WILL DYER's (@w2Dyer) Swindon are on the box for the second time in eight days and this time on his birthday! Here he tries to remain impartial when previewing the Robins' clash with stuttering Charlton.
Swindon v Charlton | Saturday 12:00 | Sky Sports 1
These two sides will both be disappointed with their current standing in the League One table. Charlton had lofty ambitions of potentially winning the division and rightly so with a strike force of Nicky Ajose, Josh Magennis and Lee Novak.
Those three players amassed a total of 50 goals between them for their old clubs last season; Ajose finding the back of the net an impressive 23 times in just 35 games for Swindon, their opponents on Saturday lunchtime.
The Robins finished 16th in League One last season but were still hoping for an improvement on that despite wholesale changes in the squad and an overall similar philosophy of loan recruitment in young, ball-playing footballers.
Swindon’s problems have if anything worsened though. At Eastleigh in the FA Cup last weekend their oldest starting player was Raphael Rossi Branco at just 26 years-old.
Luke Williams’ mentality of a passing game that is pleasant on the eye is all well and good when it works but when things go wrong, Swindon don’t have the old heads and the intimidating experience to dig in a grind out a result.
Consequently, the Robins find themselves in the relegation zone with 16 points after as many games. Goals have been a bit of an issue, Jonathan Obika has only managed seven this season and that’s part of the problem. Last season he notched 11 times in 32 games forming a fearsome partnership with Ajose.
That’s lead to Darnell Furlong, the QPR loanee right-back, being joint top scorer on two goals. Michael Doughty has certainly been the highlight for Town this season but he too has been absent all too often, featuring only six times in 2016/17.
Sherwood arrives in Wiltshire
The big news in Wiltshire at the moment is that Tim Sherwood has joined as Director of Football. It’s not really a surprise for the fans, but for people on the outside looking in, it certainly is. Sherwood’s last job was managing Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Sherwood links up with his old mate Lee Power, the Swindon chairman. Over the last four years he’s had an ongoing relationship with the club in loaning players and evidently has a decent understanding of the team. However, there are rightly question marks over whether his input on signings and style will have a positive impact or not.
Sherwood joining and Williams as head coach sounds like the kind of structure you’d hear of in the Premier League, not League One. Whether he has final say on picking the team remains to be seen but the Premier League winner will certainly take the spotlight off of Williams who is far better suited to the training pitch.
For the most part, things worked very well under the partnership of Williams and Mark Cooper. If Sherwood can find that balance in the management of the team, then the future is brighter for the languishing Robins.
Charlton settling under Slade
Moving on to Athletic. The Londoners have undergone a raft of managerial changes over the last three seasons. Experimenting with three different Belgian bosses and one Israeli. This summer they turned to a more traditional approach and appointed Russell Slade.
Slade has a good history of success with stints at Grimsby, Yeovil and Leyton Orient all going well however his foray into the second tier with Cardiff never really worked out.
At Charlton he’s inherited a squad that should really be around the play-off places but it’s still early days and I think most feel that in time they will reach their potential.
The betting angle
In terms of how this game will pan out, the bookmakers have been quick to write off Swindon. Sure their home form is abysmal; losing five of the last six in the league but Charlton have won just one of their seven away games thus far so hardly make a great case for their 6/5 (Bet365) favouritism.
The Addicks do have the joint second best defensive record in the league and are unbeaten in four matches but their wins have come against struggling sides; beating Chesterfield, Shrewsbury and Coventry, all at home.
Charlton have lost just three matches and are yet to concede three goals in one game, they will keep it close.
Sherwood’s arrival could inspire some of the dressing room at the Country Ground and the price on a home win (13/5 Bet365)) for one of the best home sides in the country over the last decade is tempting but Charlton rank well in the shot statistics and are a much more stable side.
A draw looks fair to me and is my best bet at a chunky 5/2 with Betfair. Considering Charlton have drawn over half of their game I think it’s a good price.
Swindon v Charlton – Draw (5/2 Betfair)