Inside track on Walsall signing Manny Monthe

With the signing of Manny Monthe Walsall have added their first new defender of the transfer window.

Manny Monthe.
Manny Monthe.

The 26-year-old joined on a free transfer this week after a hugely successful three-and-a-half years at Tranmere.

After Monthe made his move to the Banks’s Stadium we spoke to freelance journalist and Tranmere expert Tom Cavilla to get his take on the commanding centre-back.

How would you describe Monthe as a player?

On his day, he is unplayable.

He is very dominant in the air and someone who is not afraid to bring the ball out from the back. Monthe’s style of defending is fairly aggressive, though he is often successful at regaining possession from opponents due to his physical strength.

I would not describe him as an old-school defender, his way of playing is fairly unique in the sense that he is not afraid to take people on with the ball and is comfortable at playing long-range passes to teammates when required.

He began his career at a striker, so that may explain where that unorthodox approach comes from.

What are his biggest strengths and weaknesses?

His biggest strengths are his aerial ability and dominant presence. Monthe chipped in with his fair share of goals during his time at Prenton Park, most notably scoring home and away against Watford in the FA Cup third-round.

His footwork is something that also goes unnoticed at times. There is a clip of him playing against MK Dons in League One from the 2019/20 season, where he performs a drag back nutmeg when in possession of the ball.

In terms of weaknesses, the big thing with Monthe is his relaxed approach to football.

There have been a number of games whereby he has taken his time when in possession and then been intercepted by an opposition attacker – resulting in a goal being scored.

He has been guilty of switching off in games and was found out a few times in League One as a result of this. It’s something he must improve on, certainly.

At other times, he may try and look for a complicated pass and would be much better off keeping things simple.

Walsall desperately need defenders, what will he add to their back-line?

He will add experience, first of all. He played an instrumental role in Tranmere’s promotion from League Two in 2018/19, playing every single league game that season and making a total of 54 appearances in all competitions.

As mentioned earlier, he will pose a significant threat from set-piece situations due to his 6ft 3in height.

Some supporters have suggested he is League One level, is he capable of climbing the pyramid?

I was surprised to see him staying in League Two, I’ve got to be honest. He has been linked with League One clubs in the past and I expected a club from the third tier to take a chance on him on a free transfer. He certainly has the ability to perform at a higher level and looked far too good for League Two at times during the 2018/19 campaign.

If he was able to improve on the small errors that he is sometimes guilty of making, there’s no reason why he couldn’t become a League One defender.

What type of defensive partner will he need to succeed at Walsall?

An experienced one. At Tranmere, he thrived alongside Steve McNulty and was later paired alongside veteran defender Peter Clarke.

With Monthe, his concentration can sometimes dip during matches so it is important he has someone who is able to instruct him on his positioning and other forms of decision-making. Walsall may view this transfer as an opportunity for Monthe to develop into more of a leader, but I would say that he still needs an older player or someone of a similar age beside him.

What formations did he play at Tranmere and what suits him best?

Tranmere have developed somewhat of a reputation for changing formations on a regular basis in the last couple of years, experimenting with all kinds of systems.

Rovers have used him in three-back, four-back and five-back formations but seemed to get the best out of him by playing four at the back.

Tranmere used the 4-2-3-1 system for a large chunk of their League Two promotion-winning season, which is when Monthe played his best football.

He has filled in at left-back on occasions, but this is not his strongest position.

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