GIVEN the emotions Swindon Town currently arouse in their fanbase – anger, bewilderment, despair and mirth to name just four – was it a mischievous supporter who parked a van outside the County Ground this week, emblazoned with the slogan ‘Please Give Blood’?
The desire of the current playing squad to metaphorically, or even literally, spill claret for an increasingly desperate cause has often been questioned, not least since a season already written off as ‘forgettable’ took a lurch towards the calamitous with five straight defeats.
In fairness to Luke Williams’ men, it is less their effort that many question than their suitability, profile and experience for a 46-game campaign in English football’s third tier.
Which brings us to the thorny issues of recruitment and managerial structure, which reared their heads again this week with director of football Tim Sherwood retreating to – some might say remaining in – the County Ground shadows and chairman Lee Power’s pronouncements about the current situation at the club.
Although it’s debatable whether Power’s intervention actually clarified the mysterious – and sometimes frankly bizarre – role of Sherwood since his arrival, the club supremo did at least acknowledge responsibility for the summer’s serious recruitment deficiencies that have left Town staring into the League Two abyss.
Less comforting was his assertion on talkSPORT that “everything will stay as it is’’ – an ominous comment for fans already possessing major misgivings over a transfer policy that has appeared to place potential future value over current needs, a playing style worthy in ambition but limited in effectiveness, and a management structure mired in confusion.
The chairman was also hardly unequivocal over Williams’ ability to handle team affairs (“Maybe. Time will tell’’), while the claim there were “no more excuses’’ and that his head coach had now “got the tools’’ to keep Town in League One would have raised more than the odd eyebrow.
Possibly excepting Rohan Ince, whether the addition of a striker with just nine complete games and six goals this season, a midfielder with just three league starts, three loanees with under 20 senior league starts between them and two permanent signings without even one apiece, adequately restocks Williams’ arsenal with the required weapons for the great escape is contentious.
While ‘taking the hit’ for previous recruitment folly, Power appeared to simultaneously turn the heat up on his beleaguered head coach.
With just 15 wins from 54 league games in charge, Williams’ suitability for the task is understandably under scrutiny.
Yet as Power himself acknowledged, not all the blame lies at his door, the Sherwood affair being another unwelcome distraction.
Why did the ex-Aston Villa and Spurs chief outline his role as that of a manager in all but name upon his November arrival, only for Williams to remain on the frontline?
And if Sherwood was recently in demand from Championship clubs, as claimed by Power on Tuesday, but remains in situ in Wiltshire, why has he now stepped back at precisely the moment someone of his reputed calibre could maybe aid Town in their hour of need?
As it is, Williams must now soldier on and attempt to navigate them out of an increasingly perilous predicament.
For Power and Sherwood, those bigger questions will need addressing again come the summer.
“Everything will stay as it is’’ is unlikely to cut it.