Date: 3rd January 2020 at 7:26pm
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January transfer markets have proven to be a real mixed bag for Walsall. Here is what I would like to see from the club in January.

Outgoings –

I would like to start by saying that I don’t mean any disrespect to the players I would like to see moved on. There are reasons why they were brought in, and it just hasn’t worked, and that’s football.

Rory Gaffney –

I mentioned this on my positional review, but he has just not fitted in here. He was announced after a home loss, and I get the impression this was predetermined whether we won, lost or drew. The fans weren’t thrilled, like I wasn’t. But his first couple of games were promising. Prior to Gaffney signing, we weren’t clicking going forward. In his first couple of games, I liked his hold up play, but I didn’t think he made us look more threatening. He then had a string of clear-cut chances that he missed. That is when the fans turned. We all were frustrated with the way the season was heading, and Gaffney was missing the chances that could have changed our fortunes. He then shushed the fans in the home game against Darlington. That was the final straw. SInce then, he has barely featured, and when he has, there hasn’t been a vast improvement. Strikers are judged on goals, and Gaffney has one. That pretty much sums it up.

Gary Liddle –

Our midfield is lacking a defensive minded, tough tackling midfielder, similar to Adam Chambers. I feel that was the idea behind signing Liddle. It just didn’t work out that way. Gary filled in where needed, playing in central midfield and at right-back (potentially spells in CB too). But he never really shone in any. One thing that we all were frustrated by, was the lack of effort (or perceived effort) by him. He also seemed to let games pass him by, when he was often the most experienced player at this level on the pitch. He has been loaned out, and we all agree it should be made permanent. I am expecting it early in the month, and I think the wages will be happily received back in the budget.

James Hardy –

This is a difficult one. I think Hardy is talented, but he is out of favour with the management. At the moment, we need a squad of players who are ready to start when required, and Hardy doesn’t seem to have that faith in him. I think he should be moved on and given the chance to play. I have seen him play in a few games, including against Forest Green, where I felt he played very well. Since then, I haven’t seen anything that makes me think he is good enough to make the jump, but I felt it would be nice to see him have a run of a few games. Ultimately, he hasn’t got a spot in the team, and it frees up wages for Clarke to use in January.

Those are the 3 that I feel will leave in this transfer window. But there are 2 more that I think COULD be on their way out too.

Zak Jules –

Zak has had a mixed spell with us so far. He had a good run of games when we were suffering with injuries. That is really the only time he has played. Cockerill-Mollett and Pring have played him out of a LB role, and the growing partnership of Sadler and Scarr, with Clarke there too, has limited his CB chances. He also has struggled to get on the bench, with Kory Roberts taking a regular slot there. Jules showed promise, some strong defending and his work rate in a more unfamiliar Left Back made him more popular with fans. However, after being hauled off against Darlington, he has struggled to get into the 18 man team. We all assume something has happened behind the scenes, and it is probably best for him to leave, and let him get game time elsewhere.

This one is a real curveball, and I can’t see it happening, but it’s Walsall, stranger things have happened.

Mitch Candlin –

Hear me out. We are not a prolific striking team. Yes we are improving and more players are chipping in, but Candlin is currently out on loan, and he was sent out when our strikers were not performing, rather than given a chance in a bid to try something different. DC has mentioned before that he likes players to have a lot of game time by the time they reach their early 20s. Mitch turns 20 this year, and there aren’t any signs that he will be getting gametime in the football league any time soon. To my knowledge, he has not featured in our team this season (maybe sat on the bench at times), and has struggled recently for gametime at Nuneaton too.

What I would like to see brought in –

I think there are 4 main players we need to see brought in.

Firstly, we need another winger. If Wes leaves, make that 2 wingers. We are sorely lacking in that area, and having Kinsella on the wing is not playing to his strengths and weakens the team in general. More pace out wide will help us with creating more and potentially better chances for our strikers. Wingers stretch a defence, and we could benefit from that width and potential extra space for the strikers.

I have said a few times that I think our central midfield is lacking a strong, tough tackling midfielder. We need that ball winner who can sit in front of the defence, and allow the others around him to push on up the pitch. Having that type of midfielder would also allow us a bit more tactical depth, as we could play a 4-3-3 with a holding midfielder, or a 4-5-1 with the same.

I also think we need a player to come in who is a CAM. That is the role we all assumed Hardy would play, but he has not featured there. This may be because the formation isn’t favoured, or because of Hardy himself. So I am unsure whether this will be a priority.

Finally, we need another Striker. Gordon and Lavery have started to really gel well together, but if either fall out of form, or one gets an injury, then I feel we lack a replacement, and a spot on the bench. Having another striker, perhaps a target man, also allows for a different style of attack. We lack a physical presence up top, and if we sign one, then we really do have options.

So that is what I would like to see happen in January.