manager, Flitcroft was never slow in using such words as “commitment, responsibility and support” in his press interviews and I wonder, in the context of his departure, if he has misunderstood their meaning.

With Swindon sitting in seventh place in the table this was a real sucker punch and I can only imagine the blue hue of the atmosphere wherever chairman Lee Power was when he first heard the news. How on earth can David Flitcroft say that he “couldn’t turn such an opportunity down”? – Mansfield are hardly a club with a bigger history than Swindon, or with as much potential.

Whether he would have got the Town promotion is of course a question that will never be answered. Maybe he figured he was going to come up just short, so he might as well cut and run?

If Mr Flitcroft felt he was “warmly” welcomed at his new club, it probably won’t compare with the hot reception he will undoubtedly receive the next time he visits the County Ground – especially if Swindon/Mansfield should meet in the play-offs this year!

They say every cloud has a silver lining and maybe the Town could be the winner in all this. Veteran player Matt Taylor has been appointed Interim Manager and anyone who heard his in-depth interview with BBC Wiltshire Radio cannot but have been impressed by his frankness, humility and positiveness. He also seems very articulate which makes a pleasant change! He seems to have the confidence of the dressing room which is obviously a vital factor. I understand that the ex-manager was not the most respected leader, as evidenced by various quotes made on social media by some current and former Swindon players, who have played under him this season.

Matt Taylor has experience in spades behind him – he’s been there, done it nearly all, and got the tee shirts. He seems fully up for the task and views this, not as a set-back, but as a great opportunity for Swindon Town to come good.

The club has a hugely impressive record of giving very successful players their first taste of football league management experience. Latterly we saw Paulo Di Canio, who boasted a win record of 67% with Swindon, and before him there was the brief tenure of Dennis Wise (66%). However, the long list is very impressive with Steve McMahon (49%), Glenn Hoddle (56%), Ossie Ardiles (53%), Lou Macari (60%), John Trollope (44%) and Dave Mackay (46%) preceding them.

The unplanned week off was probably a blessing in disguise for the new manager, giving him more time to prepare for his first match in his new role – home to local rivals Cheltenham Town next Saturday. We have a very poor record against the other Robins, so a win would be a welcome and extremely encouraging start – let’s all get behind him and give him the support he deserves.