SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper wants his players to use the final nine games of their League One season to “give the supporters some hope for next year”.
Town recorded their first clean sheet in seven attempts during the goalless draw with Bristol City on Saturday, standing up to the test of playing with 10 men for 35 minutes following Alex Pritchard’s needless red card.
In doing so, they produced the kind of gutsy and spirited performance fans have been craving during a recent barren spell and now Cooper has challenged his squad to take that frame of mind into the campaign’s final straight.
“We just want to finish the season strongly to give the supporters some hope for next year, to make sure we sell some season tickets and start looking to build for the future,” he told the Advertiser.
“As a manager you get stick, I understand that, but to be where we are from where we came from at the start of the season I think it maybe is (unfair) but I completely understand.
“The supporters (at Bristol City) were magnificent and if they can be like that every week then the players will be even better. We weren’t at our fluent best because it wasn’t that kind of game but in patches in the first half we dominated the football and showed them we cared, we dug in and managed to get a point.”
Talk of an unlikely relegation scrap has followed Town about in recent weeks, as they remain winless since the 3-2 victory at Port Vale on February 8, and Cooper was not surprised by such concerns.
“When you’re on a run like that you know that there’s always one team that can fall into it so it was important we got something,” he said. “We still need another win and then we can start looking to next year.
“When you lose a couple of games and you’re ninth in the league it’s panic, isn’t it? People do get frustrated and I completely understand that but it’s not going to happen overnight for us.”