Opposing views: Walsall

Opposing views: Walsall

The chairman of the Walsall Supporters Trust talks to us about how our next opponents have been faring.

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Bio

Neil Ravenscroft is chairman of the Walsall Supporters Trust. He became a regular support in the 1965/66 season after watching Walsall defeat a top-flight Stoke City team. He tells us he has “followed the Saddlers ever since, come rain (a lot of that) and shine and am, now, Chairman of the Supporter’s Trust.”

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How are your team doing?

We’re just getting over a poor run of results, although not necessarily performances, which saw the team fail to win in ten. I think that means that we are exceeding our start of the season expectations, when not many saw us emulating last season’s finish, having lost top scorer Will Grigg to Brentford, Fabien Brandy to Sheffield United and creative spark Jamie Paterson to Forest in the summer. If we win all our remaining home games and draw the away games (all against teams below us in the table), we’ll finish on exactly the same number of points as last time out.

Who should we watch out for ?

Brandy is back on loan and his pace will frighten anyone, as will the trickery and pace of Chelsea loanee Milan Lalkovic…

Brandy is back on loan and his pace will frighten anyone, as will the trickery and pace of Chelsea loanee Milan Lalkovic. Ex Albion youngster Romaine Sawyers is developing into one of the best number 10’s in the Division. We will be missing top scorer Craig Westcarr after he was sent off last Saturday, though.

What are your thoughts on your manager?

The Ginger Mourinho? He’s turning into one of the best young managers about, creating a side which believes in the passing game and playing good football, all on a miniscule budget. His only weakness has been some tactical naivity at first, being comparitively young, but he’s getting better all of the time. He will be poached eventually.

What are your thoughts on your board and off-field club activities?

Walsall fans do have a very strange relationship with the Chairman, but it cannot be denied that he has made the club financially sound…

Walsall fans do have a very strange relationship with the Chairman, but it cannot be denied that he has made the club financially sound. You will find, because of the way we are run, that Walsall fans tend to have little sympathy with clubs that get into financial difficulties and, to be frank, the wishy-washy way the League and the FA deal with them.

Any views on Port Vale?

Don’t know much about any of them, other than the two ex Walsall loanees, Chris Shuker, who was very young when we had him during Paul Merson’s utterly disastrous reign and Florent Cuvalier, a lovely little player whose career seems to have gone backwards since he left us. He should have come here, rather than Sheffield United! Oh, and Pope scores some goals.

Any views & memories of players that have been involved with both teams?

Other than Darren Beckford, you mean? One of Walsall’s true greats, Tony Richards, ended up there and scored 1 every 2 for Vale, having got 185 in 334 for us and one of our under-rated forwards, Nicky Cross, also ended up at Vale Park.

A score prediction?

I’d go for a narrow 0–1 away win and revenge for that bad loss at Bescot earlier in the season…

Walsall’s problem will be scoring, without Craig Westcarr, and it’s difficult to predict what formation Smith will play. He might even be tempted to play a “false number 9”, Barcelona style, and play Lalkovic down the middle. We need to better wins at home and draws away to make the play-offs, though, so I’d go for a narrow 0–1 away win and revenge for that bad loss at Bescot earlier in the season.

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