What will the New Year bring for STFC?

By Alfie Howlett - 23 December 2021

Sport

A monthly column from Alfie Howlett.

The New Year brings fresh hope for many, but for Swindon it brings a lucrative FA cup tie against the champions of England at SN1. That's right in the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in nine years, the Robins will welcome Pep Guardiola's formidable Manchester City side on 7 January. It's an evening that everyone at the club deserves.

From the possibility of not even having a club to the prospect of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling strutting their stuff at the County Ground, it's been quite the turn around. And with an occasion of such glamour comes a rather large pay check. It should be a brilliant day for so many reasons. And maybe just maybe, David might slay Goliath for the most famous of cup upsets.

The income from the Man City game should hugely benefit the club in the long run as well as the short term. With the January Transfer window coming up it'll give Swindon a competitive edge over their rivals, as they seek to strengthen their squad. One position in which Town must strengthen is defensively.

Currently the club has just four centre backs on the books, and with all four having picked up injuries this season a fifth would be a vital addition. When Romoney Crichlow plays in a back 3, Swindon look much more solid as proven by the five clean sheets kept with him at the heart of defence. Take the Huddersfield loan man out of the team and Swindon have just one clean sheet to their name all season.

Crichlow is key to Swindon as he is the defender who is always winning the headers - without him Swindon are vulnerable and easy to play against.

However in recent weeks I feel as if Swindon's set up is behind the leaky defence. In quite a few games this season the 3 at the back have found themselves rather isolated at times.

Against weaker opponents Town have got away with this, but against stronger sides such as Leyton Orient, Swindon were put to the sword.

I believe that the midfield offer very little defensively. With all 3 centre midfielders in the 5 across the middle all doing very similar jobs. If Swindon are to challenge this season they must start playing a combative midfielder who can break down play and protect the defence. At times we've looked really unbalanced and bringing in a player like Jordan Lyden could change this. But with this change it will mean one of our star midfielders will have to drop out. But if it benefits the team as a whole then it's got to be done.

However despite this slight moan I'm more than happy with where Swindon are. Sitting in the top half of league 2 with the 3rd round of the FA cup on the horizon it's fair to say it's been a pretty good first half of the season. The question is what will the second half bring?

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