Podcast Episode 9: Doncaster Rovers Reaction & Vincent Pericard Interview

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Listen to the latest episode of TheWashbag.com Swindon Town FC Podcast, which includes our Swindon vs Doncaster Rovers match report.

Host Christopher Panks is joined by Ron Smith – Editor of TheWashbag.com – and Daniel Hunt – regular match reporter for TheWashbag.com. Up for discussion is a frustrating afternoon watching Town draw 1-1 with Doncaster Rovers and a look forward to a busy few weeks ahead over the festive period; with games against Oldham, Tranmere, Leyton Orient and Portsmouth.

The podcast includes a special feature by Chris who reports on depression and mental health in professional sport. Chris talks with former Swindon Town striker Vincent Pericard, who updates us on the progress he’s made in the past year with his company Elite Welfare Management.

Leave a comment below or catch us on Twitter.

You can contact us by emailing podcast[at]thewashbag[dot]com.

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The Washbag Meets: Vincent Pericard

Happier Times: Pericard finally grabs a goal for Swindon 5

Nick Judd talks exclusively to former Swindon Town striker Vincent Pericard about the stresses of life as a professional footballer away from home, his time at the County Ground and how he’s rebuilding his career at Havant & Waterlooville.

Could more be done to help foreign players settle in England, and beyond? One former STFC player believes so…

With so many foreign players coming and going at Swindon this season, the County Ground has resembled something of an airport.

And while the transition to English football has been relatively easy for imports such as top scorer Medhi Kerrouche and, more recently, winger Lander Gabilondo, others have found it more difficult.

Mattia Lanzano, Alberto Comazzi, Allesandro Cibocchi, Lukas Magera and Oliver Risser have all showed signs of promise but have struggled with form or injury problems at some stage following their moves to Wiltshire.

One former Town player who can sympathise with the plight of Town’s foreign legion is striker Vincent Pericard.

Now a long, long time ago...

The Frenchman is trying to rebuild his own career at Havant & Waterlooville following his own disappointing spell at Swindon. His move to the County Ground didn’t work out well and instead it proved the latest in a string of problems that have followed his switch to England from Juventus including numerous injuries, a 10-week stretch in prison and depression. Pericard believes it’s hard for foreign players to adapt to a new country.

“I see young foreign players struggling with loneliness or failing to settle in an alien country, not just England,” he explains. “Some players simply don’t know what’s going on. You know yourself when you’re on holiday you don’t know where anything is, you don’t know the language and you don’t have any resources – you’re open to a series of risks. Imagine living your life like that. And then imagine not being able to do your job because you’re injured and not having any family around to support you.

“There are a lot of potential pitfalls that prevent a player from performing to his maximum. Agents and clubs sometimes don’t do enough to help their new arrivals. It’s not possible for agents to give all of their clients 100 per cent all of their time, but it’s not just the players and agents who lose out, the club and the fans want their players to do well, too.”

I believe I ended up in prison because I made a mistake and because I was badly advised afterwards

“I believe I ended up in prison because I made a mistake and because I was badly advised afterwards,” he continues of his own experiences. “I can’t even begin to explain the consequences of that on and off the pitch. I lost my place in the starting line-up at Stoke and off the field I struggled with a succession of injuries, then depression. Every little piece of good or bad advice can have huge consequences for a footballer.”

Pericard’s journey saw him signed by Danny Wilson in 2010. Unfortunately his injury problems continued and he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to succeed.

“I didn’t feel pressure going to Swindon but circumstances let me down,” he reveals. “I was so desperate to impress I played earlier than I should have done and injury set me back a couple of weeks. I could see and hear fans getting frustrated early on while at the same time Charlie [Austin] and Billy [Paynter] just couldn’t stop scoring. I had no chance!”

Happier Times: Pericard finally grabs a goal for Swindon - from swindontownfc.co.uk

“The manager was never going to change a winning team so I had to bide my time on the bench. There’s nothing wrong with that. The team went to Wembley, which was superb for the club, but for me I never got going and I found that really hard.”

I wanted to work hard, I wanted to sweat and give anything to succeed in that team and achieve success

“It was frustrating,” he continues. “You want to be part of it. You want nothing more than for the fans to say, ‘yep, he was part of the reason we were successful’. You don’t want to be seen getting an easy ride and picking up money without doing anything. For me that’s not what it’s about. I wanted to work hard, I wanted to sweat and give anything to succeed in that team and achieve success.”

“Yet one of the biggest things I struggled with was the fans. They didn’t always know what was going on in my life and in my mind and body. At times I was not right mentally. I would ask the manager if I could sit out because I didn’t feel right in my head.”

Pericard is rueful about his time in Swindon but says he has no regrets. He’s moved on, but now he’s hoping to prevent others from experiencing the lows he endured on and off the field by launching Elite Professional Management, an agency aiming to advise young foreign players and prevent them making mistakes and suffering from things like stress, loneliness and depression.

“Out of 10 players who move abroad, only one of them will go on to succeed straight away,” says Pericard. “Yet football fans don’t see the potential problems of life as a footballer. When players arrive they’re expected to turn up, play and perform miracles. But without support, it’s not always easy. When a player is settled the club sees the best results whether that’s in the Premier League or League Two, but instead of dealing with what might be affecting players, managers sometimes give up on them. They’d rather buy another player. I just want to help players perform to the best of their ability,” says Pericard.

In Swindon’s current squad, Lanzano appears to be out of the picture following the arrival of loan star Wes Foderingham while Alan McCormack’s form in defence means Cibbocchi and Comazzi can’t get a game.

Hopefully we’ll still get to see the best of these players and they’ll have a role to play this season. If not, there’s always one player who knows what they’re going through, and who’s keen to lend an ear.

Follow Nick Judd

Follow Vincent Pericard

Follow EPM – Elite Professional Management where Vincent will be available to answer any questions you may have regarding this article

A Season in Stats: Part 5 – Attacking threat

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First of all it’s been clear Swindon haven’t been any real attacking threat this season, hence our relegation, but I shouldn’t leave this aspect out of the season review in statistics.

The below table provides seven league statistics for each player who have made a shot at goal this season; total shots, minutes per shot, total shots on target (SOT), minutes per shot on target, total goals, minutes per goal and percentage of shots become goals. The table is sorted by the number of minutes per shot. Hitting the posts or crossbar is not counted as a shot on target.

I don’t think I really needed to do this analysis to come to the conclusion Charlie Austin was by far the greatest attacking threat with a strike every 29 minutes and every 54 minutes on target. After Austin left our goals per game ratio fell from 1.42 goals per game after Tranmere and never recovered, finishing with just 1.09 goals per game. If Charlie had stayed I’ve no doubt that his goals and all round attacking threat would’ve given us a fighting chance of staying up…what a dick for leaving us!

As for the rest:

Dossevi got enough shots at goal, mainly from long range, however he just wasn’t acurate enough with too many wayward shots.

Bodin showed why he deserved his 5 appearances, getting in good enough positions to shoot 6 times, however he only tested the keeper once. Certainly Bodin-well for next season…

Elliot Benyon really didn’t handle the step up to League One and only managed a shot every 83 minutes from just 10 shots in 12 appearances.

The much maligned Pericard was comparible to the threat of Obika, Andrew and Grella, who were the loan signings brought in to replace him. Pericard was only marginally less efficent against these three with the frequency of shots and better in terms of acuracy of shots on target and strike rate. However I still don’t feel he offers anything to us, even in League Two.

Matt Ritchie deserved the Player of the Season Award. As he played both on the wing and upfront it’s difficult to understand his attacking contribution from each position, however his consistent attacking threat with more than 50% of his shots on target was fantastic.

Ferry was maginalised in midfield, making only 5 shots and 1 assist all season, compared to 18 goals and 3 assists in 2009/2010. For that you can blame Prutton, thank god he’s gone…

Morrison’s defensive inexperience was plain to see in my earlier post, however his attacking threat was significant with an overall strike rate of 36.4%, the best rate in the club.

As for O’Brien, he could hardly create any real chances for himself and not enough (only 1 assist) for his teamates.

Apps Mins Shots Mins / Shot SOT Mins / SOT Goals Mins / Goal % S=G
Austin 21 1842 63 29 34 54 12 154 19.0%
Dossevi 27 1365 37 37 19 72 3 455 8.1%
Bodin 5 232 6 39 1 232 0 n/a 0.0%
Ritchie 36 3056 61 50 35 87 7 437 11.5%
Ball 18 707 12 59 7 101 2 354 16.7%
Obika 5 304 5 61 2 152 0 n/a 0.0%
Andrew 10 810 13 62 5 162 1 810 7.7%
Grella 7 506 7 72 3 169 1 506 14.3%
Pericard 18 1022 14 73 8 128 2 511 14.3%
Douglas 39 3360 44 76 15 224 1 3360 2.3%
McGovern 38 2641 34 78 15 176 3 880 8.8%
Prutton 41 2976 36 83 15 198 3 992 8.3%
Benyon 12 581 7 83 3 194 1 581 14.3%
Rose 35 2547 29 88 16 159 3 849 10.3%
Sheehan 21 1479 16 92 9 164 1 1479 6.3%
Timlin 22 1460 14 104 5 292 2 730 14.3%
Morrison 19 1710 11 155 6 285 4 428 36.4%
Flint 3 185 1 185 0 n/a 0 n/a 0.0%
N’Diaye 6 186 1 186 1 186 0 n/a 0.0%
Amankwaah 19 1506 8 188 1 1506 0 n/a 0.0%
Thompson 3 201 1 201 1 201 0 n/a 0.0%
Caddis 38 3226 13 248 9 358 1 3226 7.7%
Jean-Francois 18 1387 5 277 3 462 1 1387 20.0%
Ferry 21 1529 5 306 2 765 0 n/a 0.0%
Cuthbert 41 3493 10 349 5 699 2 1747 20.0%
O’Brien 21 847 2 424 1 847 0 n/a 0.0%
Frampton 23 1981 2 991 0 n/a 0 n/a 0.0%

10 reasons why Swindon failed in 2010/2011

Phew…this season has finally finished and on a high note with the 2-0 victory at Tranmere Rovers.

Before we start to look forward to hopefully a single season in League Two (before a promotion, not in the other direction…) I just want to run the final rule over 2010/2011, with the 10 reasons why I believe we failed, been relegated and finished bottom of the league.

1. Sold best players and not replaced them – Is probably the most frequently heard and ultimately the real reason why we failed. You just can’t disagree with the ramifications of failing to replace Greer, Paynter, Ward, Austin and Morrison.

That’s not to say these could be replaced, as of course quality footballers don’t come cheap and everyone is after them. Having said that, I don’t believe the effort was really made to replace them.

New permanent signings arrived in other positions and their actual ‘replacements’ Frampton, Pericard, Ball etc were miserable failures.

Avenging the play-off defeat couldn't be forgotten

2. Believing our own hype – The monkey on the back that was the Play-offs couldn’t be forgotten. Avenging the defeat last May was paramount and blinded everyone throughout the season. Even in the new year with the dismal run in full swing, Wilson continued to believe a play-off finish was still possible.

His deluded view persisted until the 3-0 defeat at Leyton Orient in early February, by which time we’d slumped to 21st and 13 points off 6th place. This mindset obviously rubbed off on the players, still believing their own hype and failing to realise the  situation were were falling into.

3. Goals, or lack of them… – We got less points than anyone else because we couldn’t score goals. 50 goals all season masks the fact that since 12 (league) goal Charlie Austin walked out in January we only scored a further 4 goals at home and 9 away. So that’s 20 games in which the whole team scored only 1 more than Austin managed in his 21 appearance in the first half of the season… now that’s relegation form.


4. Fitton didn’t sack Danny Wilson in November – Back in November 2008 Andrew Fitton did the right thing and sacked Maurice Malpas, yet two years later Fitton went against his earlier instincts and stuck with Danny Wilson. This was despite Wilson having an almost identical record to Malpas’ in both league and cups (17 points from 14 games and early cup exits). Fitton later admitted giving Wilson the benefit of the doubt and time because of his play-off achievements was a massive mistake.

5. Relegation fighters? – Wilson assembled the squad with only promotion in-mind. So does it come as a surprise that a bunch of players motivating themselves for promotion fails when faced with the opposite? The problem was that this ‘promotion squad’ couldn’t even get that task right, as they failed to make any impact on the top half of the table.

Many of the new signings had turned down moves to Championship or ambitious clubs to be part of a great new challenge. Prutton turned down Brighton, Dossevi and Rose a few Championship clubs and they ultimately couldn’t give a toss when the club form dipped.

Having gone through the squad only two had previous relegation experience in their careers. Those being Rose with Stockport (although he was on-loan at Norwich) and Prutton in his days at Southampton. The lack of vital experience meant that we were only going to come out on the losing side in the relegation dog fight.

6January transfer window – With Wilson given a final chance to put it right and make purchases in January where were the replacements and experienced fighters? Instead we were treated to signing players we already had (Ritchie), signing a non-league defender with promise but no League experience, an injury prone young defender from Celtic who probably is never going to play for Town and a League Two striker who is again one for the future…

7. Loan failures – After the failure of the January transfer window weren’t we told experienced loan players would arrive and make the difference… Frampton isn’t anywhere near as good as Greer or Morrison, Obika couldn’t give a shit, Grella lost interest, Andrew had spent too much time with Pericard learning how not to make any effort, and N’Diaye was ineffective and looked lost.

Paul Hart = Big mistake

8. Appointing Paul Hart – Yes hindsight is a virtue, however the appointment of Paul Hart clearly did more harm than good. With his history of disenfranchising the dressing room, lack of time and options available to bring in new faces all meant he was on a hiding to nothing. Bodin knows the players and I’m sure would’ve got more out of them, to at least ensure we would’ve gone down fighting.

9. Individual mistakes – Haven’t there been loads of mistakes this season… Phil Smith’s distribution versus Hartlepool, Scott Cuthbert being caught in possession against Notts County… etc. etc., I’ll even go so far as criticsing Jonathan Douglas for shooting too often from distance in desparation for his first league goal with little sucess (1 goal from 43 shots in 39 games). The point is all players can shoulder part of the blame for our failures.

10. We haven’t won at home in 2011 – That’s 12 games, a potential 36 points where we have taken just 7 points from draws in 2011. If you can’t win your home games then you just don’t deserve to stay up.

New deal…or no deal?

Following on from the release of Alan O’Brien and Thomas Dossevi, there are nine other Swindon Town players out of contract at the end of the season.

We all know about Alan Sheehan’s lack of commitment to the club after going without permission to play for Preston North End in a trial match, but what about the rest, do they deserve a new contract at Town?

Scott Cuthbert – So often lost in the centre of defence since the departure of Gordon Greer, Cuthbert has certainly made his fair share of mistakes this season, but of course he isn’t the only one in the team to suffer that fate. What can you put that down to? Well an unsettled back four throughout the season hasn’t helped. Cuthbert is certainly a player for the future and one to build the team around. Also given that we paid £100,000 for him, this is money the club need to recoup if he were to go, so can’t see the board not exercising their option for an additional year.  NEW DEAL

Jonathan Douglas – By his own admission hasn’t played his best this season. Douglas has been asked to play too deep, often the sole outlet for a pass from our panicking defenders and quickly closed down by the opposition, leading to possession being given away in our own half. Despite all this I couldn’t imagine the team without him and if he doesn’t stay at Swindon many Championship and League One teams will be tracking his progress. NEW DEAL

Lecsinel Jean-Francois – The Haitian is a very useful and versatile defender, who on the rare occasion, puts in a stella performance and shows his quality. I like Lecsinel, he’s professional, gets on with the job and never gives up. Aparently Swansea were interested in signing Lecsinel earlier this year, which shows he has ability to possibly play at a higher level. A good League Two player and a worthwhile squad player for the new season. NEW DEAL 

Jakub Jesionkowski –  With David Lucas and Phil Smith (why?) signing new contract extensions, I’d be surprised if the Polish keeper stays around for another season of reserve football and loans to Oxford City. He cam to Swindon with great promise having been called up for the Polish u21 squad. Deserves first team games, but isn’t going to get the opportunity here. NO DEAL

Vincent Pericard – Where do we start with Big Vince… immobile, can’t jump, can’t score, painful to watch  etc. to name only a few failings. I can’t really see Vinny making a mark on League Two and we really need a better option upfront to hold up the ball. Vincent’s wages can be better saved or spent elsewhere such as on a sack of spuds or a bag of cement. errrr… NO DEAL!

Mark Scott – Of the two out of contract keepers, Scott gets my vote for a new contract. Still to make his league debut for Town, I was very impressed with his superb performances for Swindon Supermarine in their FA Cup run earlier this season. Excellent shot stopper and a local lad who came through the youth team. NEW DEAL

Nathan Thompson – Nathan was finally given his chance against Torquay United in the FL Trophy after coming on as a substitute. An excellent attacking performance in the cup secured a start at home to Charlton a few weeks later, however whilst Nathan didn’t discredit himself, the match highlighted the need for Nathan to get more first team football under his belt. Various injuries held him back from being sent out on loan, so deserves the chance to impress and a season in League Two provides that. NEW DEAL

Michael Timlin – Our second longest serving player at the club (behind Phil Smith), who played an instrumental role in the second half of our last campaign in League Two. With opportunities limited earlier this season I expected him to be sold, however he’s forced his way back into the reckoning, but failed to impress with an inconsistent campaign. If Douglas signs up and Prutton stays, is there really a need for another defensive minded midfielder? With the two youth graduates (Matt Clark and Abdul Said) providing further midfield options next season, I’m afraid you’re surplus to requirements…NO DEAL

Hotshot Charlie Austin

The Adver Comment this morning ‘Hotshot Charlie Austin Must Be Replaced” made an good, if obvious point, on the need to replace Charlie Austin with at least 1 new forward at Town. The Adver commented:

The reason for this is that in terms of hitting the back of the net, the two other most regular forwards in the squad have simply not cut it this season.

You can’t argue with the stats. Vincent Pericard has made 24 appearances and scored six goals, while Thomas Dossevi has turned out on 24 occasions and registered three times.

In contrast, Austin made 27 appearances and bagged 17 goals, making him nearly twice as effective in front of goal as his two teammates put together.

To put Charlie’s importance in another and equally stark way…

Austin 21 12 34 27 2 3.000 1.619 53.97% 19.05%
Morrison 19 4 6 5 0 0.579 0.316 54.55% 36.36%
Ritchie 16 3 12 10 0 1.375 0.750 54.55% 13.64%
Dossevi 20 3 14 13 0 1.350 0.700 51.85% 11.11%
McGovern 24 3 12 13 0 1.042 0.500 48.00% 12.00%
Rose 19 3 6 5 2 0.684 0.316 46.15% 23.08%
Prutton 22 2 10 11 1 1.000 0.455 45.45% 9.09%
Pericard 18 2 8 6 0 0.778 0.444 57.14% 14.29%
Ball 18 2 7 4 1 0.667 0.389 58.33% 16.67%
Sheehan 11 1 5 3 0 0.727 0.455 62.50% 12.50%
Timlin 9 1 2 3 0 0.556 0.222 40.00% 20.00%
Cuthbert 26 1 2 2 0 0.154 0.077 50.00% 25.00%
Douglas 20 0 1 11 1 0.650 0.050 7.69% 0.00%
Amankwaah 12 0 1 6 0 0.583 0.083 14.29% 0.00%
Caddis 19 0 2 3 0 0.263 0.105 40.00% 0.00%
Frampton 6 0 0 1 0 0.167 0.000 0.00% 0.00%
Ferry 15 0 0 2 0 0.133 0.000 0.00% 0.00%
Jean-Francois 9 0 0 1 0 0.111 0.000 0.00% 0.00%
O’Brien 16 0 1 0 0 0.063 0.063 100.00% 0.00%
Bodin 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.00% 0.00%
Kennedy 3 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.00% 0.00%
Thompson 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.00% 0.00%

P=Played, G=Goals, SOT=Shots on target, SOF=Shots off target, SWO=Shots hit woodwork, SPG=Shots per game, SOTP/G=Shots on target per game, %SOT=Percentage of shots on target, %S=G= Percentage shots equal goals – League performances only

Austin is clear leader in goals, total number of shots, he averages 3 shots per game with 1.625 shots per game more than anyone else, 1.619 shots on target per game at 0.87 more than anyone else and beating his former striking partners Pericard and Dossevi in terms of percentage of shots that are scored.

I’ll give Pericard his due…he does get more of his shots on target than Austin, but he is isn’t in the same class as Charlie.

If anything the figures also emphasise the accuracy of Morrison, who is no longer a Robin…

PS… As Austin has left, I’ve changed the banner at the top of the page. I hope it is clear enough on your computer and if you have any problems please let me know :)

Austin, Austin, Austin, Austin…

I’m getting a tad tired of the Charlie Austin transfer saga.

Finally we’ve accepted an offer from Ipswich and Charlie has got in his tractor to Suffolk to discuss terms.

Whether this offer meets the fan’s valuation we await to find out… hopefully a significant upfront sum plus a good sell on clause would keep me happy for now.

What’s more important is to have some degree of certainty of who is coming in to replace Charlie.

Time is ticking on the transfer window closing and I’m a little worried about the prospect of Pericard and Dossevi upfront, although Billy Bodin should be given his chance after only a bit-part role away at Dagenham earlier in the season.

I can’t see Town splashing out the Austin cash on a new striker and instead I can see Wilson bringing in an experienced forward (or two) in on loan for the remainder of the campaign with an option to purchase.

A Danny Ward, Simon Cox or Billy Paynter returning on loan would be a good boast to morale!