2012/13 Season: Hopes & Expectations – Alex Cooke

Throughout this week our writers reveal their hopes and expectations for Swindon Town in League One during 2012/13. Next up, Alex Cooke…

Hopes and expectations for the season: More of the same. Di Canio will continue to be dangerously mental, often confrontational but also inspirational. He will still be backed generously by the board, chucking out at least one of this summer’s signings to get in another five loanees.

The team will keep playing decent, if slightly predictable, 442 football with at least one cup run and plenty of good results – especially at home. However, the far better strikers in L1 and the less error prone defences will mean we concede a lot more and score slightly less. 10th would be good, any higher and we’ll be dreaming.

Signing of the summer: The one yet to come. So far each signing has been a significant upgrade on what was there before but in the exact same role. The next signing, be it Bostock or someone similar, needs to bring something different – in terms of position and talent. Hines was clearly an attempt to find that alternative – and proves that Di Canio still has the funds to bring in some real quality – but in terms of fitting-in it needs to be soon.

Who will be the key player for STFC in12/13 and why? Matt Ritchie still. Although he will have better support from the left and centre of midfield this season, Ritchie’s ability to attack directly and with pace will still be key.

In the low possession game which Di Canio plays, and the 442 he favours, much of the vertical thrust comes through Ritchie, as do a significant number of the goals. His play also allows Paul Caddis to attack – which he might or might not do depending on Di Canio.

STFC Predicted Final Position: 10th. Last season we were big fish, this season there are others of similar size and similar means – and a couple of sharks. Shorn of our massive fiscal advantage, results will still be good, especially at home but at this higher standard it will be much harder to pick up points – especially when we don’t play well.

League One Promoted: Notts County looked very good for parts of last season under Keith Curle and have added to the squad- albeit with a number of hulking centre forwards. Of course, it could all still go wrong so this is a bit of an outsider bet.

Coventry have a squad with huge experience and plenty of talent but the weight of last season could still hang heavy.

The abomination that is MIlton Keynes could easily be the team to beat. They have a good manager, a decent squad and the forces of darkness on their side.

Finally I feel I have to mention Preston but much as any outsider would have said with us last season there are too many potiental problems with an odd manager and a seemingly thrown together squad.

League One Relegated: Shrewsbury have got far too much rebuilding to do after promotion despite the quality of the team.

Bury flirted last season with the drop and so based on that and little else, I’ll add them, even though they held onto their top scorer.

Walsall have been flirting with the drop for a few years and have a lot of new faces so perhaps this is the one in which they will finally go.

Despite Evans jumping ship, I would dearly like Crawley to be in the four but nasty teams like that can often bludgeon their way out of trouble while good teams like Crewe can’t.

So um… Portsmouth. Whatever late season rally they produce it will be their terrible start to the season which eventually dooms them.

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