Walsall meeting the opposition.
Tranmere are now back in good form, as they’ve hit back from a heavy defeat to win two and draw one of their last three league games. Their January transfer window signings have come to fruition as Kane Hemmings showcased his goal scoring ability in midweek, putting two into the back of Swindon’s net. Lewis Warrington is another player to keep an eye on, the midfielder from Everton’s Reserves but in a phenomenal performance against The Robins.
Up next for the Whites are Walsall, a side currently sitting in 21st and fighting to get away from the relegation zone on the back of a 1-0 loss against Keith Hill’s Scunthorpe United.
Ahead of this weekend’s encounter, I spoke to Walsall supporter Simon, who runs YouTube channel Walsall Fan TV. He spoke of The Saddlers’ poor start to the campaign and how he believes the upcoming fixture will pan out following the departure of manager Matt Taylor.
How long have you been following Walsall and what were your initial reasons for supporting the club?
I’ve followed Walsall since 1981, my Dad was from Walsall and took me to one game. I had to make my own way after that first game despite living seven miles away and being much closer to Wolverhampton Wanderers. My buddies tried to get me to support the Wolves but I like the underdog fight and that’s what Walsall have always had.
You produce many great videos relating to the club. How would you describe the content you produce and where can people find your work?
I run Walsall Fan TV (YouTube channel) and produce regular content: match previews, instant match reactions, matchday vlogs, livestream watchalongs and Walsall updates. The subscriber numbers have climbed from under 300 to over 800 in the last 12 months which is pleasing despite the poor performance of the team.
What were your expectations going into the season and how do they compare to those that you have now as we enter the second half of the campaign?
We were expecting to be challenging top 7 or even perhaps top 3, but now we’ll do well to stay up.
Matthew Taylor is Walsall’s manager after being appointed in 2021. How would you describe his time at the club so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm?
Matt Taylor was brought in because of his coaching ability with young players at Tottenham, but the young Walsall players have gone back in their development this season and the first team have struggled to get any kind of consistency. The recent consistency of losing 7 on the bounce has led to his sacking earlier this week after we lost to bottom of the league Scunthorpe (with 10 men).
Who would you say are your stand out players?
Best fit Walsall players are Liam Kinsella (CDM) and Brendan Kiernan (LW)
How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe this game will pose different questions than the previous encounter (A 1-0 victory at Prenton Park on the opening day of the season) did? If so, why?
On current form it is an easy win for Tranmere (0-2), but Football is a strange beast and with the management change Walsall may spring a surprise. (1-0), but I’d take a point now.
What starting eleven do you think will be selected by Taylor and how would you describe the playing style he’s implemented on his side?
Matt Taylor switched from his immoveable 4231 to a 352 for his last two games without success. Neil McDonald may have other ideas. Continuing with 352 is likely but with players missing I’d go for a traditional 442. Rushworth, White, Meyanese, Monthe, Devine, Osadebe, Kinsella, Perry, Kiernan, with Miller and debutant Willock upfront, but who knows what’s in McDonald’s head.
Thinking of previous encounters between the two clubs, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?
Historically Walsall have got the better of Tranmere. The best recent memory was Walsall’s 3-1 win with Wes McDonald scoring a beauty for Walsall’s decisive second.
As the January transfer window has now finished, how would you describe the business The Saddlers were able to complete in terms of incomings and outgoings?
The transfer business last January nearly sent us into the National league and this one is as bad. Being short of striking options Walsall needed strikers but instead lost one loanee striker, Kieran Phillips. Otis Khan who scored two goals in his last appearance also left the club. The target man we desperately needed did not arrive. The only attacking player coming in was the promising but volatile Devante Rodney. Despite failing his medical, we signed him anyway on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
The Bescot Stadium is the location of this weekend’s fixture as 2nd placed Tranmere travel to 21st placed Walsall.