A Mature English Blend

Seven new players have already joined the Paolo Di Canio regime for the 2012/2013 season and the transfer window hasn’t officially opened yet. Our writer Adam Johnson looks into the signings and the possible impact they could have in the year ahead…

If Paolo Di Canio has a favourite Whiskey, based on our signings, we all know what he’d probably shop for.

Last season none of us knew his preference but it did seem to be anything from anywhere. Seven names have come through the door at SN1 and twelve, with four of those on the transfer list, will be leaving. Paolo summed it up best when he said: “I like shopping, maybe I have become a woman.”

Andy Williams, James Collins, Gary Roberts, Jay McEveley, Alan Navarro, Tommy Miller and Troy Archibald-Henville are the recruits so far and more are expected. These names, plus those linked for future transfers, all have one thing in common: They’re English and have played in the Football League before to a level of success.

It’s not a rocket science formula that I’ve unravelled but it’s something that Paolo has learnt from last season. He told us that even though we won the League and had one of the best seasons in recent times, he was still learning. This might be one of the lessons he has taken on board.

We’ve signed players that have been there, done it and are adjusted to the Football League style, unlike Lukas Magera and Alberto Comazzi to name but two.

This season, the experience of the new signings is quite extraordinary. Williams and Collins between them scored 33 goals in League One and Two last season. Our new midfield trio of Roberts, Navarro and Miller have played over 950 games in the Football League and the defensive duo of McEveley and ‘Troy’ have played over 250 games.

Navarro, talking about this vast of experience, said: “I’ve been up and down the leagues all my career and I understand how things go in football and how the game should be played. I think my experience and a couple of the other lads’ experience will obviously help some of the younger lads to know what is needed in this league.”

With the vibe coming out of the County Ground being one of a push for promotion rather than a season of mid table obscurity, these signings are a massive boost to the cause. In the 2011/2012 season we had little experience in the side, which may have hindered us in big game situations like Oxford and Wembley for the JPT Final, but definitely had the quality for League Two.

The Town squad isn’t an overly youthful one but some crucial first team players are under the age of 24, such as new recruits Troy Archibald-Henville and James Collins along with Matt Ritchie, Aden Flint and Luke Rooney who are potential first team starters.

Experienced players will need to usher these guys along as League One will be tougher. Players like Ritchie and Rooney had moments of getting lost and being marked out of games, hopefully with the experience in and around them, they’ll be able to find that bit of space for the two wingers to move into or take pressure off in a game where they’re struggling.

Also, the side won’t be relying on just one leader to get the team going. You’d hope with all this experience a team ethos of knowing your job and how to do it successfully will evolve to be effective in all manners of situations.

He isn’t just bringing experience on the pitch but off it too with players who will be mature in training, learning from experiences such as Leon Clarke.

Paolo will want all his players to fight for the cause and do a professional job, he said: ‘‘If people didn’t understand already, we want to bring the mentality even if we are at Swindon “We want to have the professionalism of Barcelona or Chelsea’’ because I don’t see why, even if we are in League One, we can’t behave as a professional like Barcelona or Chelsea.’’

The whole club seems to be going under a revamp of hungry fighters who have done it and want more. The latter isn’t a new trait that Di Canio likes and fans will always support a team that are at least trying when it’s a bad day. Warriors, not Chihuahuas, will be needed as League One is going to be a hard proposition.

These experienced players also bring the option for versatility in the team setup. Di Canio likes to mix his team depending on the opposition rather than having a standard eleven. Through these signings you can see potentials for a Plan A, B and C that last season we struggled to find.

Away from home, with the added experience of Miller and Navarro in centre midfield, we will look tougher. Alex Cooke is our Washbag tactics man to ask but a common away performance theme is to be hard to break down. With the addition of these two defensive minded midfielders we may see a Plan B of playing one up front with a man just off the striker.

It could be vital to use this experience away from the CG to soak up the pressure a home side automatically has and strike when necessary. Gary Roberts would add a defensive nature too out wide by tracking back and attacking the full back when the opportunity arises.

At home, it will give creative players the licence to take the game to the opposition. With an experienced sitting midfielder, such as Miller or Navarro, against a team who will likely defend deep it could allow more freedom for the rest of the side to venture forward.

The only issue with all this is where do you fit everyone in? With Connell, Smith, Cox and Lanzano transfer listed and Magera departing the squad is being trimmed. Not everyone will play every game, and Paolo has a job for each of them when they are called upon, he said: ‘‘I want ambitious players, not ones who want a two-year contract and they don’t care if they stay at home, on the bench, on the field or two years’ injury’’.

No one will be carried as Swindon aim for back to back promotions as the countdown to Hartlepool continues. 50 days…


  • Nice post. I would also count it as extremely significant that so much of the team is in place for pre-season. Obviously this is in complete contrast to last year. While we won’t be working on shape very much in Italy, it will mean we aren’t doing exactly that during the first few games of the season.


    • Reading in the Adver today that the shape and tactics are already being worked on. Can only be a good thing to get the team working as a defensive unit already. Roll on the good times…


  • Thanks Alex. That is also a good point. Tactics and team should be settled by Hartlepool away. Rather than those horrible trips to Dagenham and Cheltenham at the start of last season.


  • Yes I agree. This season is going to be one to remember and for all the right reasons. I am really looking forward to seeing Matt blend in with this experience in midfield and upfront. What a treat we have in store. Thank you Paulo


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