SWINDON Town’s fans will ‘make or destroy’ their youthful team in 2014/15, according to manager Mark Cooper.
Town kick off their League One campaign against Scunthorpe United at the County Ground this afternoon with little weight of expectation on their shoulders after a long and drawn out summer.
At the end of the off-season, Cooper is left with a talented but widely inexperienced group of players, most of whom have played fewer than 50 professional games during their short careers.
Of today’s likely starting XI, just one – Andy Williams – is over the age of 23, while only Williams, Nathan Thompson and Wes Foderingham have more than a single full season of Football League experience under their belts.
Therefore Cooper has stressed how important a factor the fans’ support or lack thereof could be over the course of the coming months.
He said: “They’re probably the biggest part because if we play like we do and sometimes we don’t get it right, sometimes fans can get frustrated. I get frustrated, we all get frustrated, but it’s so important they stick with the young guys because they can make such an impact on their young careers.
“They can either make them or they can destroy them. I think, slowly but surely, the fans really do understand what we’re trying to do.
“You have to try to step back and take the long-term view of ‘he might have got it wrong today but he’ll get it right next week’.”
Cooper is hoping for an intimidating atmosphere at the County Ground, saying: “The more hostile you make it for the other team, every little helps. The more they get behind us and the more they hoot and holler at the other team helps.
“I think once the season starts, that gets everyone’s minds focused. There’s one thing that the fans want, there’s one thing that brings the fans through the door and one thing that keeps the fans happy - that’s results.
“No matter how young your squad is or how much money you have or haven’t got, they want results. I’m aware of that and that’s what football management is about. You have to get results. But I want to play in a certain way to get results.
“We’re not going to change - we are going to try to play football, we’re going to try to teach the younger players, we’re going to try to have an identity and a style of play that everyone can associate Swindon Town with.”