Best to Worst in two years. A tale of two squads.
Let's just take a look at what we had in 15/16.
Matthew Pennington (loan)
George Evans (loan)
Bryn Morris (loan)
Jordy Hiwula (loan)
That looks pretty much like an ideal squad for a League One campaign. There was the ability to switch fluidly between formations in-game and a really good mix of experience and youth.
Now, bear in mind we have our 'biggest budget ever in this division' let's look at what we've got for this upcoming season (excluding O'Connor and Preston)...
James Wilson (loan)
Can you see the difference? There's a glaring lack of depth and genuine quality back-up throughout the squad. In a division, which looks considerably stronger this season - Jon Whitney will either have to recruit extremley well in the next few weeks or get the absolute maximum out of that squad of players to even have a hope of staying up. Whilst teams around us have been busy recruiting proven League One performers, we're sitting here with a strikeforce of Simeon Jackon and Amadou Bakyoko (ha!).
Analysing the options a bit more in-depth, we have a strong(ish) looking centre-half pairing, but if Whitney wants to switch to 5-4-1 then we're again looking incredibly short in that position. Full-backs are less of a concern, but if Devlin's disciplinary issues continue Liam Kinsella will have a big part to play this season. Callum Cockerill-Mollett looks like a solid back-up on the left-hand side.
Moving onto midfield and I think this is an area that's been overlooked slightly with the glaring need for a new striker. We look incredibly weak in both central and wide areas, with no real inclination from Whitney that we'll be strengthening in these areas. In the (likely) case that Cuvelier picks up an injury, we'll be relying on Reece Flanagan for cover who hasn't feautred in a league fixture since April 2016. Out wide, we're going with Kieron Morris - who seems to be going backwards - and Joe Edwards, signed as a right back. Again, the back-up in wide positions is scarce with the unproven Maz Kouyhar and Tobias Hayles-Doherty as cover. Oh, and god help us if Oztumer gets injured...
The problems in forward areas are well documented and it's a huge season for Amadou Bakayoko who must become more than just a CheckaTrade Trophy bully. You probably know my opinion on Simeon Jackson, so we'll move on to Mitch Candlin who at 17 years old will be tasked with providing a different option from the bench.
It paints a sorry picture. In our last blog we looked at who was to blame, and there's no doubt that everyone in a position of power at WFC should take a long hard look at how this situation has been allowed to develop.
Put simply, we've somehow gone from having possibly our strongest ever squad on a smaller budget, to one of our weakest squads in history on the 'biggest budget ever'. Work that one out.
Well done Walsall Football Club...