Swindon Town played some great football in League One last season, perhaps the best behind runaway winners Bristol City. That culminated in an incredible play-off semi-final vs Sheffield United, but their habit of leaking goals ensured they suffered a heavy defeat in the final to Preston North End. Nearly 3 months on, key players have departed and it appears it will be a much tougher season for Mark Cooper this time around.
Last Season: League One (4th)
Manager: Mark Cooper
GKs: Lawrence Vigouroux, Tyrell Belford
DFs: Nathan Thompson, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Jordan Williams, Jordan Turnbull, James Brophy, Raphael Branco
MFs: Fabien Robert, Drissa Traore, Yaser Kasim, Nathan Byrne, Kevin Stewart, Will Randall, Lee Marshall, Anton Rodgers, Ellis Landolo
FWs: Michael Smith, Jonathan Obika, Josh Cooke, Jermaine Hylton, Miles Storey
In: Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill (Arsenal), Drissa Traore (Notts County), Fabien Robert (Lorient), Ellis Landolo (Soccer Elite Academy), Jordan Williams (Liverpool – Loan), Kevin Stewart (Liverpool – Loan), Jordan Turnbull (Southampton – Loan), Lawrence Vigouroux (Liverpool – Loan), James Brophy (Free)
Out: Ben Gladwin (QPR), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Harry Agombar (Released), Josue Antonio (Released), George Barker (Released), Jack Barthram (Cheltenham Town), Cameron Belford (Wrexham), Wes Foderingham (Rangers), Matty Jones (Chippenham Town), Connor Waldon (Swindon Supermarine), Darren Ward (Released), Andy Williams (Doncaster Rovers)
First Six: Bradford City (H), Bury (A), Port Vale (H), Southend United (A), Sheffield United (H), Crewe Alexandra (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-3-3) Vigouroux – Thompson, Williams, Turnbull, Ormonde-Ottewill – Kasim, Traore, Robert – Byrne, Hylton, Obika
A word from…Sam Parkin
On Joining Swindon I had a year on my contract at Chelsea, where I started, and the foreign influx of players under Ruud Gullit had began in earnest. I’d been out on loan a few times and had spoken to Jim Jeffries at Kilmarnock and was about to go there when I got the call from Andy King.
I came down and played a few friendlies and that was it..I signed. It turned out to be a good move; not far from my West London roots and the people were lovely; one I didn’t regret. I knew about Swindon from the Hoddle team and them doing the double over my team, QPR, in the Premier League!
On the highs and lows They were three great seasons. I can’t say enough about Kingy as a bloke, a manager and as a character. He might have divided opinion amongst fans, but he was a top man. I think that quirkiness overshadowed what a devoted football man he was. He watched games every night, knew every player from every division..a complete football anorak! But he was a very kind man.
One of my Swindon highlights was being given the armband when we played QPR. He knew it was my team and that was a great gesture. It was the most productive time of my career as a striker. A hat-trick on my début and the second season run to the play-offs were great. That season’s partnership with Tommy (Mooney) was prolific and Andy brought in players like Igoe and Milner which made us a dangerous side. Losing in the play-offs on penalties was, obviously, a big low as I think promotion would have changed the whole club. I might have been there longer and others, like Mooney, might have stayed.
There were financial problems off the field but they never really affected the lads. I was lucky to play with a few good strikers at Swindon and I left the club on good terms. Hearing my name being sung in my last game, even though the fans knew I was leaving, was special. That’s why I’ve stayed involved with the club on the community and media side. It’s a great club.
On the current set up I know there’s been a lot of off-field stuff about the media relationship between chairman and club…with the club going down the social media ‘app’ route. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. What I do know is that Lee Power, Mark Cooper and his staff have done an amazing job. There seemed a lot of negativity at the start of last season, with us tipped for relegation and few bodies in place. But Mark built a team and a way of playing that had everyone talking about Swindon.
It was high risk football, playing out from the back and was a pleasure to watch. We probably needed a few more experienced heads in as the season progressed and, perhaps, we were a bit naive and rigid at times. But, nobody expected Swindon to go within one game of promotion and the philosophy and principles Mark implemented proved to be right.
On prospects I’ve been very impressed pre-season. It feels very much like last season, where we are having to put a team together to compete. It’s great that we have a new training ground bought, which will be good long-term. I like the acquisitions, the two from Liverpool and the full back from Arsenal. Mark’s also got more than one system in place so they can play with a four or a three at the back. I know he’s not going to compromise his principles about how the team plays. That’s why Brendan Rogers has loaned players to us, he knows they’ll play in the right way.
Can we push for promotion? Ask me in about a month (laughs..) I think we need another striker for sure to complement Obika, Hylton and Smith. We need to hang on to players also..like Nathan Thompson, Yaser Kasim and Nathan Byrne. I reckon there’s going to be about seven or eight teams in contention and, yes, we could well be one of them especially with a couple more additions. Having Jordan Turnbull back again is a real plus so it looks like things are starting to come together. Bradford on opening day will be a good test as I’m sure they will be up there. Hopefully, we will be too.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: With the likes of Luongo and Gladwin gone, Swindon have taken several talented youngsters on loan from Premier League sides. Mark Cooper is optimistic but with so many changes in the team, it might be a season of transition for Swindon this time around.
Key Player: Nathan Thompson – The captain will need to lead by example, he’ll have guided some young players through a tough summer and several more have arrived over the summer. The strong defender has been at the club since 2008 now and is as committed to the cause as anyone.
One to Watch: Despite the amount of youngsters arriving, it was 26-year-old Fabien Robert who caught the eye in pre-season. He had a brief loan spell at Doncaster three years ago, if he can continue his pre-season form he could be a real steal for Swindon and Mark Cooper.