Chris Marsh: A crazy Walsall week
It’s been the typical Walsall week.
They were in desperate need of players. They signed some players.
And then they sold Ama Bakayoko for a six-figure fee to ensure they remained in profit!
It’s incredible. But the most important thing is that they then went out and beat Plymouth last weekend.
And they did it in a way that has lifted the mood and given supporters genuine hope for the campaign ahead.
I don’t think it should be forgotten that three players had to be signed the day before the season got under way.
It’s not good enough. I think Dean Keates deserves better. And the fans deserve better because it was an anxious time.
Nevertheless, the business they did get done was very good.
Jack Fitzwater was fantastic last season and he picked up where he left off on Saturday.
Kane Wilson will provide competition for Nicky Devlin at right-back.
And Morgan Ferrier enjoyed an excellent debut – with his partnership with Andy Cook something to get really excited about it.
We can’t get carried away because it’s only been one game. But there have already been lots of positive signs.
For starters, I’m a big fan of playing two strikers up front.
You can tinker with the system if you like, maybe move to a diamond or play three at the back with wing-backs.
But for me, you need two up top. And I’ve always found when you sign players from non-league, they turn out to be either heroes or zeros.
They either step up and continue the form that earned them the move.
Or they struggle and are suddenly never seen again.
But the signs with Cook throughout pre-season and Ferrier last weekend are very good.
And you always know when you sign players from non-league, they have that hunger to succeed. When you play with strikers who you are confident will score, you go into a game one-step ahead.
It lifts the players and it lifts the fans because the cult heroes are always the strikers.
Walsall fans love a striker and they’ve had some great ones over the years.
Gorgeous Jorge Leitao, Rod ‘the god’ McDonald, Ned Kelly, Stuart Rimmer and Andy Rammell were all frontmen you could rely on.
I’m hoping Cook and Ferrier can follow in their footsteps. They certainly have the potential to.
And if Cook can get 20 goals and Ferrier can chip in with 10 and grab 10 assists, we will have a very good season.
Finally this week I just want to wish Bakayoko all the best after he completed his move to Coventry.
A few eye-brows have been raised at the deal, but this is now his chance to prove the doubters wrong.
I’ve not seen him every week, but when I did watch him – I always felt a bit sorry for him.
He always put a shift in but he was often leading the line on his own.
That’s a big ask for a player who is still only 22-years-old. He’s also been playing in a team that, over the past two seasons, has struggled.
I’d heard throughout the summer that there were quite a few teams looking at him.
And that’s because he’s nowhere near finished when it comes to his development.
There are coaches out there who believe they can get into him and make him a better player because all the tools are there.
But I think the move is a good one for him.
He was getting a lot of stick from the fans, which is fine – you’ve got to expect that in football.
But his confidence was low and I think he needs a fresh start.
Coventry also have quite a few options up front so I think he will be brought in and out of the side – he won’t have so much pressure on his shoulders.
The move will also give him a confidence boost.
At the end of the day, he is still a kid. He has still got loads to learn.
But I really hope his move to Coventry will help him flourish.