A New Era [Part 2]
As the title suggests, this is Part 2 of our season preview. Today we continue our conversation with Kev Paddock, Vital Walsall (VW), Rob Harvey Manager of the Walsall STFC (RH STFC), Bescot Banter (BB), Saddlers Stats (SS) and My View from The Bescot (MVB).
If you haven’t already, I’d strongly recommend you go and read Part 1 that you can find here, where we discussed the news of the clubs release from the shackles of Mr. Bonser, thoughts on the new manager, and a review of the current playing squad.
Today, we discuss players that may be missed, the challenges we face ahead of us in League Two, and predictions for where we will finish this season. To hear the thoughts of these fans throughout the season, make sure to click the link above to connect with them on Twitter, and don’t forget to follow The Walsall FC Blog (Website Facebook Twitter)
A New Era… Part 2:
Last time we chatted about all the player movement this off-season, and also discussed the state of the current playing squad. Is there anyone who has left who you think we will miss this season?
VW: For all the criticism it would have to be Andy Cook….even though Clarke didn’t seem too bothered last night! Our lack of goals is a concern and I still think Cookie could have scored twenty goals in League 2 and under a manager who would have got the best out of him. Although like the rest he didn’t want to be here so bye bye.
RH SRFC: Luke Leahy anyone? No? Thought not. In all seriousness I thought Devlin would have had a great season this year, and Cook – yes he scored goals but the team had to be built around him to suit his style and it arguably didn’t really work that well. Overall, I’m happy with the released list, including Joe Edwards who didn’t look the same as prior to his injury, which may be due to him being rushed back perhaps?
BB: Any team in League Two would miss the likes of Nicky Devlin, Joe Edwards, and George Dobson, so it’s good to see the manager has added fresh legs in the positions they vacated.
Our seemingly annual post-season exodus saw many a talented player leave and, given our bargain-basement budget, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were going to struggle to land players that were on a par with some of those who departed for pastures new.
But by signing the likes of James Clarke, Stuart Sinclair, Danny Guthrie, and the vastly-experienced Gary Liddle, the manager has created a strong core group which should allow some of the younger less-experienced players to thrive.
SS: Dobson will be the biggest loss. He could’ve developed into that ball carrying, creative midfielder we’re currently lacking. I think we were right to cash in on him though. Sunderland is an excellent move for him and the money will (hopefully) come in useful elsewhere.
MVB: I won’t miss any of the players that have left. I was fond of a couple, Dev and, in particular, Dobbo who I believe could/will become a superb player, but none are irreplaceable.
League 2 – a place we haven’t been for a while, how do you see this campaign panning out: do you see us finally having a season where we pick up wins more consistently?
VW: I expect a slow start. We have a tough start. Clarke doesn’t start well but I’d like to think we will start to push up towards the top 7 around November and having a good promotion push early into the new year. People are playing down their predictions, supporting Walsall I don’t blame them but there is a feeling that something special is happening here. It’s the hope that kills us eh?
RH STFC: We will have a good season. It might take a few games to get up and running properly, but once we are adapted we will definitely finish top half, and I’ll be looking for us to hit the play-offs at least. I think we will see a lot more wins at home AND away.
BB: Unfortunately, last season gave us all a nasty dose of false hope as we started the campaign on such a high only to exit the division via the back door for the first time in over a decade. Early points will again prove crucial, and hopefully, we’ll be able to build upon them and become a disciplined defensive unit as we challenge for promotion.
SS: I think we’ll finish just outside the play offs so anywhere from 8th-12th. We’ll win more than we have recently because the division is so much weaker but I think we’ll be very hard to beat and a mixture of draws on the road and 1-0 home wins is most likely. A lack of firepower appears to be our biggest problem and is the reason why a lot of the pundits are writing us off as mid table fodder.
MVB: I’m quietly optimistic for the season. I would hope to see us challenging at the top but to see the club build something is more important. We need to learn how to walk again before we can run but I believe DC will get us there.
There seems to be mixed views from the fans about where we will finish come the end of the season: can I get a final league position prediction?
VW: 1st. I’m going all Darrell Clarke – there’s no point in getting out of bed in a morning accepting anything less!
RH STFC: I’ve had a season long accumulator where I’ve had us to finish top 7. I’m going to be optimistic and say 3rd.
BB: Given last season’s disastrous display we’d be pretty stupid to predict an immediate return to the third tier… But we can’t help but get a little swept up in ClarkeMania. The gaffer had us all swooning during Monday’s ‘Meet the Manager’ evening and, with a little bit of good fortune, could see us challenging towards the prize-winning places if all goes well.
SS: I said 8th-12th so let’s err on the side of caution. 12th for now but 8th with some welcome attacking additions.
MVB: I would hope to see us challenging at the top but to see the club build something is more important. We need to learn how to walk again before we can run but I believe DC will get us there.
Any Other Thoughts?
VW: Despite relegation this is an exciting new era for the club and it seems many are ready to come back home.
Let’s all get behind Leigh, Darrell and the lads and let’s all be part of something special!
We have our Walsall back!
RH STFC: I’m looking forward to Morecambe away on a cold Tuesday night. It’s what dreams are made of…
BB: Monday was a huge day in the history of Walsall Football Club. It’ll be interesting to see which direction the club takes under Leigh Pomlett. Of course, we’ve had many false dawn’s in the past and must try to keep a calm head as the future begins to take shape.
There is no doubt that, despite our recent relegation, these are exciting times to be a Saddler.
MVB: The appointment of DC and his obvious plans to try to build a better football club will succeed better with our support. We all have issues with the club but nit-picking over ever decision, whether it’s player recruitment, shirt stitching, stadium development, friendly results, etc can become very tedious and unhelpful at times. Maybe a ceasefire from being too harshly, unconstructively critical may be a good idea for a month or two.
This is a chance for a fresh start. Let’s give everyone that chance to make Walsall a great club. This could be the start of something fantastic…if we can knit the club and the freehold together, unite everything, then the future could be bright.
A huge thanks to Kev Paddock, Vital Walsall (VW), Rob Harvey Manager of the Walsall STFC (RH STFC), Bescot Banter (BB), Saddlers Stats, and My View from The Bescot (MVB) for chatting to us this week and making this bumper blog an absolutely fascinating read. If you don’t already, make sure to follow them on Twitter by clicking on their names above.
Safe travels to all Saddlers travelling to Northampton this weekend.. COYR
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