2014/2015 Season Preview

I am going to be one of those people who annoy me so much. I am going to write about something I have little knowledge on – the current state of the Walsall team.
Owing to a move away from home, the last game I attended was the Johnstone’s Paint game away at Wolves.
This means that I missed all of our end of season slump but I did listen to commentary on all of those games and view the highlights.
What is clear is that we struggled to score goals all season and then, crazily, let our top scorer, Westcarr, leave. Pre-season has also seen us find it difficult to score.
Westcarr’s replacement, Cook, was a winger when he came here on loan before. I saw him a few times and was very impressed, but didn’t think of him as a forward. He will miss the start of the season anyway, as will Mantom, last season’s best player. Starting the season without these two means it will be difficult.
James O’Connor was a strange buy. It was thought he would replace Butler at centre- half but, although he can play there, he has spent most of his career at right-back. Why buy another right-back who can also play centre-half, we have two of those already (Purkiss and James Chambers)?
What worries me greatly is how many games Holden is playing in pre-season. He was over-the-hill two years ago, how can he be the answer now?
Replacing Butler’s leadership skills will be difficult. In short, we can’t. Adam Chambers has been installed as captain, but he was lacking a lot of energy last season, content just to do the dull work whilst Mantom got on with things.
Benning as a winger is something I am looking forward to seeing. I think he can do a good job there. I am also looking forward to the youngsters coming through and staking their claim for a first team place. Morris and Flanagan are two players who impressed me in last pre- season’s 6-0 romp against Alfreton, who we, rather worringly, lost to this year.
O’Donnell can be relied upon in goal. We already know about the class of Andy Taylor, Downing and Sawyers. So, its not all doom and gloom.
But, I am afraid, it will be a struggle next season. We will find it difficult to gain any momentum with Cook and Mantom out. Butler’s leadership and Westcarr’s goals will be missed. We should survive but I feel it will be curtains for Smith come the end of the season.
We will finish 18th and Smith will get his P45 at the end of the season. I hope I’m wrong but I seldom am.