One month ago, Swindon were 12th in League One following wins against Southampton, Walsall and Huddersfield.
The signs were promising for an ascent into the playoff positions, especially given the congested league table, but since then, a solitary win against Bristol Rovers leaves Town 16th, but knowing that the gap between the very top and bottom is ever widening.
After last weekend’s rollercoaster-ride of a performance against Posh, the Swindon team find themselves at a crossroads – and not for the first time this season! In the aftermath of that game, both manager Danny Wilson and his players have had to hold their hands up and acknowledge that it was, despite four goals scored, a “bad day at the office.”
Presumably the team has analysed what went wrong and spent the week addressing the issues on the training ground. And, if the rallying cries that have echoed from the camp are to be believed, it is the players who will put their heads above the parapet and seek to put things right on Saturday when they entertain Leyton Orient.
Jonathon Douglas recognises that the team needs to perform against every side in the division, not just the bigger clubs that have already been sent away from the County Ground with their tails between their legs. He warned that his players “need to prove it week in, week out because we don’t want to get too far behind.” Typically stoic with a captain’s straight bat, he added that: “It’s not just the back four who need to cut out the mistakes, it’s the lads up front and us in midfield as well.”
Not one to shy away, fellow midfielder David “Rambo” Prutton provided his own assessment of the side’s inconsistent form, defending his manager in the process. “The players are the only ones on the pitch who can do it and of course it is our fault,” was his rather blunt acceptance of any blame. Referring to the “naivety” in evidence during some matches, Prutton cut to the main issue when pointing out the obvious: “Any team like ours who talk about getting up the league have to be more consistent and better over the course of the season.”
So, can the players raise their game? When you look at some of the performances, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” The team currently has injury doubts over Douglas and Vincent Pericard, but Wilson is confident that he has the personnel to fill in.
Indeed, the squad has already coped without in-form absentees, Michael Rose slotting in for Alan Sheehan and David Ball seizing his chance up front. Any return to the starting line-up of Charlie Austin will also give everyone around the club a lift.
And despite their youth, Rose, Ball, Austin and others, Sean Morrison, Paul Caddis and Matt Ritchie have all risen to the occasion this season. Their goals and man-of-the-match shifts must be the springboard that galvanises the squad and ensures a thorough demonstration of their right to challenge in this division.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.