Saddlers social: Walsall fans have their say
Walsall fans have their say on the latest happenings at the Banks's Stadium.
The bore draw at home to Blackpool may not have been the most enjoyable game on the eye. Both the fans and the players dipped well below the high standards they have set themselves this campaign, however, if this does turn out to be an incredible season, I really believe this encounter could well prove to be a pivotal turning point.
I along with many other Saddlers fans have been delighted to see Dean Keates roll back the years and revert to the formation we love more than any other, the good old 4-4-2!
Pace out wide, a powerful forward line, a leader in the centre of the park and a solid back four is what many of us supporters have wished for over the last few years and it’s great to have it back!
And as an outsider looking in, there seems no doubt that this formation is Plan A and long may it continue.
However, I think the way Blackpool set-up at the weekend to counteract this, with a robust back three and an extra man in midfield was a real indication that we will need to have both the flexibility and ability to have a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D when faced with such a challenge moving forward.
This is what really encourages me however, because it’s clear the ‘Beechdale Pep’ knows this too and is evident in the way he’s strengthened the squad with the addition of the ‘Two Conor’s’ to give us the additional options we crave for.
I sense Ronan could be a masterstroke signing and will potentially give us that added energy and creativity in the centre of the park to enable us to go to a three-man midfield when necessary, and keep the opposition guessing.
We’re now in September and remain unbeaten in open play and I think we can well and truly be proud to say ‘We have our Walsall back’!
Another week passes and we remain undefeated in the league - yes it wasn’t a great performance against Blackpool last Saturday but it’s encouraging that despite playing below our standards we still managed to grind out a draw.
It's good to see new boy Connor Ronan earning plaudits for his performance in the controversial Checkatrade Trophy earlier this week. I will never support the competition nor pay for a ticket in its current format but is good to see even the players waiting in the shadows of the first team have the winning mentality installed into them! Burton are struggling but that is another impressive win.
Ronan will be needed in games like the Blackpool one, when plan A isn’t working we can bring him on to hopefully open teams up!
Added note - It was great to see the players and management pay for their trust membership last week.
Nice to have that feeling that everyone is once again pulling in the same direction.
The Blackpool game was much needed in my opinion for a number of reasons.
The main one being that it brought us all back down to earth, without landing with too much of a bump.
It's been very easy to get carried away due to the start we've made, but hopefully, this will help us to lower expectations slightly and take a bit of pressure off the players so early on.
Another reason was that it highlighted an area of the squad that needed improving. Given the way that our midfield players have performed, it's been easy to overlook the fact that we haven't got a genuine creative central midfielder.
We were crying out for someone in the mould of Romaine Sawyers or Erhun Oztumer to give us something a bit different.
What's impressive is Dean Keates has realised that and picked up a very highly thought of youngster in Connor Ronan which now enables us to play a number of different formations in order to change games that aren't going our way.
It's reasons like that that Keates fully deserved his Manager of the Month nomination. And now it's gone to Steve Evans, we don't have to worry about the curse!
Last season we would have lost against Blackpool.
It was a game too far, the players seemed lethargic and we had no threat going forward. But it’s easy to forget that some players have stepped up two divisions and although they’ve been excellent so far, they’re still learning about the difference in quality at this level.
On the flip side, one player who looked like he could keep running all day was George Dobson. He’s stepped up a gear since last season and we won’t be keeping him for long with assured performances like this.
And to aid the squad further, it’s great to see we are still recruiting and hopefully the two Connors from down the road can add the extra options that this squad needs and deserves.