MARK Cooper accepted that his players looked “out on their feet” during the second half of their 2-1 home defeat to MK Dons on Saturday.
Town controlled much of the opening period at the County Ground and led thanks to Michael Smith’s 18th-minute header but they could not hold onto their lead and saw Antony Kay equalise for the Dons.
The Robins faded badly after half-time and struggled to keep hold of possession in meaningful areas, and the Dons punished their hosts thanks to George Baldock’s stunning late winner.
When asked by the Advertiser whether he too felt his players ran out of energy, Cooper said: “They looked out on their feet. We’ve been very wary of that. It’s their first full season in the senior game, many of them, and they looked very tired.
“We tried to shake it up and put some legs on with Jacob (Murphy) and then Dany (N’Guessan) later on but I agree, they looked very tired.
“I think it becomes more of a mental state - that they’ve played so many games and it’s their first season in senior football and it affects them mentally. That then has a knock-on effect and affects them physically.
“Maybe they’re a little bit edgy at home now, the supporters are a little bit edgy and anxious and I understand that. Maybe, maybe, but we’ve got to be big and brave and try to get on the ball.”
A number of Town fans have now become restless at a streak of six games without a win and five home matches without a victory, and there were even calls for Cooper to be sacked following Saturday’s performance.
Cooper said he understood the frustrations of the fans but again stressed that he would stick by the model implemented by the current ownership of the club as he strives to make Swindon sustainable in the long run.
“I appreciate that but it’s not going to change because that’s the way the owner wants to go – they want to play a style of football that encourages young players to play a certain way and to try to bring young players through. That’s the remit and that’s not going to change,” he said.
“I understand, I know 20 years ago Glenn Hoddle had a similar style of play and I think they appreciated that.”
Of the boos that greeted the final whistle at the weekend, Cooper said: “That’s football and it happens, I fully appreciate that. People pay their money and if they’re not happy they show that but that’s football, you have to deal with that.”