Great manager, great expectations, Swindon are going up!

It can’t just be me. The arrival of Paolo Di Canio has signalled a total shift in my outlook and expectations for the season ahead. So much so that I’m throwing away caution and struggling to accept anything other than complete domination of League Two.

Call me arrogant for believing this, particularly those outsiders of you reading this looking in, yet having experienced all that has surrounded Swindon Town in recent months I firmly believe in Project Paolo.Of course expecting this isn’t necessarily a healthy view, leaving a slenderest of margins to avoid utter disappointment, in what will undoubted be a tough test and we can expect our opposition will be upping their game against us. I went down a similar route twelve months ago, swept along by the later misguided hope that 2009/10 could at least be repeated, sticking a £30 stake on Town finish in the top three, and look how that materialised. I’ve eaten my words several times.

Now today upon the dawn of a whole new campaign why shouldn’t I peer ahead through the eyes of Di Canio, his passion and enthusiasm that has gripped the club at all levels? His high aims are the same as mine. Why shouldn’t we believe anything other than promotion, automatically, preferably adding silverware with the League Two title, is not the minimum target? Let’s prove those doubters suggesting we’re only as good as a push for the play-offs at best are wrong. Show me a Swindon fan who doesn’t want to believe this?

Yes, I’m setting myself up for another dramatic fall from grace and the humble pie is already on order, but this year there’s something of a completely different smell about our chances. Gone is Wilson’s stench of a Wembley hangover, replaced by a strong waft of parmesan, freshness of pesto and smoking Vespa whizzing past in the narrow streets of Rome.

Back in May the unveiling of Di Canio brought with him the prospect of a whirlwind of a pre-season and true to form and the man, that’s exactly how it’s unfolded. I’ve never known a pre-season like this. To get somewhere close you’d need to go back eleven years to Colin Todd’s ill fated transfer signing splurge to get anywhere this close in terms of new arrivals. For pure anticipation look back to the post Wembley 1993 prospects of facing life in the Premier League. So 3pm on Saturday and Crewe at home – not normally a standout fixture if I’m honest – can’t be more a more hyped first league game.

Paolo’s regime has revamped the club from top to bottom with his new backroom staff, a new diet, a new mentality, attitude, inserting discipline, passion and much needed direction. Add into the mix the twelve new signings ensuring seven new faces appeared in the starting line up against Reading friendly compared to Tranmere back in May, and you’ve got a young but buzzing squad brimming with fight and desire. You can see in the friendlies they are actually a team. Yes a team, not individuals. Already bonded and working as a unit, learning to win and importantly how to recover from defeat together. That’s something which should be normal in professional sport but as we already well know this rarely happens in practice.

To me it’s more than this as we’ve never been involved in the build up like this before. Thanks to the club getting their act together, an open and frank manager, social media properly utilised and Gary Rose’s excellent pre-season updates on the Italian tour and proper coverage by The Adver, we’ve all been swept along with the ride. For me this summer, a summer which I expected to be a bit quieter hence the managers feature, has been more newsworthy than some seasons.

With a day to go until kick off there’s no reason why positivity and optimism can’t follow us to and from the County Ground, even if we lose. Our future is looking as bright as Di Canio’s tan.

So thank fuck Paul Hart was given the push back in April… I know what I’ll be singing at Valley Parade on the 5th May at 4.45… “Ei Ei Ei Ei O Up The Football League We Go..!”

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