Walsall vs Carlisle preview: Play well and lose?

Exile @ 1:56 am Saturday 20 November 2010

With regular Neil being missing more than Byfield, it’s another Metfanwy preview this weekend. Thanks, Bangor!

Tuesday nights performance against non-league outfit Fleetwood Town left a lot to be desired, with many Walsall supporters still unhappy with the way the team is playing. An unconvincing 2-0 win was played out in front of a small crowd, with two moments of class from Reuben Reid the difference.

So we head into tomorrow’s Coca Cola League One game against a confident Carlisle United side, who are currently on a 5 game unbeaten run in all competitions. Last weekend saw the Cumbrians run out 3-2 winners over early season promotion favourites Southampton: no mean feat.

Carlisle come into the game with a close to full strength outfit. Highly rated striker Gary Madine went off in the victory over Southampton with a slight knock, but makes the squad for Saturday’s game. The only real selection issue for Carlisle will be whether James Chester will continue in the left back role.

The impressive part about Carlisle’s recent form is that the extremely experienced midfield duo of Graham Kavanagh (our old friend) and Paul Thriwell have been missing due to injury. Quality left-back Sean McDaid (former Doncaster Rovers) is out, as well as striker Richard Offiong. Players to look out for include deadly striker Francois Zoko and creative midfielder Matty Robson, who will cause problems.

What about us? Darren Byfield has been set back in his comeback from injury, and will be out for a further month. Clayton MacDonald, Jon Macken and Martin Devaney have been struggling with injuries, and may make the game. One player absent from the midweek win over Fleetwood was Ryan McGivern due to first team duty for North Ireland and he will still be unavailable due to suspension. William Grigg also returns from International duty, but he never plays. Andy Butler should make his Bescot bow, after missing the FA cup tie due to his ineligibility.

Carlisle should therefore line up: Collin, Simek, Murphy, Michalik, Chester, Taiwo, Berrett, Marshall, Zoko, Madine, Grella. It’s a bit trickier to predict how we might play, it is very much dependent who is available after injury. The return of Martin Devaney may push us back into a 442 formation, after the midweek 433.

Hutching’s bemusing quote of the week comes from the E and S. According to Oliver Lancashire: ‘The manager has been saying that we had been playing well and losing’. We haven’t been playing well..and we have been losing. Also, Oliver may have been tired after training for he also came out with this intriguing quote: ‘Carlisle are a similar team to us, with a similar budget I expect, and it’s good to see a team like that doing well. Similar budget? Really?

The money spent on Kevan Hurst and the signing of very good league one players such as Sean McDaid, Paul Thirlwell, Graham Kavanagh and Franky Simek show the Carlisle board have invested in their side with good results. Carlisle are currently 2 points from the automatic promotion places and the their owners should be congratulated. Let’s hope our owner and board of directors can show similar investment and deliver decent football to a public that has been humiliated by performances this season.

Prediction? We have the lowest scoring record in the division – just 15 goals – against the 3rd best defence in the league. The stats suggest we should lose again, but I am going for a draw. My reasons? It surely can’t get any worse.

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Shuffleboard: Walsall Gamble on Stefan, Leigh

Exile @ 9:30 pm Sunday 11 July 2010

Stefan Gamble, previously financial director, has ben named as Roy Whalley’s replacement as Walsall’s Chief Executive going forward. Roy himself will take a backseat role and concentrate on his duties as commercial director, generating off-field income. As Roy’s angling for a quiet departure, this little reshuffle should come as no surprise to Saddlers regulars. Stefan’s a beanie by trade and his financial acumen will hopefully suit the club in maximising it’s position based on income available from all sources.

One welcome surprise (to most) was the appointment of life-long Saddler Leigh Pomlett to the board. Leigh’s been a fan for 40 years, and his work experience in transport, freight and logistics should have given him a few well-connected contacts throughout Europe. UTS understands he’s been a F2G-based supporter so he’s familiar with some of the more (ahem) rough and tumble fans and their views on the running of the club.

These appointments mark a sea change in Walsall’s management. Last time a director was appointed the announcement was kept under wraps but this time the club’s been upfront, and even better, the director is a Walsall fan with no ties to Leeds-based development consortiums.

One thing that the three have in common is an appreciation of how important fans are to a football club:

Roy Whalley on attendance:
“How far this club goes depends on how many supporters come,”

Stefan Gamble on attendance:
“It’s top of the list. We have to engage our supporter base and that is one of the things we will address from the outset. If we can get them back it doesn’t guarantee us a better season, but it certainly helps.

Leigh Pomlett:
“I’ve been a Walsall supporter for over 40 years.”

Perhaps one of the first things these three could agree on in the brave new world of Walsall FC would be that silencing fans who are critical of some aspects of the club might not be in everyone’s best interests. While one has had his ban rescinded, it would be nice of others were to be treated the same way, having been summarily excluded for the same “crime”. Neil can attend matches next season, now it would be nice if it were confirmed that Darren and Wayne were accorded the same treatment. Fresh season, fresh start, please, Walsall. Let’s have some perspective.

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