Community Football

Swindon Town Season 1 Preview

It’s time to get the FM23 ‘Community Football’ series (featuring Swindon Town) underway with our very first pre-season review.

First things first, a warm welcome to the series, and an extended welcome back to the Swindon Town players and staff who have now returned for pre-season (season 1). With my focus completely on a good start to the season ahead, it’s time for a full review of the first team squad, academy prospects, staffing, expectations, tactics, finances and recruitment.

Louis Redd (left) and Jonny Williams (right)

Louis Redd (left) and Jonny Williams (right)

First Team Squad Review

In terms of the first team squad, Louis Reed is probably the stand out player and has a lot of flexibility in midfield roles. I’m likely to deploy him as our primary deep lying playmaker (defend duty), as he’s fairly well equipped both creatively and defensively. After that, Jacob Wakeling (striker) and Ronan Darcy (midfielder) have good ability with further room for improvement. Angus MacDonald is a pretty solid centre back as well, with some experience of Championship football.

Jonny Williams is possibly the biggest name in the squad, and will feature plenty this season, but doesn’t offer enough to cement a long term place in the tactical structure / style of play I’ll be looking to implement (I want midfielders who can get up and down the pitch). The squad depth is ok, but we haven’t the funding to make wholesale changes this season.

Swindon Town F.C. tweet

Academy Prospects

Unfortunately, our youth facilities are below average and our youth recruitment is average, so it’ll take some time to build up the infrastructure for our youth players to really strive. Loan deals may help with their development in the interim, whilst helping to cut down what is a 100% already allocated wage bill.

Currently, we just have an under 18’s side below the first team, who ply their trade in the Under 18 Division 3 South-West. I can request an under 21 side from the board as well, which I’ll want to do longer term, once we have the infrastructure in place. Naturally, youth teams will play the same way as the first team, to help ease them in to first team action whenever the opportunity may arise.

In the spirit of giving youth players an opportunity, 16 year old midfielder, Jedidiah Afenyo, the highest potential player in our academy, has been moved up to train with the first team. I’m not expecting much from him in truth. He’ll likely make a few appearances from the subs bench, giving him an opportunity to make his mark.

Jedidiah Afenyo

Jedidiah Afenyo

The Backroom Staff

It’s very much a skeleton crew in place on day one, which needs addressing.

I have no need for a Technical Director, so at the risk of trimming the staff list further, his contract has been mutually terminated. That’ll save us around £25K over the course of the season. We’re light in all areas and can’t afford to make wholesale changes at this point. For the time being, I’ve hired an extra scout (Neil Murray) to help build-up our player knowledge in advance of the January and end of season windows – we have a lot of contracts up for renewal at the end of the season and may need to make significant changes to the squad. I’ve also hired a new fitness coach (Steve Haines, @SteveHaines8) and physio (Beth Sleith).


Our media prediction is 2nd, meaning automatic promotion, and the board expects us to reach the play-offs. Clearly we should be looking at the top end of the table and imposing ourselves on the rest of the league.


With so little spending power, much of the focus this season will be on tactics / style of play; building familiarity amongst the current group.

I want us to entertain the fans with lots of goals and attempts, through direct play, primarily focused down the wings. Our primary tactic will be loosely based on Swindon’s tactics during the League 1 play-off final under Glen Hoddle in 1993. It’s a work in progress:

FM23 Swindon Town tactics

A direct, attacking/counter attacking based tactic, currently in design

Finances and Recruitment

Our transfer kitty is a whopping 0 pounds and 0 pence, so in light of our finances, the transfer window has been a rather quiet one.

  • Overall balance: £370,120.00
  • Transfer budget: £0.00
  • Wage budget: £47,283.00

I’ve managed to free up some of the wage budget by sending players out on loan, plus gate receipts through pre-season fixtures. I’ve even managed to negotiate 3 or 4 new contracts that saw players from the first team lower their wages and bonuses a little. With no signing on fees, it’s a win win (lower wages with a few players tied down to longer deals).

Charlie Savage (son of Robbie) comes in on loan from Man United. I consider him to be a star player amongst the current crop of players. I’ve also brought in striker, James Gayle, on loan from Mansfield. I desperately wanted to get a target man in before the end of the window. The 20 year old 6’6″ tall striker gives us more options in the final third, aiding our direct approach play.

Charlie Savage on FM23

Charlie Savage

James Gayle on FM23

James Gayle

Our season begins with an away trip to Harrogate Town (predicted to finish 23rd), followed by a very tough home tie against fierce rivals and Championship outfit, Bristol City, in the Carabao Cup.

The opening day turned out to be a memorable one, with a headed brace from new man James Gale the major talking point of a 0-3 thrashing of Harrogate (Jedidiah Afenyo made his senior debut also, coming off the bench late in the game):



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