So far, Walsall have had a positive summer regarding contract renewals. For the first time in a while, players are opting to stay with the Saddlers, rather than move onto pastures new. However we have one left to sign up, Danny Guthrie, and we are all wondering whether he will, and what are the positives and negatives to him staying or leaving.
Let’s look at the positives and negatives to him staying. The biggest positive is his influence and skill on the pitch. Walsall’s points haul is much better with Guthrie in the team than without him. He has the ability to change games, and his delivery from set-pieces are second to none. He has been a key player in our midfield, especially in a three where he can sit back and dictate play, and the way he does that, is something that comes from his years of experience, and playing at much higher levels.
He also is a fantastic role model for the younger players. For the likes of Bates and Willis, who play a similar way in midfield, working with someone like Guthrie will improve them, and help them grow into better players. I also feel that he adds a wealth of experience. With around 300 professional appearances, he is one of the players with the most matches under his belt that we have.
Now we look at the negatives. He will no doubt be one of our bigger earners at the club, and in these times, for a club like ours, in these current times, bigger earners aren’t going to be high on the clubs shopping lists. I could understand paying more money for a player, if they would be in the first XI week in week out. However we still are unsure of Guthrie’s fitness. He started 17 league games, and was brought on a further 8 times. The stats don’t make for pleasant reading when you see that in his 17 starts, he lasted the full match only 4 times.
We will have a reduced squad going forward, with the way the footballing world is. And if that is the case, then we will need our players to be playing more matches. However, there is one solid reason that Guthrie’s lack of playing 90 minutes doesn’t concern me. Next season, we will be able to make 5 substitutions per game, which means the likes of Guthrie will be able to play, and come off in matches without it significantly playing a part with our remaining subs.
I do think that our team will look better with Guthrie in it next season, and I hope he stays. I think another season being acclimatised to League Two will make him better. But what do you think? Will you really miss him if he leaves? Is it a case of ‘Go all out to sign him’? Let me know in the comments.