Bescot Banter: Dissecting a busy Walsall Deadline Day

Despite a waterlogged pitch putting paid to last weekend's League Two clash between the Saddlers and Mansfield Town, last week was still a busy one at Fortress Bescot.

Elijah Adebayo
Elijah Adebayo

Undoubtedly the headline news arrived during the usually quiet and often disappointing Transfer Deadline Day as we saw a trio of players, including an in-form defender and our current top-scorer, depart for pastures new.

Looking back, the early afternoon confirmation that the club and well-travelled midfielder Danny Guthrie had mutually agreed to part ways was somehow both a surprise and no real shock at the same time.

Although clearly ranking amongst our better midfielders on his day, Danny had suffered from a series of injuries during his time at the club and, as a result, was becoming more of an Instagram influencer than an active member of the matchday squad.

With finances continuing to suffer from the various issues which have befallen the club in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic it makes good financial sense for club and player to part ways, especially if his latest injury setback is to keep him out for as long as manager Darrell Clarke recently suggested.

Sadly the second of our Deadline Day departures dealt a far more direct blow to our hopes of pushing for promotion as left-sided defender Zak Jules completed a move to mid-table League One side Milton Keynes Dons, for a fee reported to be in the region of £100,000.

Since joining from Macclesfield Town Zak had battled his way to being one of the first names on the team sheet and will be difficult to replace, especially with the already mentioned financial constraints fresh in our minds.

The third and final departure was confirmed shortly after the window slammed shut and saw top-scorer Elijah Adebayo complete a surprise switch to Luton Town, the Hatters stealing a march on Championship rivals Huddersfield Town to add Eli to their ranks.

Whilst the fee remains undisclosed many members of the media have hinted it was 'substantial' and as such difficult for the club to turn down, something which is further enhanced by the fact that the former Fulham man was nearing the end of his contract and could have left the club for a nominal fee in just a few months' time.

Clearly, a club in our position simply has to do all it can to balance the books and, as the lack of fans at matches along with the cancellation of all upcoming events at Banks's Stadium continues to add strain to an already stretched budget, it's hard to argue with much of the reasoning given by chairman Leigh Pomlett in his midweek video update.

The only real and in our opinion avoidable problem with Deadline Day, and the transfer window as a whole, is the decision to boost squad numbers by adding a small group of as-yet unproven players in the form of 'free loans'.

Whilst this may seem like yet another thinly veiled attempt by us to promote the youth team - something we'll make no apologies for doing - there is a clear argument for the manager to make better use of Miguel Llera's Under 18s, especially as many of the current crop of loanees are directly out of other teams' academies, or at least the outer fringes of their squads.

We're long-term admirers of our club's youth and development system and firmly believe that we should always look to give our own players as much first-team football as possible, especially after watching an ever-increasing list of other club's players prove their worth in WS1 before returning home.

Clearly, the manager and chairman have far more to consider than whether player 'A' or player 'B' is being given enough of an opportunity to prosper, and we'll never know exactly what leads either to make the decisions they do, but our youngsters would surely be better served by being thrown in at the deep end rather than sitting on the sidelines as other club's prospects are given the chance to find their feet.

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