Ahead of this afternoon's Sky Bet League Two fixture against Walsall, Phil Wallace addresses Stevenage supporters in the Digital Matchday Programme...
Good afternoon and welcome to the players and officials of Walsall.
It is great to be kicking off 2022 with a stronger squad. Six days in and five new players signed – that is good business. It has been costly, but we have taken an aggressive stance to bring in the players Paul wants, as well as a new first team coach in Jimmy Ball.
Firstly, on the goalkeeping front, Christy Pym is a top keeper that played 45 games in Peterborough’s automatic promotion to the Championship last season. He has worked with Paul and Mel for several years and we had no hesitation in meeting Posh’s payment requirements to secure him until the end of the season. Next in the door was Luke O’Neill, a solid, experienced League One right back that Paul highlighted. Michael Bostwick was flagged to us last week, Paul liked him and we acted swiftly to bring him back home on a loan until the end of the season with interest from several other clubs requiring us to act fast. Ed Upson is another that Paul brought to us, having worked with him before and we did the deal with Newport to bring him here. Laurie Walker is the fifth new recruit and another that Paul has worked with before. We quickly concluded a deal with MK Dons that now sees us with two very good goalkeepers. Going in the other direction is Elliot Osborne after we concluded a deal with Altrincham.
We know we are not scoring enough goals and we are working hard every day to add that extra bit of fizz to our squad. It is early days in the window – often these types of players do not become available until the end of the window so, as hard as it is, we have to be patient. Paul is delighted with the signings we have made and the short time we have concluded them in. But we are not finished yet...
Paul’s aim is to build a team that gets into the top ten of the 23 game ‘second half’ of the league programme that starts on Saturday. Once we achieve that, not only will we be safe but we can start in the summer to use that platform to create a promotion winning side for next season.
It is probably worth explaining two things with regard to incoming players. (1) Every Manager that has ever managed Stevenage decides on which players are signed. Never in my 21 years owning this Club has it been any other way. The job of myself and the Head of Recruitment is to do the deals and get the players the manager wants, whether that is players they already know or players agents advise are available. It is frantic, but it is fun. (2) We are not short of funds. We were in a very, very bad way financially in 2020 but we secured additional funding late in 2021 that means we can strengthen the budget and now, within reason, compete for any League Two player we want, whilst still making sure we maintain the over-riding, key element of keeping the Club solvent for fans of future generations to enjoy.
I want to finish by welcoming all our new players and management. I hope they and everyone else enjoyed the festive season and I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year.
Stay safe and enjoy the match.
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