With Gavin Gunning back in interim charge of Swindon Town until the end of the season, what can fans expect stylistically from the Irishman?

Gunning took charge of three games last season, victories over Grimsby Town and Crawley Town as well as a draw against Gillingham, with each game packed with action and goals.

The 32-year-old has already said that he intends to change the side’s formation, moving away from Michael Flynn’s preferred 3412. Last season Gunning used the 4231 twice in January and then played a 442 diamond in May. However, regardless of how they looked on paper, all three sides operated as a 316 when Swindon were in possession.

Swindon Advertiser: The average positions for Gunning's three gamesThe average positions for Gunning's three games (Image: Sofascore)

Against Gillingham, when Town were chasing a two-goal deficit, Ellis Iandolo dropped deeper as a third defender, with Marcel Lavinier and Remeao Hutton pushing higher. The way this shape was achieved varied between the three different starting 11s, with sometimes the left winger providing width with the left-back staying deep and sometimes the full-back pushed up and one of the midfielders dropped in.

The basic structure is reminiscent of Fernando Diniz’s Fluminense and Henrik Rydstrom’s Malmo and their “relationism” style. With just two staying wide, Town looked to move their players close together to allow for quick passing through the middle. In this still of the game against Grimsby, the team is practically within the width of the D. This helped Swindon attack better in these three games than in any under Scott Lindsey and Jody Morris for two main reasons.

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon attacking against GrimsbySwindon attacking against Grimsby (Image: iFollow, Swindon Town)

The first was that passes were always available. The front three kept combining as they drifted around and found openings for each other. Like the sides of Diniz and Rydstrom, there was more freedom afforded to the players as they could move around as they chose and confuse the defenders.

Gunning was looking to occupy the opposition's defensive line by keeping at least one forward on the shoulder at all times, but the narrow front three would alternate who went short and who went deep. This is likely to suit new signing Paul Glatzel, who Flynn described as a “nine-and-a-half” due to his ability to link play and find space in front of a defence and also run in behind.

The second was that because of the play in the middle, teams were defending narrowly against Swindon and thus more space was created for Hutton and the various players asked to play on the left.

Swindon Advertiser: Blake-Tracy plays a big switch ball from the backBlake-Tracy plays a big switch ball from the back (Image: iFollow, Swindon Town)

Swindon Advertiser: Hutton receives the ball before looking to crossHutton receives the ball before looking to cross (Image: iFollow, Swindon Town)

Like in this example that led to Jonny Williams’ early goal against Gillingham, Swindon would frequently look to play quick switches that would open up the space out wide and because the other players were remaining narrow, there were more options in the middle for crosses.

This type of play also led to Lavinier’s goal against Grimsby as when Hutton gets the ball on the right, Lavinier is not being marked out on the left, enabling him to ghost in undetected and volley home.

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon spring a quick counter-attackSwindon spring a quick counter-attack (Image: iFollow, Swindon Town)

Swindon were equally as aggressive with how they looked to play without the ball. A consistent theme was that the front three all remained pushed up on the defenders. In this screenshot, Swindon turned the ball over on the edge of their own area and were instantly ready to counter.

In transition, Gunning was looking to play vertically very quickly and leaving three forwards up against the opposition’s defenders enabled easy options straight away.

This would look to unlock the direct runners into space that Swindon had. Much like the switches out to the wings, Swindon were looking to move the ball quickly into the space that their in-and-out-of-possession structures created.