Robins Will Edden discusses all things Cheltenham Town in a fresh fans perspective blog here on ctfc.com
Whilst England's best test cricketers were getting swept aside by Mitchell Johnson and co in a five nil whitewash over Christmas, Cheltenham's best football team were getting swept aside by the might of Mansfield before a rain induced washout.
After 13 days with no games and lots of rain, the Robins failed to get back on track, suffering a narrow defeat to an in-form Burton side.
As we all know, things can change ridiculously quickly in football. No sooner had we recorded our first back to back wins of the season, we had followed them up with our first back to back defeats since August. December manager of the month Mark Yates was suddenly back under pressure with the excellent victories at Fleetwood and on Boxing Day at home to Exeter quickly forgotten. The Mansfield result in particular was especially disappointing and we just didn't show up that day. No disrespect to Mansfield but they looked a very average side and if we want to make a new year push for the play-offs then it goes without saying that we need to be winning those games.
Of course the New Year brings with it the January transfer window and as usual, the Twitter rumour mill begins to spin into overdrive. In previous years January was often a fairly civilised affair for Robins fans, however with the madness of last January still fresh in the mind, it's fair to say that most of us weren't entirely sure what to expect this time round. Last year saw the sudden departure of fans favourite Alan Bennett with Jeff Goulding also following the captain out of the club. If the exit of Bennett caught many off guard, then the departure of this season's captain Russ Penn was a little more predictable.
At the start of the season if you'd have told me that Penn wouldn't be here come February I'd have laughed at you – but as the season developed it became clear that Yatesy's favoured midfield trio was Richards, Noble and Taylor. I can see why he's been allowed to leave but at the same time, if we lose one of the aforementioned midfielders to injury, then there's nobody you'd want to step in more than Penn. He always gave it his all and having met him once or twice, he seemed a genuinely nice bloke. Like Bennett, he might feel that he had unfinished business here, but football moves on quickly and York have got themselves a top player.
In fact, the Minstermen have had a very good January indeed. Desperately unlucky not to be nominated for the Ballon D'Or after a terrific 2012/13 season with Cheltenham, the ever popular Keith Lowe made his loan move to York a permanent one. I'll always hold a soft spot for 'Keeeiiith' and it now breaks my heart a little every time we have a corner. I find myself looking expectantly, awaiting a surge forward from our arguably our biggest goal threat in recent years, only to remember that Keith has now moved on. York are stronger for our loss, but on a slightly serious note, it was probably a good move for both parties.
In terms of players coming in – we can almost certainly ignore ex Robin Shane Duff's optimistic plea in the Echo to the chairman to bring Ronaldo to the ABS, although that might not be the most ridiculous rumour I've read this month! The loan extensions for David Noble and Kemar Roofe were expected but are both decent business for us. Numerous players have been linked with us and former Leeds United forward Ryan Hall has been name checked by the gaffer himself. I'll be looking at that one with great interest and if it comes off, it could be one of the more interesting, controversial and exciting signings we've pulled off in recent years!
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