A year ago United played Swindon Town at home and spent most of the match defending gamely, trying – successfully on this occasion – to stop the visitors breaking through.
In that game Swindon had 56% possession to United’s 44%, and had 12 shots on target to our 11.
In this season’s meeting Swindon had 61% possession to United’s 39% and 15 shots on target to our five.
Of course statistics don’t prove anything, but the pattern of the two matches was very similar.
What is certain is that Swindon are not as good a team as they were a year ago, but despite having lost Nathan Byrne, Ben Gladwin, Massimo Luongo, Sam Ricketts, Louis Thompson and others they still looked a better team than United.
United haven’t lost as many players – in fact there were a three signed last January who are still in the team – but we have lost the most important one.
In last season’s Swindon match Jamie Murphy scored a goal out of nothing and was able to sprint half the length of the pitch to get the second in the last minute to relieve the tension and pressure.
This season we have nobody of his class. We have nobody who can carry the ball like he can, beat men like he can.
He hasn’t been replaced by a similar type of player and until we get someone who can do those sorts of things we’ll be on the margins of the top six. Top two? No chance.
Some might argue that United have gone backwards in the last year.
Maybe so, maybe not, but we don’t appear to have made much forward progress in either results or style of football despite the change of manager.
At best it’s another season of standing still.