‘Tis the season to be cautious at Swindon Town…

Alex Cooke clicked 14th place for Town’s finish in our prediction poll, here he justifies why he’s feeling a bit cautious.

It is not the kind of stuff to get you fully engorged, is it? The new season is almost upon us and Sky et al are giving it more bells and whistles than a Leper Pride parade. But are we Town fans feeling it? Nope. My dreams of promotion are already melting like a dead elephant’s ice-cream.

Already Saturday’s match against Scunthorpe United is going to be the lowest key opener since Queen Vic cut the ribbon on the Great Exhibition with the immortal words ‘I’d leave it for a bit, if I were one’. Why? One short-term loan signing and one permanent deal – it’s hardly the stuff of transfer deadline tea break let alone a whole day. Obviously signings aren’t a good to judge how a season is going to progress, but we all do it. Don’t we?

But there does seem to be a whiff of desperation about the place, and not just among the terminally angry. Everyone seems to feel that we’d been promised more than yet another ex-Brighton midfielder and a man/child from Derby.

Where is the promised long-term planning? The stable relationship with the big club? It all still feels as ad hoc as Jed’s promise of a double-glazed bar in every stand by Christmas. But there is still time – so long as Lee Power can still sleep-dial Liverpool and Southampton every hour until Saturday.

So much of this mess seems to stem from spending the summer jabbing at our eyes with the rusty nail of disharmony. Thanks to Jed McCrory and the legal process dragging like a legless giraffe’s scrotum, we seem short of everything including sponsors, season ticket holders and players.

Okay, so the midfield should be stronger than last season, bar the loss of Pritchard, but the defence is a bit of a worry. All we really have is Raphael Rossi Branco, and he fits what we have seen of his countrymen this summer – passionate and brutal but little of the calm, control or command needed to lead. The only other option is Darren Ward and he creaks like the scary door in a horror movie.

The season’s other ‘delight’ looks likely to be Bristol City’s impending flirtation with the wrong end of the table. Yes, this season they should push for promotion. After all they’ve spent even more money on even more players, so where can it possibly go wrong? Well, hopefully in the same way it has in the previous 22 years of their existence.

Chasing their tails (and that might only be a metaphor judging by my visits to Bedminster) will be Preston,
Sheffield United and Leyton Orient. But don’t take my word for it, get a pin and a blindfold of your own. See if you think Barnsley will join that band.

What are the positives for Swindon? We’ve held onto all of the best players who were actually ours (To be honest the really good ones weren’t ours anyway, except Nile Ranger and really he was only on loan from the Crown Prosecution Service). We’ve got some good youngster coming through and many of our previous youngsters, such as Louis Thompson and Ben Gladwin, look ready to be regulars.

Some people, less cheery or relentlessly positive than me, have pointed a bony finger at the lack of experience in the team – the lack of a seasoned pro. A Lillian Nalis figure, if you will. Or a Steve Adams. Or an Alberto Commazi? So I’ll take that as a positive too.

In conclusion, it’s going to be a duffer. Largely. There will be good bits and bad. Town should have enough to stay above the likes of Crewe, Gillingham and Colchester – especially if the promised additions are faxed through before 11.59. However, we won’t be troubling the top half of the table, unless… unless… Nope, just it’s not enough to get me excited.

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