Learning to play the Swindon Town way…
Steve Fleming asks whether Swindon Town’s direction to ‘play the Mark Cooper way’ was the right strategy as the season unfolded..?
Mark Cooper is determined to play one way and in one style, at all costs. He says it’s a learning process but are we expecting too much from an inexperienced young team to have them play a way which may not be best suited to League One?
Football is about success; we all want and crave success. Town had a realistic chance of securing a play-off position as the season developed and perhaps the overall strategy could’ve changed to substance and the basics to reflect our transition from pre-season ‘relegation favourites’ to potential promotion challengers after we started to lose a grip on 6th place.
Isn’t it then best to start at getting the basics right in each position, rather than burden a young player with a certain style of play? Entertainment is one reason which has been given for continuing with the style approach, a style that’s been made popular by our current World Cup winners, however entertainment on the pitch doesn’t equate to this approach. It can equally be a pinpoint cross, a well-timed tackle, even a last ditch boot into row Z.
Style also doesn’t always equate to success even at the highest levels of football. Even teams with style, such as our greatest Town teams between 1990-1993 needed substance. Steve White and Shaun Taylor may not have been the most stylish, but they had a substance, solidity and knew their roles. The basics of their game and natural fight seem to be what we lack at the moment and it was disappointing the team wasn’t strengthened in January to fix those deficiencies.
Cooper admits the current crop of players are “invariably young, trying to learn and trying to find their way in the game”, however are these payers restricted by the way he’s asking them to play and has this been hindering our chances? His view for some weeks is “we want to win as many games as we can, trying to play the way we play and see what happens” but as we’ve lost ground and with only one win in 12 games a rethink of the approach is needed; that Plan ‘B’ which has been sorely missing.
There are a lot of questions but ultimately does Mark Cooper have the answers? Time will tell, but to truly play the style both he and Power want they need to dictate and consistently play a high tempo, have players with experience and the vision who have that bit extra on-the-ball. The current team lacks experience and the stamina needed to play this style of football successfully for 46 league matches, meaning that Cooper’s perseverance of this style is adding unnecessary pressure to our team.
I want the team to do well and Cooper to succeed, but remember entertainment is different for all and one style is not always it. Substance and style blend would suit me fine!
What do you think? Do you enjoy our style of play and Cooper’s view that this approach will persist no matter what? Or alternatively did you find a direct system with surging runs and effective use of the flanks dull, or just as entertaining?
Follow Steve Fleming on Twitter @stevebecks2000