FORMER Swindon Town manager Richie Wellens admits a poor pre-season probably cost the club a successful campaign, but said he felt the squad was more than capable of staying up when he left.

Town’s League Two-winning boss resigned in November 2020 to join Salford City but only lasted a little over four months before being sacked due to a poor run of results and a reluctance to change tactics.

The 41-year-old has been enjoying his time off since though and travelled down to the County Ground last weekend to watch Swindon’s final home game and play in the Loathed Strangers charity shield.

After subtly mentioning he netted a tidy side-foot volley in the game which helped to raise over £6000 for the Prospect Hospice, Wellens reflected on the early part of this season at Swindon.

He said: “I wouldn’t want to comment on the season after I left, but I think the biggest disappointment – which was there for everyone to see – was pre-season.

“That probably cost us, although I still think the squad was good enough to be nowhere near the relegation zone.

“I think a big part of that was that the supporters were missing, the difference they can make to a football club is huge.

“As far as I’m concerned, this season will be null and void. The last game I managed with supporters was Forest Green at home, and the stands were full, it was a great atmosphere, so to play in front of no supporters was really disappointing.

“The only thing I would take away from this season would be the fact I won a trophy at Wembley. Whether it’s full or not, it’s obviously a very special venue.”

Rumours have been circling among Town fans that Wellens would consider coming back to the County Ground in the future, but the man himself refused to be drawn on speculation.

Wellens did mention he had been approached for a couple of different caretaker roles but turned them down due to a lack of supporters in grounds killing his love for the game.

He said: “When I left (Salford) around March-time, I wasn’t even looking for another job.

“I’ve had a couple of little things were clubs have wanted me to go in until the end of the season, but I didn’t really feel that I needed to go back in at that point.

“And also, if you go back in now there are still no supporters, and that’s not really my thing.

“Things will be back to normal for the first game of next season, I would imagine, so after this weekend when the season ends for a lot of teams I will be trying to get a job.”