Walsall's promising midfielder Sam Mantom discusses upsetting the odds and his hopes for the future.
Last Updated: 19/12/13 4:49pm
The new season is upon us, with the 2013/14 campaign starting to take shape.
Here at Sky Sports we will look to take you to the very heart of the Football League over the coming months, with our Spotlight features intended to give you a greater insight into the clubs and players that keep us on the edge of our seats.
We hope to bring you the views and thoughts of a representative from each of the 72 teams over the course of the season, with those involved asked to give their take on the division they compete in, the club that pays their wages and those we should all be keeping an eye on.
Walsall's Sam Mantom is next into the hot-seat, with the Saddlers midfielder taking time out to discuss upsetting the odds and future hopes with Chris Burton.
You seem to be moving in the right direction again now don't you - four unbeaten in the league?
Yeah, we've had a tough run of games but I think we've come through it with flying colours. The gaffer getting nominated for Manager of the Month was a great thing for the club and it shows how well we've done this season, and especially this month with the last four results.
You were the first side to take points off Leyton Orient, that's a nice feather in the cap isn't it?
It's good to be the first team to take points off them. It was the same with Wolves, being the first team to beat them. It's always nice to get that notch, but we treat every game the same and we'll take the game on Saturday (against Bradford) exactly the same and approach it in the same manner and hopefully take points off them.
You can't afford to put too much emphasis on individual games can you, but the Wolves result was a huge one for the club and a fantastic achievement?
As players and the management, we felt a big responsibility to get a result there. We were hoping for a point at least, and it's great to come away with three points and the bragging rights for the fans and ourselves. It shows that any team in the league is beatable when we're at our best.
It must have been nice as well to prove the point after what happened in the JPT, having run them so close there?
It was a bit disappointing to lose in the JPT, especially on penalties. But we have gone there twice and got a draw and a win, so I think that shows what a good squad we have got here and we can push on for the rest of the season.
You have got four clean sheets already, you could just do with a few more at the other end couldn't you at the moment?
Yeah, we need to keep notching a few more goals. Hopefully from midfield we can get a few more. Westy (Craig Westcarr) has got six now, so we have got to try and back him up. I think we are creating opportunities, we have just got to finish them off and put teams to bed at the right time. But we're working in training to kill teams off and score more goals. Hopefully that will be shown in the next few games.
You've got a nice bit of stability at the club at the moment haven't you, the manager has been in there for a couple of years, and all of that helps doesn't it when you are trying to move forward?
As soon as I came in he has been superb. His man-management skills are unbelievable. Everyone respects him, but at the same time they know that if they are playing they have got to get a job done for him. It's a great place to come into work every day.
The club finished ninth last season, so I take it top six was very much the target this year?
The play-offs would be nice, we just want to try and beat last season. There are too many good teams in the league at the minute to say we are going to finish here, we are going to finish there, but as long as we take every game as it comes and perform for the whole season, I think we will be up there.
There are some big clubs in the division aren't there this year, and some big clubs struggling, so it's all going to be down to consistency isn't it?
It's going to be every game you have got to perform, and perform to your ability. Sheffield United are bottom of the league and I don't think anyone would have predicted that at this stage of the season. It just shows, even the teams that have come up are fighting for the play-off positions at the minute. So every game is going to be a scrap, a battle, and hopefully we can come out on top.
It's just about keeping yourselves in the mix isn't it and then, turn of the year, think now is the time to really kick on?
If we can keep ourselves in the top half of the table until Christmas, it gives us more to aim for. But we have got some massive games coming up against teams that we don't usually do too well against, so we have to take it one step at a time and hopefully give ourselves something to cheer about.
And for you on a personal level, are you happy with how things have gone so far?
Yeah, delighted. We had a great pre-season and I think our fitness levels are the best they have ever been under Jon Whitney and I think it has shown in some of the games that we have out-run teams and out-passed and out-moved them. Personally, I was happy to get off the mark with the goal against Rotherham and hopefully I can kick on and get a few more now and keep performing and keep myself in the team.
You are obviously enjoying it, do you feel you are now at the right club and that Walsall provide the right platform for you after your move last season?
It's a very good place to come in every day. There are some great people who work here behind the scenes and it just keeps ticking over. We have got great management in place and it's just awesome to come in here every day and work with the gaffer and Richard O'Kelly, and hopefully we can keep kicking on.
And is it somewhere you would like to be long-term, with a possible new contract at the end of the season?
Hopefully. I can't really look too forward into that because it's not my decision. As long as I perform to my capabilities, I'm hoping I can have a good future at Walsall and we can hopefully get promoted in a year's time.