Doom and gloom already set in around Swindon

Fan Nick Judd wonders whether calls for a change at the top are knee-jerk reactions to the season's slow start...

I’m 29 and I’ve already seen Swindon promoted and relegated four times – plus a demotion – as well as 16 managers and two administrations. Not surprisingly, Town finished fifth in a recent study attempting to find the most stressful club to support in the UK. Littlewoods Pools used such scientific tools as promotions/relegations, managerial sackings and off-field dramas in finding Notts County top of the pile.

If County fans are anything like us they’re a suspicious bunch worn down by years of drama on and off the field. Such perennial palava has made some Town fans so used to doom and gloom that they’re instantly resentful when anything goes wrong. For example, only winning two of seven games this season has seen a growing number call for Maurice Malpas’ head.

 Malpas: Feeling the heat just seven games in 

Malpas’ appointment in January – Chairman Andrew Fitton’s first major decision – wasn’t greeted with champagne and bunting. Townies wanted a big name or former favourite, but ended up with a dour Scot with a poor managerial record north of the border. Yet we respected Fitton’s decision. If anyone deserved the right to pick the manager it’s the man who saved us from the brink of closure. Malpas, he urged, impressed over the other candidates and could bring us Championship football within three years. Who were we to argue?

We’re now eight months in and the club has improved exponentially off the field. On it, Swindon remain consistently inconsistent. Our 3-1 home defeat against 10-man Leeds last week infuriated as many as the opening-day win against Tranmere enthralled. Much like our old boss Andy King, Malpas has polarised opinion, but Colchester United’s sacking of Geraint Williams has fuelled the fires of discontent: three weeks ago the U's thumped us at home.

Malpas could just be a victim of circumstance. After years of upheaval, Town fans are a hard bunch to please: those pleading time in favour of the Scot forget that, for many, patience has slowly been eroded.

My feeling is there is no need for change just yet. When Steve McMahon left we had no option: he was a man so despised that Town fans left in droves. Some never came back. Some of those who stayed saw King as the final straw. Though he sweated blood and tears at a difficult time in the club’s history, his old-school ways and regular radio rants infuriated many.

 McMahon: So disliked, some fans still stay away 

Me? Well, I guess I’m on a longer fuse than others. Malpas has identified our problems, namely defensive lapses and a threadbare squad; my opinion will be formed by what he does about them. What’s clear is that those venting their spleens at games aren’t helping. It doesn't help, just like it didn’t help King – during whose reign fans continually called for the return of Lou Macari. Macari, like Malpas, won just two of his first seven games. And look at what he achieved… 

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