Stringent Swindon worlds away from cash-splashing Spurs

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Fan Nick Judd considers Spurs' managerial merry-go-round a stark reminder of the differences between the haves and have-nots... 

Saturday proved once again just how much of a chasm exists between Swindon Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

This story starts in 1994, three years after Swindon had been promoted, relegated and re-instated – without kicking a ball – following irregular payments made to players. Spurs are in the dock facing similar allegations, but after an appeal Spurs are reinstated both with the six points that had served as ‘punishment’ and their place in the FA Cup.

And you wonder why lower league fans have an inferiority complex with the big boys; one rule for one etc etc.

Then, this weekend, just hours after Swindon had secured a second win in four days – a huge turnaround in fortunes for under-fire manager Maurice Malpas – Spurs sack their second boss in a year.

Granted, Harry Redknapp’s arrival coincided with Tottenham’s first win of the season, but it comes at a huge cost when you combine the compensation paid to Martin Jol, Juande Ramos and Portsmouth. They’re lucky they can afford to be so frivolous; our AGM on Saturday revealed we’re in no position to be sacking anyone.

Harry arrives at the Lane, earning Portsmouth a cool £5m 

Yet Swindon’s chairman must be applauded for showing prudence; it would have been easy for him to listen to the growing discontent towards Swindon’s manager and replace him.

Those calling for the Scot’s head – myself included – were swelling by the week after a dismal run of form that saw us teetering above the relegation zone. Many predicted last week’s home double header would be Malpas’ last games at the helm.

A win on Tuesday against Northampton – a good performance despite the odd defensive wobble against a team unbeaten in five – polarised opinion. ‘We’ll still lose to Oldham,’ said some. We didn’t. Instead we outplayed, outfought and outthought a team in the top five and in doing so, kept our first clean sheet in 16 games.

If Malpas had ‘lost the dressing room’ our players didn’t show it. Come the final whistle two lads sank to their knees, another lay on his back in sheer exhaustion.

Goalscorer Jack Smith has a rest after helping see off Oldham

The side had sweated blood and tears for the cause and the fans knew it, not least assistant manager Dave Byrne’s son – sat in front of me – who took great delight in pointing at ‘dad’ on the bench and telling those around him he was related.

A third win in the space of seven days would have Town fans dreaming of Wembley (in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy), but ensuing league points against Scunthorpe (top) and Leicester (third) will prove trickier.

Regardless of those results, Malpas has earned the right to be given more time. His decision making has been brave – reinstating Michael Pook, moving Michael Timlin to left back, persisting with Hasney Aljofree and dropping Jerel Ifil – but spot on.

Given the vitriol he and his management team have received in recent weeks, Byrne’s son will tell you all about that, I take my hat off to our leaders on and off the pitch. Fair play, and keep it up!

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