Summer, for many football fans, is a time of excitement and hope as news of new signings for their club comes in. At Swindon Town this time round there has been very little to shout about in terms of transfer activity, which has done its part in dampening expectations for the season ahead even further amongst fans.
One of the few signings that has been confirmed so far is that of former Liverpool youngster Lawrence Vigouroux. The 22-year-old goalkeeper spent last season on loan from the Anfield club, and was one of the bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming season for the Robins.
Vigouroux originally signed on at Swindon last season in order to replace the departed Wes Foderingham, who had been the club’s undisputed number one for a number of years prior to his departure. Vigouroux had big shoes to fill and in his very early displays for the club he seemed more than capable of filling the gap in the team left by Foderingham. Things were looking good, but ill-discipline dogged his early months at the County Ground, culminating in the club terminating his loan after he paid a £50 fine in one penny coins.
The disciplinary issues, however, were soon straightened out and Vigouroux rejoined the Robins. He would go on to play a key role in the rest of the season, before sitting out the last few games to injury.
Having been unclear as to where his future lay for much of the summer, Vigouroux singing a permanent contract at Swindon now makes him the club’s number one and, going into a season of uncertainty for the club, his performances could be key in helping the Robins stave off relegation and instead aim towards the top half of the table.
However, given the lack of firepower in the squad at time of writing (although the optimist in me still thinks we will get someone through the door before the season starts), Swindon will have to rely on not conceding too many goals in order to win games. This is particularly worrying as last season the team did not look sure at the back, and conceded a massive 71 times in their 46 league games.
Despite it being impossible for him to fix the defensive problems at the club on his own, his signing a permanent deal may be just what the team needs to settle at the back. With a keeper that is on the books of the club permanently, the defenders can have more confidence that they are playing as a consistent unit – and one that is fully committed and passionate about the team’s efforts.
Vigouroux’s contract might also indicate that the player has overcome his disciplinary issues that hampered his early Swindon career, as the club are now willing (and able) to tie him down for longer, meaning that they trust him to behave professionally and in the best interests of everyone involved at the Count Ground.
He also has another year of professional football under his belt, as do his defence, which will be invaluable when the going gets tough this season. Last year was the 22-year-old’s first full professional campaign, and it will have helped his development massively to be playing competitively week-in, week-out. Therefore, Swindon fans will hope to see fewer gaps at the back, and less mistakes that lead to goals (although in fairness these defensive issues are also partly down to the system that the club’s management insists the team plays).
Given the tough time Swindon seem to be having convincing new goal-scorers to join the club, extra pressure has been shifted onto the defence, who will have to do extra work in order to tighten things up and concede less. As things stand, the club seem set for a tough 2016-17 season. Vigouroux is a decent permanent addition to the club, and in a key area, but it remains to be seen how much of an impact he can have if the rest of the club’s on-pitch issues are resolved.
There is time remaining for the Chairman and Manager to get things right and sign some players who can raise the mood at Swindon. If they can bring in at least one or two strikers, and shore up the defence with a bit of experience, then the squad will look more promising, and then Vigouroux’s ability to impress will increase. If poor-quality replacements for players like Nicky Ajose are signed instead, no matter how well the 22-year-old plays next season, Swindon will struggle.