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Dan the Fan: Promotion, take two
On Tuesday night as I was walking towards the Recreation Ground in Aldershot everything looked in place for a big promotion party.
Mark Clemmit from the Football League show was at the ground ready to interview celebrating fans and players, the champagne was on ice and Swindon had easily sold out the away end, but as we know, this wasn't any straight forward promotion party, this was a Swindon Town promotion party.
So of course it involved controversy, confusion and not forgetting a calamitous performance.
With it being such an important occasion I ‘d hoped the form we’ve been missing over the past few weeks would start to reappear again but apart from slight glimpses of football, it was an awful performance all over the pitch.
Directly after the game I kept asking why didn’t Paolo play his strongest eleven? Seeing Flint, Ferry, McEveley, Holmes and Connell on the bench just made me question Di Canio’s selection, but then came the post-match press conference.
When manager Paolo Di Canio accused his players of celebrating promotion early, and showing a lack of professionalism by going out drinking last Saturday night.
I’m not going to start pointing fingers at particular players, because like most people I don’t know what actually went on, but now knowing why Di Canio dropped certain players I back him 100% on his reasoning for the team selection.
All season long he has taken a hard line on players who don’t pull their weight, Mehdi Kerrouche had an encouraging start to his Swindon career but after his attitude took a turn for the worst he hasn’t played a game since.
So after taking such a strict line with players before he can’t change his philosophy now, that is a key part of his character, which will never change.
I now hope that after the players apologized yesterday, the whole event can now be put behind us and the club can concentrate on winning promotion against Gillingham.
Thankfully it will be in front of a packed out Priestfield Stadium this Saturday, following an agreement made between Gillingham FC and the council on Wednesday morning.
With those certain players now disciplined after their mistake last weekend Paolo Di Canio can now pick his strongest starting eleven to go and win promotion.
Which should see the return of Flint and McCormack in central defence, Jay McEveley back at left back, Ferry to partner either Risser or Smith in central midfield and Connell to replace Murray up front.
I desperately hope Di Canio doesn’t persist again with Ronan Murray partnering Paul Benson after the pair once again failed to link up or even look like at threat against Aldershot.
I don’t want to pick on Murray individually but I’m sure even he’d admit he can do a lot better and I still think he has a part to play this season, but from the bench as an impact sub if needed this Saturday.
With Town slipping up against slightly easier opponents on Tuesday night it means the stakes are even high in a game that was always going to be a tough without any talk of promotion or playoffs surrounding it.
The Gills go into the game knowing they must win to keep the pressure on Crewe and Oxford for that last playoff place, and knowing that even if they win their last three games that might not be enough.
And we all know what’s waiting for Town if we pick up the three points or even a point, a return to League One and also taking our first big step towards becoming an established Championship club once again.
Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter @danjohnson_stfc
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