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Best to Worst in two years. A tale of two squads.

Best to Worst in two years. A tale of two squads.
At the start of the 2015/16 season, Manager Dean Smith had quite possibly assembled the most talented squad of players in Walsall Football Club's recent history.

Let's just take a look at what we had in 15/16.

Goalkeepers:

Neil Etheridge
Craig MacGillivray


Defenders:

Jason Demetriou
James O'Connor
Paul Downing
Andy Taylor
Rico Henry
Liam Kinsella
Matt Preston
Matthew Pennington (loan)

Midfielders:

Kieron Morris
Anthony Forde
Milan Lalkovic
Adam Chambers
Reece Flanagan
Sam Mantom
Romaine Sawyers
James Baxendale
George Evans (loan)
Bryn Morris (loan)

Forwards:

Tom Bradshaw
Jordan Cook
Jordy Hiwula (loan)
Amadou Bakayoko

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)...

Goalkeepers:

Mark Gillespie
Liam Roberts

Defenders:

Nicky Devlin
Luke Leahy
James Wilson (loan)
Jon Guthrie
Kory Roberts
Liam Kinsella

Midfielders:

Kieron Morris
Joe Edwards
Flo Cuvelier
Adam Chambers
Erhun Oztumer
Reece Flanagan
Maz Kouyhar

Forwards:

Simeon Jackson
Amadou Bakayoko
Mitch Candlin

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...




Writer:TP1992
Date:Wednesday August 2 2017
Time: 9:53AM

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Quite shocking to read this well formulated article,it's a disgrace.It highlights what can be assembled on little money and what can be ruined when funds are available and not used wisely....
Le Hane
08/08/2017 19:48:00
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