Managers Countdown: Danny Wilson

No.12 | Danny Wilson | Manager December 2008 to March 2011 | Score 278.2

Now back in business with Sheffield United, in early March Danny Wilson was a broken man. After coming so near to promotion less than a season ago, his Swindon side were staring relegation in the face and Wilson decided to resign, helped by the fact that it was made clear he no longer could count upon the support of then Chairman Andrew Fitton.

To follow Maurice Malpas, Fitton made the right choice in appointing Wilson. An honest, well respected and popular manager who’d just been given the surprising push by Hartlepool. Eyebrows were inevitably raised due to his past at Bristol City, but this wasn’t a new situation for Town fans to overcome.

The second half of 2008/2009 wasn’t easy for Town. The league form improved enough with the loan signings of Greer, Robson-Kanu and Tudor-Jones, including 3 wins in a row in March, meaning Town finished a deceptively high 15th, only 4 points clear of the drop. Relegation avoided, job done.

Later, the 2010/2011 season has only been such a disaster and disappointment because of the success Wilson was able to deliver a year before.

The opening 5-0 reverse at Gillingham deceptively laid down the foundations for the season ahead. Only 8 League One defeats suffered and 82 point total represented our best season since winning the Division Two Championship back in 1995/1996.

It wasn’t just the number of wins or the league position, it was the memories of the games, the way we played, the way we won, plus the way we well and truly beat the opposition. It was great to support Town through eleven games when we scored 3 or 4 goals per game, double 1-0 victories over Southampton and the never to be forgotten double 3-0 thrashing of Leeds United.

It couldn’t last forever and it all went wrong after we hit 2nd place with the victory at Elland Rd. The inexperience started to show, the opposition were stubborn and we stumbled towards the finish line and disappointed at Wembley.

After that high of 2nd place back in Easter 2010, Wilson’s record read: Played 40, Won 9, Drawn 13 and Lost 18, taking an average of just a point per game. 2010/11 was beset by an unsettled team that was disjointed with no direction, players out of position, numerous individual and managerial mistakes, all resulting in our relegation under Paul Hart however the damage had already been done.

Wilson was very fortunate to work with a high calibre of quality players including Cox, Paynter, Greer, Ward and Austin, who when sold, just couldn’t be replaced. In the case of Greer, Wilson completely underestimated his massive importance to the team and wasn’t strong enough to stamp his authority to the board to ensure Greer got a new deal. Of course every team would struggle after losing these figureheads, however the efforts Wilson made to replace them were hasty and ill-advised, i.e. Prutton.

His Swindon sides always seemed to lack the fight, only able to come from behind to secure a victory away from home just 3 times under his tenure. Mentally, Wilson seemed unable to motivate his players when they’re down, highlighting that he’s got plenty of ideas when it’s all going well, however when it’s not, there’s only one way and that’s down.

Despite the problems we faced last season, given what had been achieved a year ago many fans still trusted him, myself included, blinkered, like Wilson, to our declining fortunes.

What really did it for me with Wilson was his persistence in late January (with Town just above the relegation zone) that we still had a shot at the Play-Offs. He still believed in his own hype and that rubbed off on the players. In the end we all could see past this and just wanted realism so something could be done about it.

It’s sad to say that it ended this way, but if Wilson stayed around any longer he’d further tarnish his achievements, damage his reputation and leave even more bitter memories with Town fans, which he just doesn’t deserve.

Good, Bad or Ugly - Good – His 120 games over 26 months lacked any consistency throughout. A fluid and attacking team performed miracles a year ago and then it all turned sour. But we must remember he kept Swindon in League One following Maurice Malpas’ awful reign, then exceeded all expectations to get an unfancied Town in contention for automatic promotion and a Wembley Play-Off final.

  • Leagues: 3 seasons in League One
  • FA Cup: 5 ties | Best 3rd Round in 2009/10
  • League Cup: 3 ties | Best 2nd Round in 2009/10
  • Achievements: It was meant to be a day out to remember at Wembley for the right reasons…
League Pld Won Drn Lst For Agg League Pts P/G League Score FAC Score FLC Score
106 37 35 34 152 150 146 1.4 183.2 62.00 33.00
TOTAL SCORE: 278.2

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Click here for a full list of the managers in the countdown so far and their scores, including an explanation of how the scoring works.

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