By Connor Mountford
Tim Sherwood was a shock appointment for every fan of Swindon Town Football Club.
For all the right reasons, of course. With him he brought a new sense of purpose, a sense of hope for the club that we could finally get out of this run of bad form, start winning a few games and get out of the relegation battle.
It started well. Charlton Athletic were the first team to play this rejuvenated Swindon side, and Sherwood’s impact showed. A strong 3-0 win in front of the Sky Sports cameras showed the ‘Sherwood effect’ in full motion. Fast forward just a few days, however, and it’s a completely different story.
Tuesday night saw Eastleigh make the trip to the County Ground for the FA Cup first-round replay. An easy win, some would think, following the weekend’s dominating performance. But fans turning up on the day were disappointed.
My dad and his friend (season ticket holders) debated going to the FA Cup replay before the Charlton game, after that win they knew they’d be going, hoping for a similar result. Swindon went on to lose 3-1.
THREE-ONE. How can a League One side go from winning 3-0 four days earlier to then losing 3-1 to a side in non-League?
The team were poor, they were dominated by the non-League visitors. Boos rang out at half-time as Town went in 2-0 down.
Sherwood had come down to the touchline after the first goal went in and fans were hoping for the boys to come back out and put on a show, a comeback, win 3-2 after being 2-0 down, every fan’s dream. It wasn’t to happen. Eastleigh quickly put the game beyond doubt by scoring a third. Delfouneso got a consolation goal, but that was all it was.
Roll on Saturday. An away trip to Rochdale. Putting the FA Cup exit behind them, fans travelled to the game hoping for back-to-back away wins. Wrong. Town lost 4-0. Once again Town were dominated, having only six shots at goal over the course of 90 minutes.
Not to mention that Swindon had now conceded two penalties in two games (Eastleigh’s third goal was a converted penalty).
What is going wrong at the club? After the two defeats it’s now pretty clear that it wasn’t a staff issue. The players just don’t have it in them. When Sherwood came in, during his press conference, he stated that there was a lack of experience in the team, and that we would need to strengthen during January (due to the lack of the emergency loan window this season).
It’s clear that, after the two defeats, the squad is clearly lacking leadership. Complacency could be blamed for the FA Cup defeat, the players could have felt they would walk the game without even trying, but the fact that there was even need for the replay should have told them otherwise.
Although it’s too early to judge what impact Sherwood has had so far, fans can only hope there will be improvements over the next month. But with games against Sheffield United, Fleetwood Town and Bradford City, December is looking like a tricky month for the team to navigate.
Even more complicated by a New Years away fixture against MK Dons, who could be managed by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (I wonder whether Power could get him in as manager if he just dug a little deeper into those pockets).