February is a big month for the club. The quickfire nature of the month, will mean it is make or break for the side, and their hopes of reaching the play-off’s. There are a few different things that will be impacted by a good or bad month.
After the latest round of fixtures, Walsall sit in 12th, 7 points off the play-off’s with a game in hand. That game in hand is key, winning it, would put the Saddlers 4 points off the play-off’s, and 6 points off the top three. A good spell of form, in a month with no let-up, with games coming thick and fast, will define the season. Walsall can realistically rise up the table, with some winnable games. It won’t be easy, as their are some fixtures against tough sides, and sides in-form.
With the game against Southend likely to be played in February, that will mean Darrell Clarke will have 6 games to play in the remainder of the month. Two of these games come against relegation candidates Southend and Stevenage. Walsall will have to take 6 points here to stand any chance of keeping in touch with the play-off’s. It has been a frustration of the fans, that they seem to struggle in games against teams at the bottom, but now more than ever, those wins will be needed.
The other games see Walsall face, Mansfield, Cheltenham, Newport and Bradford. Mansfield have been resurgent in recent games, but they, like Walsall, have not played since January 23rd. The other matches, are against sides that are struggling for consistency, and if the Saddlers can pick up a few points against these, then it will see them rise up the table.
It is common knowledge that a large portion of the squad are out of contract over the summer. As it stands, only Liam Kinsella and Alfie Bates have signed new deals. It is rumoured that talks are ongoing with some players, and the club will hope to be working on securing players sooner rather than later, to keep the players tied down, and ease fans worries of a summer overhaul.
A good run of games in February, will propel Walsall up the table. Being a side that is in the hunt for the play-off’s, will see players wanting to stay, rather than that of a side that finishes mid-table again.
Leigh Pomlett also revealed that players that have brought in on loan, have been brought in with the future in mind. If they can hit the ground running, then the players know that their are deals waiting for them at the end of the season. It is an extended trial, and February will be a big month, where the side will no doubt be rotated with the sheer number of games.
Life after deadline day
Walsall fans are still yet to see what the formation, line-up and system will be, now that Adebayo and Jules have moved to pastures new. With Melbourne, Yaw and Reid all yet to play for the Saddlers, it is a bit of an guess as to how they will line-up against Mansfield on Tuesday night.
As mentioned previously, these new players have a reason to perform. They have a chance to impress, and earn a contract in WS1. This is positive recruitment by the club, and rather than signing players for the sake of it, Leigh Pomlett appears to have some foresight to the end of the season.
It also is a month where the players have to get on with the job at hand, after losing two of the key players. Key players leaving is not good for the squad, or morale of the team, so it is up to the players to show what they can do, to shake the disappointment of them leaving, and fill the void that is left.