Norwegian STFC Review: August

Our resident Norwegian Hans J. Tandsether of gives his view on August and a less than inspiring start to Town under Di Canio.

Dear fellow fans of Town. August has just ended and to be honest a month back I was kind of expecting Swindon to go into September top four in League Two. As we all know that is not the case. In fact we go into September fourth from bottom and the 88th place of the pyramid.

Honestly I didn’t see it coming when Paul Bodin led us to a solid win away against Tranmere on the last day of the last campaign. I for one thought Paul Bodin should be given the nod as a manager and that we were going to build on young players from within in League Two. Still I must admit I was thrilled about the news that Paolo Di Canio was going to be our new boss. The Canio! What a great prospect for Swindon Town. Even in Norwegian newspapers Swindon hit the headlights in the sports section. Di Canio was always going to get Swindon into the limelight – for better or worse.

The only thing that bothered me was his lack of knowledge to English fourth tier football. Teams do not play like in the Championship or the Premier League. Most teams have a more direct and more physical approach. I was also a bit unsure about all of the signings. Atiku had never set the world on fire at Swedish third tier, and Risser did not impress anybody when playing in Norway – in both the Premier League and the third tier.

My negativity aside I got really surprised when tuning into the opening match against Crewe. The first 45 sounded dire but after three goals we went top of the table after the first hurdle. What a great start although a poor first half. We were supposed to go right into a game vs. Bristol City in the league cup, but the riots in UK got the game postponed.

Expectations raised and I expected three new points vs. Cheltenham – a team I thought were going to be fighting in the relegation zone this season. The police in Cheltenham were postponing the game but later changed their mind. The riots had not even reached Cheltenham so it was quite surprising that they for once thought about it. For my part I was stuck in the middle of nowhere that
Saturday evening on the annual canoe trip with my mates. I used my smart phone and a live score app to get the results over from SN1 to the beautiful Fjorda district in Norway. The game ended 0-1 and I have never been so glad to be the owner of a big bottle of Irish blended whiskey. On Tuesday we will turn the tide!

Jeez! After 90 minutes on STFC World I found myself starting to already loose the huge optimism from the summer. Another 0-1 loss at Dagenham and a minor depression came knocking. Well next up was Oxford United. The biggest game of the season and a sell-out at the County Ground. Three points against Oxford was all that mattered.

Earlier this year I got the job as toastmaster in a friend’s wedding scheduled for Saturday the 20th. I called the FA and told them they had to postpone the game against Oxford one day so I could be able to listen to it. Sunday noon I was just back home after the overnight wedding and to my missus disbelief the first thing I did when returning home was to tune into STFC World. Stuck at the kitchen with ear plugs while my mum-in-law and dad-in-law sat in the living room entertained by everyone but me. I don’t think they are quite aware of the importance a local derby have – even for a foreign fan as me. I didn’t bother trying to explain it either.

FFS! Another game lost. This time 1-2 at home against Pox. How utterly humiliating. My mood went from good to bad and I started to really think about the big decision made by Jeremy Wray earlier in the summer. The inexperienced new manager Di Canio and a whole bunch of players with no experience from English lower league football. Fringe players at their former clubs and injury prone.

The coming Tuesday we outplayed Bristol City at Ashton Gate and I listened to the whole game plus post game interviews online. What a night! Forget Cheltenham, Dag & Red and Oxford, our new season starts here to continue at Shrewsbury on Saturday. Paolo Di Canio thought exactly the same as me.

No it didn’t. Against Shrewsbury we lost another game 1-2. I didn’t have the chance to listen to that game but I followed it live through other live score sources.

After every weekend I download the Football League show where I can see all the highlights from League Two. One thing is clear. We are in deep shit on defensive set pieces. Di Canio seems not to bother have anyone on the rear post at defensive corners and free kicks and we looked fragile in the air.

One solid exception though: Player of the season so far, Aden Flint. Signed from non-league in January Flint is strong in the air, has good height and the most important thing got experience from English lower competitive football. A different style both mental and physical than most of our continental new signings are used to from back home.

The month ended on Tuesday with a 1-3 loss against a good Southampton side in the League Cup second round. I had £30 on Swindon but saw the money as lost in the first ten minutes. Southampton sounded class but I think Swindon once again did a good job in the second half. I was about to log off STFC World when I heard the commentator say something about a bust-up in the tunnel and that Leon Clarke were refusing to leave the pitch. I had to stay up and awake. We are one hour later than you in Norway so local time I sat up till over midnight just to catch some news on the radio about what’s happened.

The month that started so bright with a 3-0 victory at home ended so dark with negative headlights in most newspapers. Leon Clarke was always going to be a huge risk and even if Di Canio took on the risk of having him at the club he managed just 12 days before the going got too tough. Another Leon comes to mind and as we leave August on a low. I hope we start September on a high.

Swindon – Rotherham will show on Sky Sports and I will stream the game at home – my first visual 90 minutes of Swindon this season – I’m so looking forward to that one!


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