Plymouth Argyle face Walsall tomorrow afternoon. Ahead of the game, we spoke to Simon from UpTheSaddlers.com to get his views on Walsall, Argyle and League Two in general. Up the Saddlers can also be found on Twitter.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Walsall?
My grandfather, a Fulham supporter, moved to the West Midlands from London in the early fifties and chose to follow Walsall ahead of our more illustrious local rivals. He took my Dad to his first game in 1960 and I’ve been dragged along since 1992.
Are there any new signings at Walsall people should be looking out for?
Our most important business of the summer came at boardroom level as Leigh Pomlett became the majority shareholder and Chairman of Walsall FC. A self-proclaimed ‘ambitious pragmatist’, his take-over has galvanised the club, boosted attendances and re-engaged the fanbase.
On the pitch, work-horse midfielder Stuart Sinclair has quickly become a fan favourite since he and his massive beard joined from Bristol Rovers. Playmaker James Hardy (from AFC Fylde) and striker Caolan Lavery (from Sheffield United) could also prove to be key signings.
Walsall and Argyle were of course relegated together from League One in the 2018/19 season. How likely do you think it is that the Saddlers will be able to bounce straight back this year?
It’s too early to tell. Since joining as Manager in early May, Darrell Clarke has undertaken a comprehensive and much needed re-build, bringing in no fewer than 15 players and establishing what appears to be a sound foundation to compete at this level.
On early viewing we may have one of the tighter defences in the division, but any promotion hopes hang on improving our threat in the opposition half.
Darrell Clarke has gone on record as saying that better times are to come for Walsall after two games without a goal. Do you think that attacking improvement will happen in time for Saturday?
Though our approach work and attacking play certainly needs refining, there is faith that DC will mastermind the changes in personnel/tactics needed to bring things together. If this requires a new signing then Saturday may be a game too soon, but here’s hoping.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
We’ve favoured a compact 5-3-2 so far, built around pressing the opposition and utilising wing backs. Imagine this will be our opening approach at Home Park, though Clarke has no reservation in changing formations and making bold substitutions in order to change a game.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
Not as such. Though goals are a concern, with a new manager and large turnover of players there was always likely to be some trial and error at this early stage of the season. Thankfully, Clarke has installed a work rate and team ethic that should see us through the troubleshooting phase.
What first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
David Friio. A game-changing signing on Championship Manager 4.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
Joe Edwards. One of the few players who left Walsall in the summer who would be welcomed back, his ability to break forward from midfield and launch/support attacks could be just what we need.
Do you have any predictions for League Two in general this year?
The media love-in with Salford will become more irritating by the day.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
A goal-less draw.