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Swindon relying on football's fire-fighter

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Paul Fletcher | 21:37 UK time, Saturday, 12 March 2011

The County Ground

Feargal Sharkey once claimed that a good heart these days is hard to find, but Swindon are hoping that one has arrived at the County Ground as they battle against relegation to League Two.

The Wiltshire club reached the League One play-off final last season but this campaign has been one of disappointment and despair, and Town have turned to Paul Hart to ensure it does not end in disaster.

The 57-year-old readily admits that he was not doing all that much before the call came, asking him to do for the Robins what he had previously done at Portsmouth in the Premier League in 2009 and Crystal Palace in the Championship last season.

Hart had been taking in a few football games and improving his forehand on the tennis court, but he leapt at the chance to return to management for the first time since his triumphant farewell with the Eagles.

The likeable Lancastrian had taken over at the financially-troubled London club on 2 March 2010 and kept them in English football's second tier after a dramatic and extremely tense final-day draw at Sheffield Wednesday, who were relegated instead.

Almost exactly one year after his appointment at Selhurst Park, Hart was unveiled as successor to Danny Wilson at the County Ground. The new boss had 13 games to haul the Robins out of the relegation zone and chairman Andrew Fitton had made it very clear that he had been chosen because of his proven track record of beating the drop.

But what exactly is it that makes Hart suited to the pressure of battling relegation?

"I have learnt that there are some basics," Hart told me. "It sounds simple but if you can make sure players focus on their strengths you are halfway to getting over a lot of
problems.

Paul Hart kept Crystal Palace in the Championship last season with a final-day draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

Hart understands the pressure of a battle against relegation. Photo: Getty Images

"We certainly do not talk about relegation every day and instead focus on what we want to do in the next match, that helps direct a player's thinking towards what is important."

Hart comes across as very level-headed and controlled as he discusses Swindon's predicament - qualities that must surely help to relax the players. He took over with Swindon three points adrift of safety, and in his three games in charge he has seen the club slump to the bottom of the table and climb back up to 22nd despite so far failing to win a game.

"There are a lot of strange results at this time of the season and plenty of twists and turns, with teams dropping into and moving back out of the bottom four all the time," he added.

"We have got to make sure that we remain consistent and remember that it is where we are at the final whistle on 7 May that matters."

His one signing so far is striker Calvin Andrew, who has joined on loan from Crystal Palace.

Andrew was a member of the Palace squad that beat the drop last season and, after making his debut in Saturday's 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge, he said: "The manager's enthusiasm and detailed planning is what allows his teams to get out of situations like this.

"Last season at Palace he kept everybody's heads in the right place, that was the key thing, making sure that we took it game by game."

Hart talks fondly about his 12-week spell in charge of Palace. He remembers listening to the squad singing a Proclaimers track in the dressing room before the crunch game at Hillsborough and thinking at that moment that his team would survive. Hart reckons that even though there was incredible tension inside the sold-out Hillsborough he did not feel stressed at all.

There was undoubtedly tension inside the County Ground on Saturday as Swindon's winless streak was extended to 14 games. The draw meant that Town have picked up just two points under Hart from three crunch games against a trio of relegation rivals in the space of eight days.

It has been an extremely testing start for Hart and assistant Ian McParland - and the edgy and nervous atmosphere suggested that a season of struggle has eroded the confidence in the team among many of Swindon's supporters.

As I wandered around the ground an hour before kick-off I heard one young fan ask his grandfather if he thought Swindon would avoid the drop. "There is more chance of me winning the lottery," was the reply.

Certainly at first glance the facts are not particularly encouraging. Until Mike Grella's excellent lobbed finish put the Robins ahead on Saturday they had not taken the lead in a fixture since the 4-2 win over Charlton on 3 January - more than 1,200 minutes of football. Last season's prolific strike duo of Billy Paynter and Charlie Austin have both left the club and finding the net has been a major problem. Swindon have not scored in eight of their previous 14 fixtures. In that period they have found the net more than once in just one game.

Charlie Austin (second left) in action for Swindon Town.

Austin (second left) left in January and remains the club's top scorer. Photo: Getty Images

Yet against the Daggers I thought there was plenty to encourage Hart and the club's supporters. The 4-3-3 formation that Hart favours worked well, with combative new recruit Andrew in the middle of a front three alongside Grella and Matt Ritchie.

Hart's first two games were a goalless draw against Walsall followed by a 1-0 defeat at Plymouth, but against the Daggers his side at least showed a little more cutting edge and were unfortunate to encounter veteran keeper Tony Roberts in such excellent form. And as it turned out, the draw wasn't perhaps too bad a result for either team as none of the bottom seven sides managed to win, with Bristol Rovers, Plymouth and Tranmere losing.

"I thought the players looked very poised and confident and during the next week I will be stressing to them what they have done well," added Hart. "They were a little bit down when I took over but they soon sparked into life."

I'm told that the football had become increasingly direct and error-strewn under Wilson, with Town taking just three points from his last 11 games. Wilson did a commendable job over his near two-and-a-half years in charge but a sense of panic had started to take hold in the squad in the weeks before his resignation.

Hart seems to have restored a sense of calm and is working hard to instil patience in possession. You could see that on Saturday as Town stroked the ball across their backline as they probed for openings.

The Town boss, who had a five-game spell in charge of QPR last season before resigning in mysterious circumstances, is focusing purely on the remaining 10 games, but he is keen to extend his stay at the club.

"The last few years have been hard in many ways with the stresses of fighting relegation," he said. "But before I finish I would like to help someone build a club in the proper way."

At one point in his career Hart had a reputation for developing young players. This was forged during lengthy spells at Leeds United and Nottingham Forest. Players such as Jonathan Woodgate, Harry Kewell, Michael Dawson and Jermaine Jenas all owe Hart a debt of gratitude for his role in their development.

More by accident than design, Hart has become known as a football fire-fighter; a steady and reliable presence who is able to help those in trouble.

Whether he gets the chance to prolong that at Swindon will depend on what happens during the next eight weeks, but with consecutive away fixtures against promotion-chasing Huddersfield Town and Brighton next up it is definitely not going to be easy.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog, however I was disappointed not to read more about Dagenham - they're in quite a bit of form at the moment and it will be on of THE stories of the Football League this season if they stay up. John Still's done a spectacular job on a shoestring.

    Also, nice to read a BBC blogger who understands the concept of paragraphs and not having them just being one sentence - a much nicer and easier read! :)

  • Comment number 2.

    It's Billy, not Andy Paynter :P
    Otherwise a good article and an interesting read on a view from outside. After today I feel a little bit more optimistic, despite the fact we drew.

  • Comment number 3.

    Isn't it Billy Paynter? He's struggled to find any sort of form at Leeds and I don't think Austin had got off to a brilliant start at Ipswich.

    Hart's a good manager but must have a bit of a sadistic streak with the jobs he agrees to. I'd like to see him have another go at managing for longer than the tail-end of the season, so hopefully Swindon will keep him on regardless of which division they are in next season

  • Comment number 4.

    Why is my comment on here getting moderated yet earlier I posted straight away?

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh dear. Mistake noticed and rectified. They say the key is to learn from your mistakes but I must have a blind spot when it comes to Paynter as I have called him Andy before.

    Glass Frazzle - you are quite right, neither Austin nor Paynter has exactly set the world alight since leaving Swindon. Austin actually joined Burnley and is apparently out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Paynter has spent most of the season warming the bench at Leeds, although he finally scored in the league at rock-bottom Preston last week.

    completeuttermadness - sorry you feel that way. This blog is about Hart and Swindon, not the the Daggers. However, there is no doubt that John Still is doing a cracking job with the Essex club, who work on a very small budget. I was sat close to the local commentary teams on Saturday. The co-commentator for BBC Radio London was actually on the Daggers coaching staff and ran up to the commentary box before kick-off having put veteran keeper Tony Roberts through his paces. Roberts, incidentally, had a fine game.

    Saturday's game was described as must win for Swindon, even by Hart in his matchday programme notes. Strangely, with other results going their way, it didn't feel that way afterwards.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a Dagger at the game, Swindon were pretty decent and I can't see them going down, although with only 10 games to go it's look precarious.
    With Grella, Andrew and Ritchie, they have some real attacking threat now and that could have been the difference yesterday. Us Daggers don't have a striker of note and we can't bring in players like Grella and Andrew. I'd say if Swindon sured up their defence, they'd be a good team and would be no where near the drop.

    I can't really wish them well as if they stayed up it could be at our expense but the ingredients are there for a decent L1 team.

    P.s. The Swindon fans need to get behind their team....it was like a morgue at times yesterday!

  • Comment number 7.

    Good honest blog Paul. This season has been so painful after last season - who can forget beating Leeds home and away with such style - Paul Hart is as good as anyone in this position. I have been impressed by his positivity despite the obvious issues.

    Cheese and Biscuits, you are correct in saying that we have a decent set of players who SHOULD do the business, we have been saying this all season. Also if you think it was like a morgue at times yesterday, I felt that the support was louder and more constant than in the last 3 months!!

    Good luck to the Daggers.........but ofcourse not at our expense!

  • Comment number 8.

    Sorry, not sure why I thought he'd joined Ipswich....

  • Comment number 9.

    Paul Hart is a dreadful manager. Tried his hardest to get Qpr relegated last season. Horrible defensive tatics (8 defenders for home matches) and point blank refusal to play Akos Buzsaky and Adel Taarabt in his side didn't sit well with the fans.

    Thank god, he and then Mick Harford got the boot when they did, a proper manager like Neil Warnock came in and look where we are now.

    Good luck to Swindon, but I really dont see Phart as some kind of miracle worker. Sorry.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think Swindon are doomed. They concede almost every game, can't win and have possibly the worst manager in the football league. Surely they could have seen if Roy Keane, Gary Neville or Alan Curbishley fancied a couple months work

  • Comment number 11.

    Paul you would find you got more comments if your blog was reactively moderated

  • Comment number 12.

    Long standing Swindon fan here. I was very disappointed when Danny Wilson resigned, he should of at least seen the season out and has proved to be one of our best managers in a long time given our run to the play-off final last year. I'm even more disappointed by the appointment of Paul Hart who is still living off being a good assistant manager at Portsmouth when they weren't in as much financial trouble as they have been. What we don't need is a journeyman who has a proven track record at failure. What happens if we stay up this season? Do we really expect Hart to take us up the table and back into play-off/promotion contention? I think not.

  • Comment number 13.

    i don't like the mangerial technique of hart. He doesn't ever seem to inspire confidence and that i think is reflected in his teams

    http://thefullcircleblog.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 14.

    Pet Shop Boys_Forever - an interesting thought. Why do you say that? I think it is just BBC policy.

    I have to say that the atmosphere in the stands and generally frustrated mood of many of the supporters on Saturday suggested they thought their team was doomed. However, Hart and his players seemed to genuinely believe they will get out of trouble. I listened to Hart, Paul Caddis, Phil Smith and Calvin Andrew afterwards and I picked up a genuine confidence and belief about them.

    Andrew, of course, has not been at the club long at all. He seemed pretty stunned by the club's position.

    Quite a few Swindon fans on here seem to fear the worst.

    Who do people think will end up comprising the bottom four?

  • Comment number 15.

    Great Read Paul,

    And to reply to your question of who do you think will be in the bottom 4 I dont think honestly anyone knows. It is so tight down there that a rich vein of form like Plymouth had recently can make you look in a lot healthier postion.

    As a Swindon fan its very frustration to see us struggle so much especially after last season. Last season we were so comfortable on the ball and had such good attacking flair and were solid at the back with Greer and Cuthbert.

    As to the comments that we look more assured with Hart that we were patient on the ball at the back, That isn't something new from Hart. Wilson wanted a succesful team but he wanted to play football the way football should be played on the floor and being patient waiting for the chances to open up a team with quick, slick passing football. The problem about playing this style when you are low on confidence it doesn't flow with the same energy, Because of this, this season we've been playing at the back for the majority of the games I've seen.

    We all had high expectations here this season, and sadly things have obviously not worked. As a youngen Wilson is honestly the best manager I can remember at the County Ground and was gutted when he "resigned", But Hart is here now and no one can argue with his CV of getting clubs away from the relegation zone and either way relegated or survival, I would like to see Hart stay on and see him given a chance seeing his pedegree with younger players it could really help our young squad.

  • Comment number 16.

    IMO the worst manager in the history of Portsmouth FC, and i feel very sorry for the fans of Swindon FC. you deserve so much more than Hart.
    OK he saved Pompey from relegation, but christ at the time we had the likes of James, Johnson, Distin, Campbell, Kranjcar and Crouch, any manager should have kept us up, but P.Hart was so negative in his approach and so arrogant to boot, we also had the Greek Gekis in our squad, one of Europe's proven goalscorers and he refused to play him, except for 35 secs in added time.
    Don't be surprised to find him replacing your 2 best influential midfielders in a game when you are winning and dominating a game, and bringing on more defenders, therefore relinquishing the initiative.
    To the Swindon fans I hope I am wrong, however should you survive and P.Hart becomes manager in the long-term, you can be sure that next season he will be sacked by mid November, and also be aware that he signs players that his son,an agent,manages.

  • Comment number 17.

    No manager, not even the likes of Ferguson Snr and Wenger, have a monopoly on the ability to achieve success. Paul Hart does as well as anyone else, given the resources at hand. Sometimes, with a certain group of players, his techniques will succeed overall, and sometimes, with another group of players, who can't or won't respond to him, his methods will fail. He is unable to spend money to get Swindon out of their problems, and after all, it was the need for money which saw the club spiral into its present problems, by selling their match winners. History has carved out a reputation for Paul Hart that he rescues clubs from relegation, and then it's "thanks, but no thanks". Football needs rescuers and achievers. Sometimes the rescuer is required when the achiever has pushed off to new horizons. Paul Hart will never win anything, but I've no doubt he'll save a few more clubs from failing.

  • Comment number 18.

    Very nice read, as a Town fan currently living away from Swindon, had a chat to the rest of my family who seemed to agree with the majority of what you had to say, we were very unlucky, probally the better team and if the D&G keeper hadnt been in such good form we may of actually got 3 points.

    But these points have been coming up so many times this season, so many games we have played well but have been "unlucky" and its starting to get very frustrating, on paper we have a very talented squad, Douglas player of the year last year, Prutton with premiership expierence, Ritchie has been in good form and played a few games for pompey, Caddis Scotland under 21 captain, but with all this talent we still struggle. The only thing i think it can be is a mental problem, confidence is so low from the first game of the season, if i remember correctly we lost 4 or 5 games in our first 10 games and sat bottom of the league then, not the best building blocks for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Cannot help thinking that a few people are judging Paul Hart a touch harshly as a coach/manager. His start at Swindon has been disappointing in terms of results but if they can find the goals to finish some of their approach work, then I think they have a decent chance.

  • Comment number 20.

    Plymouth, Swindon, Dag & Red and Bristol Rovers will go down.

    As much as I love Peter Reid, I just can't see them staying up. In a way I'm glad as their fans think they are a big club and should be in the Premier League

  • Comment number 21.

    Nice blog. You seem to have an empathy with our current plight despite the fact that you're not a Town supporter.

    I thought the appointment of Hart was quite shrewd at this stage of the season but I'm not sure I like the sound of the negative comments concerning his ongoing cautious style of play. We're in a desperate situation but gung-ho Paul Hart ain't.

    I must say the last three games really needed a yield of seven points minimum and we've ended up with just two but, amazingly, our position hasn't become that much worse. Maybe our passing style will bring rewards against the high-flying footballing teams of Huddersfield and Brighton. Here's hoping.

    By the way, I just can't bring myself to predict the bottom four. I don't like what the voices in my head are telling me.

  • Comment number 22.

    Cut him some slack, he's never had a readl chance at a team that wasn't in crisis. Apart from QPR. He does like complaining though. At portsmouth after every game he was blaming something. Just a broken record after a while as they were losing nearly every week.

  • Comment number 23.

    Paul Hart is a nice guy, but unfortunately he just isn't cut out to be a manager.

    He's a great youth team coach, but as a manager he has many glaring flaws.

    He doesn't change his tactics. His one successful season at Forest saw them playing some scintillating football using his diamond formation, but once teams work out how to play against his tactics, he will not change them, leading to the inevitable winless run that will lead to his dismissal.

    He also is very reluctant to use substitutes anytime before the 89th minute !

    Sadly, he is another one of those lower league managers who keeps getting hired despite ultimately failing at just about all the clubs that he has managed.

    As mean as it sounds, as soon as I heard he had become Swindon manager, I went to put some money on them to be relegated.

  • Comment number 24.

    Just 3 things to add:

    14 games and counting.

    If Hart is the answer then im mystified as to the question.

    We are going down theres no doubt lets hope he can take us down with the dignity of at least being above a team docked 10pts!

  • Comment number 25.

    Never liked him. I remember watching Portsmouth and hearing Hart shouting an instruction at every player that had the ball. It was like he was playing a computer game where he had full control of every player eg at the left back - pass it down the wing, to the left midfielder - cross the ball. Don't you just hate it when your manager tells you every single move that he want you to do.

    He's also the type of manager that shouts at players when they make a mistake even though they know they've made the mistake. What's the point.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think the bottom four to go down are:-
    Yeovil
    Swindon
    Plymouth
    Bristol Rovers

  • Comment number 27.

    18. At 3:49pm on 13 Mar 2011, Joe Collett wrote:
    Very nice read, as a Town fan currently living away from Swindon, had a chat to the rest of my family who seemed to agree with the majority of what you had to say, we were very unlucky, probally the better team and if the D&G keeper hadnt been in such good form we may of actually got 3 points.

    -----------
    If you can't beat a Dolce and Gabbana team then you are screwed!

  • Comment number 28.

    As a fan of the MK Dons, I find it hard to believe the change in Swindon from last season. Last term they were aggressive, high-pressure and dangerous on the break. Personally, I hope that they stay up, they're a good side and should be able to bounce back from the loss of Austin and Paynter if they can find a goalscorer in the summer.

  • Comment number 29.

    Joe Collett @ 18.

    You'll find that grammatically your comment should read:-
    ". . . . we may HAVE actually got 3 points",
    and not
    ". . . . we may OF actually got 3 points."

  • Comment number 30.

    Paul, in your last comment you said you cannot help but feel we are judging Paul Hart a tad harshly. What basis is there to think otherwise? I appreciate you're not a Swindon fan but these are worrying times for us especially considering what happened last season.

  • Comment number 31.

    29. At 2:03pm on 14 Mar 2011, JohnnyEnglish wrote:

    Joe Collett @ 18.

    You'll find that grammatically your comment should read:-
    ". . . . we may HAVE actually got 3 points",
    and not
    ". . . . we may OF actually got 3 points."

    --------------------------------------

    Sitting in the stands at Swindon I can honestly tell you that being grammatically correct is the last thing us Swindon fans care about or any football fans for that matter. Go play somewhere else ;)

  • Comment number 32.

    Hart did an excellent job as manager of Forest. Things went wrong when the Board sold our best players & hoped a young squad could replace them without spending any £££. He brought on loads of excellent young players & was our best manager by a long way between Clough & Billy Davies

  • Comment number 33.

    @32

    Frank Clark did brilliantly between 1993-1996. The 94/95 side that finished right up there was brilliant.

    The sale of Collymore was out of his hands and you'll never know if he'd have kept forest up in 1997 and built on the side they already had.

    Sure he did sign Andrea Silenzi, but he also brought in Brian Roy and had players such as Stone, Woan and Gemmill playing out of their skin.

    It was the desperation of 1998/1999 back in the Premier League that have left Forest where they shouldn't be really, which is a club that has not been in the PL for a long time.

  • Comment number 34.

    Agree with 33. I also liked Clark's Forest side and I thought it was an excellent team to watch. Selling Collymore robbed them of their cutting edge though.

  • Comment number 35.

    Interesting as ever.
    I agree with #25 and his comment regarding manager's attempting to completely dictate the play, from the touchline. I believe this to be the curse of 'manufactured mangers' such as Big Sam, Tony Pulis and perhaps Colin Hart. Football men who obtain top-qualifications, identify an effective approach and then play the percentages. Successful to a point but it restricts creative players and limits entertaining football, which most fans pay to see.
    Good luck to Swindon, I remember their Blackpool approach to top-flight footy years ago.
    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 36.

    32. At 2:37pm on 14 Mar 2011, lacplesis37 wrote:
    Hart did an excellent job as manager of Forest. Things went wrong when the Board sold our best players & hoped a young squad could replace them without spending any £££. He brought on loads of excellent young players & was our best manager by a long way between Clough & Billy Davies
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    He did alright for the first two seasons, partly because the Forest team consisted of many players who had stepped up from academy that he had worked with while he was youth team coach, such as Dawson, Prutton, Reid and Williams.

    The second season that he was in charge culminated in Forest's great run to the play-offs, but after that, he was found out to be a manager who was pretty limited and inflexible.

    Of course, Forest sold many of their best players, which hindered Hart's job, but even allowing for that, Forest still had a pretty decent team at that level, yet continually got found out by ''lesser'' teams because of Hart's inability to adapt his tactics.


    Also, as Tomefccam correctly points out, Frank Clark was a good manager who suffered from taking over from a legendary and illustrious manager.

    His job at Forest, which included a 3rd place in the PL and being the last English team left in Europe in 1995, beating Bayern Munich away, was absolutely first class.

    It's only because he was Cloughy's immediate successor that made his achievements undervalued at the time.


    As for Hart, like I say, he's an excellent youth team coach, but not a very good first team manager.

  • Comment number 37.

    Paul Hart is an appalling manager and how he keeps landing jobs in the the FL is completely beyond me. He took Rushden & Diamonds into the relegation zone in the Conference within a few months after becoming our manager in the summer of 2006, then demanded a big pay off from a cash strapped club when the situation got so dire that he just had to go. Swindon fans, be very worried.

  • Comment number 38.

    As a Swindon fan I fear the worse but just hope for a miracle!

    This is not who I necessary think will go down but who I would like to see go down.

    Tranmere
    Dagenham
    Walsall
    Plymouth

    Hopefully Swindon, Rovers and Yeovil will survive the drop. I dont really want to see Argyle go down either but I cant see any other side from outside the Westcountry going down. Notts County will be safe with ease, Wednesday won't go down and teams from Rochdale upwards have enough points already barring a huge collapse

  • Comment number 39.

    38. At 8:01pm on 14 Mar 2011, swjoduk wrote:
    As a Swindon fan I fear the worse but just hope for a miracle!

    This is not who I necessary think will go down but who I would like to see go down.

    Tranmere
    Dagenham
    Walsall
    Plymouth

    -----------
    Charming!!!!

    I think the bottom 4 will be (using my red and blue tinted specs of course):

    Plymouth - too much to ask for them to stay up and the only team I hope go down. My feelings on administration are clear, it's cheating in my eyes.
    Bristol Rovers - Again, just not enough quality to survive
    Walsall - The worst team I have seen this year (we weren't much better though to be fair)
    Swindon - Played too many games and have 3 tough away games coming up. A decent side but left it a little too late.

    Yeovil and us to escape by the skin of our teeth!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Fletch,
    Your blogs are first class, the best writing on the BBC site as 606 spirals into demise.
    Much softer spot here for Swindon, fond memories of Hunt and Woodruff, Summerbee and Rogers, etc., than for Paul Hart's tenure at Pompey, though we'll likely never know to what extent dysfunctional ownership hamstrung him there.
    One thought about Hart though, it would be interesting to know what he sees as his forte: Development of players? Or management??

  • Comment number 41.

    Good luck Harty!

    I'm a Forest fan and I've still never gotten over what happened to him at the City Ground. Shame on the Chairman for sacking him after selling the key players in the squad that almost put us back in the Premiership, and then pushing him out of the door when we were staring relegation in the face.

    He's a fantatstic manager who knows how to get the best out of his players, and if he hadn't had a managerial career blighted by working for chairmen that know nothing about the game, he'd have been consistently managing a Premier League club for the last 10 years.

    If anyone can get Swindon out of this, Harty can.

  • Comment number 42.

    Pual Hart. A very uninspiring man. A nice chap maybe, but hardly likely to stir his players to much of a leval. I always thought Pmpey was a job far too big for him and so it proved.

  • Comment number 43.

    How has Paul Hart managed to get a piece written about him here?!

    He just beats Glen Roeder in the 'most mind-numbingly boring manager to listen to in an interview' award.

    And a poor manager to boot.

  • Comment number 44.

    Fletch, I have to agree with kwiniaskagolfer and say your blogs are excellent, the only ones on this site I continually read. I think the Football League is the 'real' English League, the Premier League has become too much of a rich foreigners' playground in recent years. Norwich City's foray into League One last season has given me a greater interest in the division, and I must admit to being very surprised at Swindon's poor form this season despite the sales of Paynter and Austin. I have to say I don't think Paul Hart is the answer, I hope for his and Swindon's sake he proves me wrong. I think the League One relegation places will stay as they are, the teams above have games in hand which could be crucial at the time of the season where teams at the bottom start picking up unexpected points. Keep up the good work Mr. Fletcher!

  • Comment number 45.

    I think the bottom 4 will be
    Yeovil
    Bristol Rovers
    Swindon
    Plymouth

 

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