Andy’s Angle: Expectations are changing…

Andrew Steele-Davis asks have your hopes and expectations changed yet? We are barely three months into the season yet Swindon Town are flying high and playing some of the best football you are ever likely to witness in the Football League. It’s all a far cry from the summer…

Swindon dealt out yet another footballing lesson on Friday night with Notts County having endured an evening they will want to erase from the memory banks sooner rather than later. Town absolutely pummelled their guests from the East Midlands and if it wasn’t for an inspired performance from Bartosz Bialkowski then the scoreline would have been considerably greater.

Town’s scintillating display not only delivered an entertaining night of football but it was also enough to propel them into the play-off places just three weeks into October. Now who would have predicted that at the start of the season?

It is fair to say the feeling around the County Ground building up to the 2013/14 campaign was one of trepidation. Everyone was still trying to recover from a season that had more twists and turns than a Formula One track and more drama than Eastenders, Emmerdale and Corrie could ever hope to muster. However, in true Swindon Town fashion more upheaval was just around the corner.

Kevin McDonald’s sudden and somewhat surprising departure from the Swindon hotseat prompted the doom mongers to come out in force predicting a season of struggle and torment, with some even going as far to paint Town as prime candidates for the dreaded drop. Mark Cooper’s appointment as Caretaker Manager and then as Manager on a full-time basis only added fuel to that fire and with a monumental turn over in players, with certain crowd favourites departing for pastures new, it was shaping up to be an eventful campaign.

However, fast forward to today and Mark Cooper’s legion of young, vibrant and hugely talented gems have a chance to strengthen their grip on a play-off place and a chance to continue their billing as one of the most exciting teams in The Football League.

Is this the best brand of football you have ever seen from a Town side? That is the question I have been posing the last few weeks and I have come to the conclusion that the 2013/14 vintage are up there with the most entertaining and captivating side to have ever graced the County Ground turf.

Now some may disagree with me and I wasn’t around to witness the heroes of ’69 and the genius of Rogers, Smart etc. But there is no denying that the squad Cooper – and Lee Power – has assembled have the potential to go a long, long way in the game. In the short term they have more than enough quality at their disposal to make an impression at the top end of the table and really make a concerted push at gaining promotion to the Championship.

Not only have team performances been breathtaking to watch, that elegant, exquisite 39 pass move at Rotherham United springs to mind, but there have also been numerous stunning individual displays to cherish so far this season. Alex Pritchard and Ryan Mason have shown why they are so highly rated by Tottenham, Nathan Thompson is fast developing into one of the best right-backs in the league and then you have Yaser Kasim, someone who struggled to get a game in the Conference last season with Luton and Macclesfield but he has arguably been Swindon’s star performer in Town’s first 16 games. ‘The Swindon Xavi’ has emerged as a terrace favourite among the County Ground faithful and has been the symbol of the fruits of labour Mark Cooper, Jed McCrory and Lee Power have invested in setting up this new transfer policy.

Back to my opening question then, have your hopes and expectations for the remainder of the season changed yet? I know mine have. I openly hold my hands up and admit that back before a ball had been kicked I predicted that Swindon would finish 15th, a season of consolidation and no drama. However, having been witness to the impressive football on show over the last three months I am now altering my earlier prediction and am tipping Town to secure a play-off berth. What about you?

If you are still on the fence and not sure where Swindon will end up then let’s hope that victory over Walsall tonight will alter your expectations for the better…

Until next time…

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