Saturday, August 06, 2011

Are We Good Enough?

The dismal season which saw Swindon relegated to League Two sparked an exodus at the County Ground. Much has changed at Swindon in recent months and as a result of this, expectations are high and confidence amongst supporters is high.

The majority of Town supporters see play-offs as an absolute minimal requirement. The new look squad have a task to right a very big wrong by those who have jumped ship. So are we strong enough to make a serious promotion charge?

The appointment of Paolo Di Canio in May, shortly after our relegation is the most important change of all. Di Canio is a massive name within the English game, having plied his trade at Sheffield Wednesday and later West Ham and Charlton Athletic. The Italian's appointment has been a popular one which has seen season ticket sales soar.

The flip side of the coin to Di Canio's arrival is that it's his first taste of management. In spite of the optimism, no-one is sure that Di Canio will excel at management as much as he did as a player. As of now, I am impressed; his passion has been instilled into his squad which can only been seen as a positive step.

Since his arrival, Paolo Di Canio has looked to put his rubber stamp on the squad; allowing players to move on, and also bringing in new faces. Joe Devera and Alberto Comazzi have been brought in to shore up our shaky defence. Devera clocked up over 200 league appearances during his time with Barnet, whilst 32 year old Comazzi should give the defence some much needed experience and know-how.

With five central midfielders at the club, competition for a starting place is likely to be fierce. Nambia international Oliver Risser has been given the armband, whilst Alan McCormack and Jonathan Smith also signed. McCormack rejected League One clubs to sign from Charlton Athletic; presumably the lure of Di Canio turned his head so is unlikely to settle for a place on the bench. Jonathan Smith joined from Blue Square Premier side York City and started every pre-season game.

The trio joined Simon Ferry and Michael Timlin at the County Ground who will also be bidding for a starting place. Former Celtic man Ferry had a disappointing previous campaign and has it all to prove to Paolo Di Canio. That said, Simon Ferry has something different to the others; whilst the other quartet are tough-tackling whilst Ferry is a creative outlet. Michael Timlin had the opportunity to join Southend, but instead opted to stay at Swindon so won't be happy with a cameo role.

Our major downfall last season was a lack of goals; it speaks volumes when Sean Morrison, a central defender who left in January was our third top goalscorer. In a bid to fix this problem, three strikers arrived at the club with Raffaele De Vita the first to join from Scottish side Livingston. De Vita will face competition from Alan Connell, who joined from Grimsby after scoring 26 last season and Algerian Mehdi Kerrouche.

Whilst overs jumped ship at just about the first opportunity, Paul Caddis and Matt Ritchie have remained at the club. Our two best players last season, who impressed with the commitment and ability. There would have been interest from higher up the food chain, so for them to still be here is a great boost. Paul Caddis is likely to be pushed back into defence although will grow into the role comfortably.

Elsewhere, clubs have strenghten and there are some good teams in the league. Blue Square Premier winners Crawley Town have money and momentum which makes the Sussex side worthy favourites. Bristol Rovers have had a similar summer to Swindon following relegation from League One. Paul Buckle has taken over the reins, leaving Torquay in the process and has signed several players following so many exits. Shrewsbury will be looking to go one better whilst Rotherham, Oxford and Southend have improved their squads.

This season will be no walk in the park, with so many good teams in the league. One thing is for sure, with Paolo Di Canio at the helm, we are in for an eventful season. Who knows what this season will bring but of course we all hope Swindon fulfil the expectations resting on their shoulders.

No comments:

Post a Comment