DO YOU remember how you treated your toys when you were a child?

Each Christmas came along and you’d be bored of your presents from the previous year; they weren’t cool enough or they didn’t have as many little quirks as your best mate’s.

As soon as you had a sniff of the latest Action Man or Lego or whatever it was that put a smile back on your face you’d throw your old gadgets to the back of the cupboard where they’d sit and rust and gather dust for all eternity.

In many ways, it seems Roman Abramovich has all the characteristics of an eight-year-old, only with £8.4billion pocket money.

This week he sacked his manager, the man who brought him the only trophy he really wanted to win just six short months previously. Oh, Roberto Di Matteo also won him an FA Cup. And his team are third in the top flight, just four points off the top.

But Abramovich is the Premier League’s Veruca Salt. If it’s not the best at any given time, regardless of results and regardless of recent success, then it simply cannot do. What Roman wants, Roman gets.

Honestly, his involvement in footballing affairs at the Blues has been nothing short of shameful from the moment he walked into Stamford Bridge and started throwing around his dollars as if it were Monopoly money.

Sure, he’s bought his way to glory, but at what cost to the moral fibres of the game?

Because of his spending the Premier League transfer market operates at ludicrously inflated prices, which reverberate down the lower leagues.

Because of his transfer policy, the likes of Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres have been able to hold sway in dressing room affairs.

Because of his ego and deluded sense of grandeur, good managers have lost their jobs for no apparent reason – and that precedent has been followed across the Football League.

Football might have strayed off the moral path some years before Abramovich arrived in England, but his influence has been the little horned man on the game’s shoulder encouraging it to go that one step further time and again.


MAKE the most of this afternoon, folks, because it’s going to get eerily quiet around the County Ground for a fortnight.

After the trip to Notts County today Swindon Town haven’t got a competitive match in two weeks. Two whole weeks.

A footballing chasm in the heart of Wiltshire. We’re not used to this kind of black hole under Paolo Di Canio’s reign.

There’ll be no embargo for the manager to taunt himself with, no online investigations into 1-0 home defeats or lavish praise for magic away from the County Ground.

Analogy and anger will fall silent, without ammunition guns don’t fire. For everyone’s sake, let’s shift the attention away from Di Canio for a short period. Let’s move the focus onto someone else.

Let’s concentrate on the biggest game Town have during that two-week spell. Let’s think about the kids, because they’re alright don’t you know.

Paul Bodin’s youth team host Liverpool at the County Ground on Tuesday, December 4 in the third round of the FA Youth Cup.

They’ve reached that stage with ease thanks to consecutive 6-1 victories over Sholing and Cirencester. Here’s a sensationalist statement for you: “These guys are the future”.

They may not be the future of this club in particular – that will depend on their development as individuals and the opinion of whoever is in charge of first-team affairs – but they represent the next generation of footballers in this country.

It’s only a fiver to go and see them play, and that is superb value for money.

Youngsters like Alex Ferguson, Jake Johns, Josh Helm, Connor Waldron and Mark Francis have real talent – we are lucky to have them at our club and they deserve a small dollop of recognition in a world where they are generally overlooked. Some say the spotlight can harm a young player in his formative years.

I say where there’s hard work being put in and rewards being reaped we shouldn’t just be spotlighting the success; we should be singing about it. Go and have a look for yourself. You tell me whether it’s worth a verse or two.