MARK Cooper is relishing the chance to prove wrong the fans and pundits who wrote off his Swindon Town team earlier this season, as the League One campaign reaches its final straight.
Town, who a month ago seemed destined for a midtable finish, currently sit seventh in the table, four points behind Peterborough United, who occupy the final play-off place.
Cooper still ranks Swindon as “rank outsiders” for a top-six spot, with Peterborough fully in control of their own destiny, but given the criticism he faced four weeks ago - with his team winless in eight games - his team is certainly providing the positive end to the term he wanted.
“We know we’re the rank outsiders so we have to win an amount of games. I always thought, all along, that we had to win a certain amount to have any chance - a points total - and that hasn’t changed,” Cooper told the Advertiser.
“It’s nice to be written off because that gives you a chance to prove people wrong and we keep doing that.
“I’ve said before that I want to finish the season as strong as we can. I said it when we lost to Milton Keynes and the play-offs had gone, I just said we wanted a strong finish to give people optimism for next year.”
Six wins from their six remaining matches, starting at Carlisle United this weekend, would take Town to a total of 75 points - the average needed to secure sixth spot over the past 10 League One seasons.
And Cooper is keen to focus on what his team can achieve, rather than ponder over whether or not others will self-destruct along the way.
“We know we’ve got to keep winning games,” he said.
“There’s no order that we have to win them in but I think there’s a certain amount of games we have to win to have any realistic chance of getting in the play-offs.
“If you start worrying about other teams it can then become a little bit of a muddle and what we’ve certainly not done over the last four games is worry about anybody else.
We’ve just concentrated on ourselves.
“I’m not looking around. It’s simple for us - we have to win as many games as we can.
“We can’t look at anybody else because we can’t affect their results.
“We just have to win as many as we can and if we do that then we’ll see what happens.”