Sturrock: It's only half-time
Wed, 06 Feb 2013 12:05:00
Swindon's new owners have rubbished reports that manager Paolo Di Canio will be sacked and replaced by Mike Newell and Brian Stein.
Wednesday's Daily Mirror ran a story suggesting the Robins were ready to end 44-year-old Di Canio's 17-month spell as boss because of the sizable wages he earns at the County ground.
But Jed McCrory, who leads the consortium that agreed a deal to buy the club a week ago, released a statement to the Swindon Advertiser that read: "I feel the need to break the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) due to the breaking story (in the Mirror).
"I have had no contact or conversation, be it email, telephone or any other means, with Mike Newell. We are disappointed that people are putting stories together due to the uncertainty over the situation and would like to state we are looking forward to working with Paolo Di Canio and the team going forward.
"We are working tirelessly to bring the purchase of the club to an end to allow all to return to normality. As a football fan I am aware of the need to end this uncertainty as soon as possible."
The takeover, which is due to be approved by the Football League in the next 48 hours, meant the club avoiding going into administration after amassing debts believed to be in the region of ?13m.
These have now mostly been written off, although it did not prevent the sale of star winger Matt Ritchie to Bournemouth on the eve of the transfer deadline.
On Tuesday, former Celtic, West Ham and Sheffield Wednesday player Di Canio refused to answer any questions about his future following his side's 1-0 win over Colchester, three days after he stated that his position had become untenable.
The club currently sit third in League One, two points behind the automatic promotion places.
The Pirates midfielder struck five minutes into stoppage-time with a 35-yard thunderbolt to earn a 1-1 draw and stretch their unbeaten run to four matches.
"What a fantastic goal to win the game," said Ward. "It's a goal that would have graced any level and if they had had two goalkeepers they wouldn't have kept it out. If it had been scored in the Premier League you would have seen it week in, week out.
"We had tried to be positive and tried to take the game to a team that I'm pretty sure are going to get automatic promotion.
"They are very strong and recruited well in January so to come here and get a point in the way we did means I'm going to have to keep taking the heart tablets.
"We have a sign in the dressing room saying winners don't give in and we are trying to be winners - we haven't been in the past but we are trying to be now and we certainly don't give in.
"This was a big game here and it was a cracking game of football in terms of effort and attitude towards it. In my view a draw's a decent result. It was different to (beating) Barnet and the team has responded well - we had to switch around and do things a little differently."
The 21-year-old talent made his first appearance for the Glasgow giants since December in Sunday's William Scottish Cup fifth-round win over Raith Rovers.
The winger struck the second goal in the Hoops' 3-0 success at Stark's Park, and impressed his boss so much with his pace, intent and fitness following a hamstring problem that he will now be cast back into the Celtic line-up for this weekend's trip to Inverness in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Lennon now hopes that game will be enough to ready the player for the team's Champions League last-16 meeting with Juventus, after he was sent home from Scotland's Aberdeen training camp ahead of the national team's friendly with Estonia when concerns were raised about the effect of playing on a heavy Pittodrie pitch.
He told the Celtic View: "James is a brilliant player. You can see what he brings to us and he's desperate to play. We just need to drip-feed him in now gently and we have to be careful there's no reaction.
"He's a wonderful talent and one of the best Scottish players we've produced for a long, long time. I think the world of him as a boy but as a footballer there's so much he can offer.
"He's been training great and desperate to get back in but the physios have been holding him back. We've had to listen to them but it was great to get him some game time.
"We have the game up in Inverness next and we expect him to play and have him ready for Juventus.
"It was hugely important to get him some game time on Sunday. He makes us better, he drives everyone on, he excites people and got his goal.
"There are not many people who would score that goal - his turn of pace and quality of the finish was fantastic. To have him back gives us an extra dimension."
The vital goal came after 58 minutes when Sean Clohessy sent over a cross and Ryan Leonard reacted quickly to guide the ball home, via a deflection off O's defender Mathieu Baudry.
"I'm delighted that we've got a lead but I hope it doesn't cause complacency from our team because the second leg is going to be a difficult game," said Sturrock ahead of the second leg at Roots Hall in two weeks' time.
"At the end of the day, they've got some exciting players that can hurt you and they are capable of scoring goals away from home.
"It was a difficult game against an in-form side and it was always going to be hard. We decided that we would play it nice and tight and hopefully get to half-time without conceding which we did. We had a couple of opportunities around their box as well.
"Smithy (Paul Smith) has shown what a quality goalkeeper he is, he pulled off a couple of decent saves and I thought our back four were immense. We started the second half excellently and for the first half-hour, we put ourselves in the right areas."
The Shrimpers boss did, however, receive some distressing news concerning midfielder Michael Timlin, who was stretchered off 10 minutes from time.
"Michael has got a suspected broken leg, it looks bad," Sturrock added.
"It's really disappointing for the lad because he's been a stalwart for us. He wears his heart on his sleeve and I'm absolutely gutted for him."