“IF WE’D started the other way round, struggled at the start and worked our way up to eighth everyone would be jumping up and down saying ‘what a great season’.”
Following Swindon Town’s 1-0 victory over high-flying Preston North End on Saturday, manager Mark Cooper once again suggested that, for all the doom and gloom about the County Ground in recent weeks, the Robins’ campaign has not been a bad one.
Town ended Preston’s 12-match unbeaten streak thanks to Michael Smith’s 56th-minute penalty, securing their first home win in almost two months in the process, to lift themselves to eighth in the League One table.
The play-offs maybe out of sight, although Swindon did close the gap on sixth-placed Peterborough United to seven points, but reflecting on their season as a whole Cooper was at pains to state the situation was not that bad.
He said: “If we’d have started the other way round, struggled at the start and worked our way up to eighth everyone would be jumping up and down saying ‘what a great season’.
“The way it’s transpired is the other way.I don’t know whether it’s realism but I understand.
“When you see the age of the team today, let’s be realistic.”
The average age of Swindon’s starting XI on Saturday was a little over 22, while Preston’s was closer to 26, and the three substitutes used by North End in an effort to change the game boasted almost 400 professional appearances more than the entire Town team combined.
Given those statistics, Cooper thought the home fans appreciated the nature of his side’s performance.
“If you look at the age of the team today that’s where we’re going to be next season, we’re going to be younger probably,” he said.
“We want to be energetic, fit and we want to play. If we play like that I think the fans can live with it.
“If they’d scored near the end I think the fans would have lived with the performance because we’ve played with drive and desire.
“It was brilliant.
“I know it’s difficult when you’re not playing well and balls keep going back to the goalkeeper and you want to scream and shout ‘get it forward’.
“I understand that but that’s not what the remit is.
“We have to try to play football and if we’re going to bring players through like Ben Gladwin then we have to do that.”