MARK Cooper has spoken of his frustration at Swindon Town’s disciplinary record this season, after the Robins picked up their 100th card of the term in the weekend defeat to Carlisle United.
Town have racked up 94 yellows and six reds over the course of the campaign, with six players receiving suspensions for cumulative bookings or dismissals – of which some, most notably Alex Pritchard, have picked up multiple bans.
For Cooper, those statistics are simply “not good enough”. While he is pleased his players appear to have cleaned up their act a little in recent weeks – with 36 bookings or sending-offs in 20 games since the turn of the year compared to 64 in 30 matches up until the end of 2013 – overall he has been disappointed.
He told the Advertiser: “It’s not been good enough. We’ve had too many silly sending-offs in my opinion. We’ve had one or two many cards for dissent, probably.
“You just keep fining them. If they get booked for dissent they get a nasty fine, if they get booked for violent conduct or sent off for violent conduct they get a nasty fine.”
Pritchard has been suspended for six games this season, having racked up five and then 10 yellow cards followed by a red for violent conduct at Ashton Gate, and Cooper joked: “Pritch is still on direct debit with his fines.
“He will certainly have to learn, won’t he, when he goes back to Tottenham or wherever he ends up next year. He knows he’s missed too many games through suspension.
“It’s something which, from his own, personal point of view, he has to sort out but overall they’re starting to get better.”
Cooper admitted to suffering from similar indiscipline during the early stages of his own career.
When asked how he learnt to adjust his game, he said: “I think you realise that you end up not playing and then you have to fight to get your place back. Somewhere along the line you think ‘I better calm down here because if I get suspended I’ve got a fight on to get my place back’.”