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After Paul Sturrock resigned to return to Plymouth in November 2007, with the club in deep financial trouble and in the midst of a stalling takeover, Swindon were unable to move for an immediate replacement. When the takeover deal was agreed, incoming chairman Andrew Fitton's first job was to appoint a new boss - and despite names such as former Town player Martin Ling strongly linked, former Scotland international Malpas was the unexpected choice. In what Fitton described as "the worst kept secret in football", it was widely known that Malpas was in line to take the job, more than a week before his actual appointment - the new era announced, as the new board and the new manager were unveiled on the same day in January 2008.
Malpas' first actions were to sign Anthony McNamee and Moses Ashikodi from Watford - both players that Sturrock had been keeping tabs on prior to his departure - and both played a part in a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest the following Saturday. Malpas' next game though was hardly inspirational - when the Town failed to beat ten-man Barnet in a FA Cup Third Round replay, they suffered the embarrassment of missing all four of their penalties in the shootout.
After a 1-0 win at Luton at the end of the month, the Town sat just five points off a play-off place, with two games in hand - and the signing of ex-loanee Simon Cox did much to heighten the fans' optimism for the rest of the season. Instead though, a disastrous run of just two wins and eight defeats in February and March saw the Town drop close to a relegation battle - and it was during this period that a section of the Town support began to question the appointment, forcing chairman Fitton to defend him in the Swindon Advertiser at the start of April. With his perceived dour personality, Malpas struggled to win over the fans, and eyebrows were raised at his introduction of a "4-3½-2½" formation, which was designed to utilise McNamee as a more attacking winger - but a run of four wins and a draw from the last six, including a 6-0 hammering of Port Vale, gave the Town a respectable mid-table finish.
Though Malpas was seemingly thwarted by most of his first choice transfer targets over the summer, there were some impressive pre-season performances against top opposition, including Champions League qualifiers Fenerbahçe and Steaua Bucharest, and FA Cup winners Portsmouth - prompting Pompey manager Harry Redknapp to tip the Town for promotion. The Town took this form into the start of the new season - playing some excellent football as they beat Tranmere 3-1 on the opening day, then scaring Championship favourites Q.P.R. in the Carling Cup, before being beaten 3-2.
Unfortunately though, that was as good as it got. After dominating for an hour at Cheltenham, the Town somehow slipped to a 2-0 defeat, and over the next few weeks, the confidence quickly drained from the Town squad - a series of defensive errors and goalkeeping howlers, coupled with the inability to defend set pieces, led to a run of five consecutive home defeats, and though the away form was better, the Town also gave away a three goal lead at Hartlepool. With the fans on the players' backs, captain Hasney Aljofree complained that the team were nervous of playing in front of the home crowd - Malpas hardly seemed to help the confidence levels by continually chopping and changing the starting eleven - particularly the goalkeeper.
By now, some fans had started to voice their disapproval, calling for Malpas' head - Malpas himself denied that this affected him, often commenting that the staff were "working their tails off" to "keep the monkey off their backs". After seven matches without a league win, when the Town finally did get a result, it was with a midfield pairing of Michael Pook and Lee Peacock - Peacock was told at the beginning of the season that he would be only considered as a striker, Pook that he didn't have a future at the club at all!
When another win against Oldham was followed by a respectable draw at league leaders Scunthorpe, it seemed as though the tide may have been turning for Malpas - until an embarrassing defeat at non-league Histon in the FA Cup was followed by defeat at Brighton in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy - ending the Town's interest in all of the cup competitions. Perhaps surprisingly, chairman Fitton quickly moved to discuss the situation - later revealing that some of Malpas' objectives were linked to success in the cups - and Malpas left by mutual consent soon after - Fitton describing the decision as the most difficult he'd ever had to make in football, and describing Malpas' departure as his own personal failure.
MANAGERIAL RECORD AT SWINDON:
date of birth